Helenium autumnale

Sneezeweed, autumn Helen flower


Helenium autumnale, commonly known as Sneezeweed, is a captivating North American native perennial that brings vibrant colours to landscapes. With a height ranging from 90 to 180 centimetres, its upright stems showcase daisy-like flowers characterised by a prominent central cone surrounded by petals in shades of red, orange, and yellow. Blooming from late summer through autumn, Sneezeweed adds a pop of colour when other flowers wane. Its lance-shaped green foliage serves as an appealing backdrop to the striking blooms. Thriving in moist soils, this plant is often found in wet meadows and along waterways. Adaptable and attractive to pollinators, Sneezeweed is a valuable addition for gardens seeking both late-season beauty and biodiversity.


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Origin: United States and Canada
Genus: Helenium
Species / Cultivar: autumnale
Common Name: Sneezeweed, autumn Helen flower

Plant Biography

Helenium autumnale, commonly known as Sneezeweed, holds a history rooted in both cultural and medicinal significance. Despite its name, it’s not related to hay fever or causing sneezing. Native to North America, indigenous peoples utilised various parts of the plant for medicinal purposes, including treating respiratory issues and skin conditions.

As European settlers arrived, Sneezeweed gained recognition for its ornamental value. The common name likely originated from the plant’s former use in making snuff, although it’s worth noting that the plant isn’t suitable for this purpose. Over time, horticulturists developed different cultivars, enhancing the plant’s aesthetic qualities.

Today, Sneezeweed continues to be celebrated for its late-season blooms and its ability to attract pollinators. Its history spans Native American practices, European settlement, and modern horticulture, making it a dynamic plant with a rich cultural and botanical legacy.

Helenium autumnale
Soil: Moist but Well Drained
Soil that allows water to drain at a moderate rate, without the water pooling.
Situation: Full Sun
Wants direct, unfiltered sunlight most of the day, such as a south facing position.
Eventual Height: 0.9-1.8m
The plant's ultimate height in typical growing conditions.
Eventual Spread: 0.1-0.5m
The plant's ultimate spread in typical growing conditions.
Hardiness: Fully Hardy
Will survive unprotected outdoors in most areas of the UK, even in the harshest winters.
Habit: Deciduous
Sheds all its foliage annually, so for a period of the year it will be without foliage.
Lifecycle: Perennial
This plant is persistant and does not die off after flowering. It will return each season indefinitely, if provided with suitable growing conditions.
Care & Size Guidance

Care & Size Guidance

Caring for Helenium autumnale, commonly known as Sneezeweed, involves vital steps to ensure its health and vibrant display. Opt for a sunny planting spot tp encourage robust growth and vivid blooms. Choose well-draining soil, slightly moist conditions are ideal.

Consistent watering maintains soil moisture without waterlogging. Mulch offers benefits: moisture retention, temperature regulation, weed control. Deadhead flowers regularly for continuous blooming, preventing excessive self-seeding. Prune after the first bloom, promoting bushier growth and potential second flowering.

Sneezeweed doesn’t demand extensive fertilization, but balanced, slow-release fertilizer in spring boosts health. Monitor pests like aphids, leafhoppers; address issues promptly. Look for disease signs, treat as needed. To sustain vigour, divide clumps every few years. Follow these steps for a thriving Sneezeweed display!


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