Helenium 'Helbro' MARDI GRAS

Common Name: sneezeweed 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asteraceae
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: August to October
Bloom Description: Yellow and red rays with brown centers
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Rain Garden
Flower: Showy, Good Cut
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Deer, Wet Soil


Grow in average, medium to wet, well-drained soil in full sun. Intolerant of dry soils. Avoid overfertilization which may cause plants to grow too tall. Although not required, plants may be cut back in early July (at least 6 weeks before normal flowering) to reduce plant height and encourage branching, thus leading to a more floriferous bloom, healthier foliage and less need for support. Remove spent flowers to encourage additional bloom. Divide clumps every three years to maintain vigor.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Helenium is a genus of about 40 species of annuals and hebaceous perennials from North and Central America. They are found mostly in damp meadows and along the edges of woods. They have a long season of bloom.

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.

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.

MARDI GRAS is an erect, clump-forming, sneezeweed with bushy basal growth. It grows 30-40” tall on rigid, stems clad with alternate, obovate, green leaves (to 4” long). It was discovered as a chance seedling of two unidentified Helenium cultivars growing in a controlled environment in Worcester, United Kingdom, in 1996. Each daisy-like flower (to 2” diameter) has yellow and red bicolored ray florets surrounding a prominent, dome-like, deep brown center disk. Yellow rays are irregularly splashed with various shades of red. Flowers bloom for about 2 months from early to late summer. U.S. Plant Patent PP15,124 was issued August 31, 2004.


Susceptible to powdery mildew, leaf spot and rust. Most heleniums benefit from staking or other support. Deer tend to avoid this plant.


Borders. Also effective in prairies, meadows, cottage gardens, wild gardens or in moist soils along bodies of water. Impressive when massed.