Common Name: sneezeweed
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Native Range: North America
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 3.00 to 5.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: August to October
Bloom Description: Yellow rays and dull yellow center disks
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium to wet
Suggested Use: Rain Garden
Tolerate: Deer, Clay Soil, Wet Soil
Easily grown in average, medium to wet soils in full sun. Prefers rich, moist soils. Intolerant of dry soils. Avoid overfertilization which may cause plants to grow too tall. Although not required, plants may be cut back in early June (at least six weeks before normal flowering) to reduce plant height and to encourage branching, thus leading to a more floriferous bloom, healthier foliage and less need for support. Remove spent flowers to encourage additional bloom. Cut back plants by 1/2 after flowering. Divide clumps as needed (every 3-4 years) to maintain vigor.
Helenium autumnale, commonly called sneezeweed, is an erect, clump-forming, Missouri native perennial which occurs in moist soils along streams, ponds or ditches and in spring-fed meadows, prairie and wet open ground throughout most of the State (Steyermark). Typically grows 3-5' tall on rigid, distinctively winged stems which branch near the top. Features clusters of daisy-like flowers (2" diameter) with distinctive wedge-shaped, bright yellow rays (three-lobed at the tips) and prominent, dome-like, dull yellow center disks. Flowers appear over a lengthy late summer to autumn (sometimes to first frost) bloom as indicated by species name. Alternate, lance-shaped, dark green leaves (to 6" long).
Genus name comes from the Greek name helenion which is the name of a Greek plant which honors Helen of Troy. It is unclear as to the relevance of Helen of Troy to the within genus of plants which are exclusively native to North and South America.
Specific epithet refers to the plant's autumn flowering.
Powdered disk flowers and leaves of this species have in the past been dried and used as snuff, thus giving rise to the common name of sneezeweed.
No serious insect or disease problems. Foliage is susceptible to powdery mildew, leaf spot and rust. This species generally requires some staking or other support and will benefit from pinching or July-cutback as detailed above.
Borders. Also effective in prairies, meadows, cottage gardens, wild gardens, naturalized areas or in moist soils along bodies of water.