How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Sneezeweed

Sneezeweed, also called Helenium or Helen’s Flower, is a pleasant, adaptable, and engaging perennial plant. This warm-weather herbaceous plant blooms from late summer season by way of the autumn, making them an necessary meals supply for pollinators when fewer crops are in bloom. Pollinators are drawn to helenium-like magnets.

This plant is native to all elements of america besides Alaska, which implies it may possibly develop in virtually any backyard! Right here is all the pieces it’s essential to learn about caring for this dazzling flower.

Sneezeweed Plant Overview

Native Space

North America


Common to wealthy, moist

Bloom Colours

Heat Colours from Yellow to Crimson


Powdery Mildew, Leaf Spot, Rust

Historical past

Close-up of blooming Sneezeweed plants in the garden, against a blurred green background. The plant forms thin vertical stems with green lanceolate leaves. The flowers are medium-sized, similar to daisies, with prominent brown centers and bright yellow ray-shaped petals.
Sneezeweed, or Helenium, is a pretty perennial identified for its historic use as snuff.

The title Helenium comes from the story of the notorious Helen of Troy. Legend has it that the place the tears of Helen fell on the bottom, these flowers sprang up of their place. As Helen was greatest identified for her attractive magnificence, it’s not shocking that the flowers named for her are additionally fairly fairly.

The nickname “sneezeweed” comes from the flowers’ historic use as a type of snuff. When dried and floor right into a powder, Helenium could be inhaled to induce sneezing. Sneezing was as soon as considered a solution to rid the physique of evil spirits and alleviate chilly signs, though we now know that isn’t true. As we speak, the plant is a well-liked decorative.


Close-up of blooming Sneezeweed plants in a garden among green foliage. The leaves are narrow, lanceolate, with smooth edges. The flowers are medium-sized, daisy-shaped, with prominent brown-yellow central discs surrounded by elongated, wavy-edged petals. Petals are bright red and orange with yellow tips.
This genus belongs to the Aster household and contains 40 flowering species.

Sneezeweed is an herbaceous perennial within the Aster or Daisy (Asteraceae) household. There are about 40 species of closely flowering crops within the Helenium genus. The most typical species is Helenium autumnale, named for its fall blooming behavior.

The seeds, leaves, and flowers are poisonous to people and animals. The uncomfortable side effects of ingesting the plant embody gastric and intestinal points, which could be deadly in some circumstances. It additionally incorporates sesquiterpene lactones, which trigger pores and skin irritation, significantly to mucous membranes.


Close-up of blooming Sneezeweed, also known as Helenium, in the garden. The plant has vertical thin green stems covered with green lanceolate leaves. The flowers are medium in size, composed of prominent, bulging centers surrounded by bright yellow ray-shaped petals with slightly wavy edges.
Sneezeweed is famend for its ample and gorgeous flowers, particularly throughout fall.

Helenium is greatest identified for the abundance of flowers it produces. The plant just isn’t unattractive in any other case, however its flower exhibits are one thing to behold. It’s particularly floriferous for a fall-blooming perennial.

The flowers are literally flower heads made up of small disk flowers within the heart, flanked by an outer ring of ray flowers. Pollinators of every kind love these flowers for his or her abundance of nectar. 

The flower heads are available in colours on the nice and cozy finish of the spectrum. They will seem in numerous shades of purple, orange, yellow, and copper, with many types containing two or extra of those colours. These flowers are just like these produced by Gaillardia or Indian blanket however sometimes have darkish brown facilities.


Top view of a Sneezeweed flower surrounded by dry seedheads, against a blurred green background. Helenium has a beautiful daisy-like flower with bright yellow ray-shaped petals and a prominent brown central disc. Seed heads are rounded, dry, brown.
They are often propagated by way of seed, cuttings, or division.

Sneezeweeds could be propagated in a number of methods. The most typical is to propagate from seed. Nevertheless, it can be propagated by cuttings and division. The crops must be divided each few years, whether or not to propagate or in any other case. Scaling down crops will assist enhance air circulation, stopping illnesses and pest infestation. 

When clumps are divided to keep up the well being of the dad or mum plant, propagation is kind of easy. New shoots and clumps could be dug up, lower from the central root system, and planted elsewhere. 

The soil temperature must be moderately heat to develop from seed. 70°F is right for germination, which takes place in 10-21 days. The seeds could be began in seed trays indoors in cooler climates. Flippantly press the seeds into potting soil.

Don’t cowl, as these seeds want mild to germinate. Hold the seeds constantly moist by misting the newly-planted seeds and laying a bit of cling movie excessive of the soil to maintain the moisture from evaporating. Fastidiously take away the movie if you see the primary indicators of germination.


Close-up of a young Sneezeweed seedling with a large, dense root ball on the soil in a sunny garden. The plant has upright short stems covered with elongated, narrow, bright green lanceolate leaves. The root ball consists of twisted thin white roots and potting mix.
Plant Helenium in spring to permit ample time for institution earlier than the late summer season blooming season

The most effective time to plant is in spring, so the crops have time to ascertain themselves earlier than the late summer season blooming season. Sneezeweeds shouldn’t have to be buried deeply. If planting naked root crops, dig a gap that’s as deep and twice the width of the foundation. Place the foundation within the place you like and backfill evenly. The soil must be simply even with the highest of the roots.

Find out how to Develop

Sneezeweed is a straightforward plant to develop and deal with. With such a large native vary, Helenium grows as a wildflower all through america and far of Canada. These crops can stand up to harsh climate situations.

They’re cold-hardy as far north as zone 3. They’re additionally warmth tolerant all the best way south to zone 9. Sneezeweed requires little or no upkeep as soon as established.


Close-up of a young Sneezeweed seedling in a large yellow container, outdoors. The plant has lush green foliage. The leaves are oblong, lanceolate, with smooth edges and texture.
As crops develop bigger every year, container-grown crops would require frequent repotting.

Sneezeweed comes again bigger every year, so planting it in a small container will most actually lead to frequent repotting. If you wish to develop your Helenium in a container, we advocate both a big pot or a raised mattress that can include its unfold whereas giving your crops loads of room to develop. A raised mattress of sneezeweed is usually a attractive sight when in bloom.


Close-up of flowering Sneezeweed plants in sunlight. The plant produces upright thin stems, with lanceolate green leaves and colorful flowers. The flowers are daisy-like, with protruding rounded central discs, with bright red-orange, slightly ruffled petals.
For optimum blooms, sneezeweed thrives in full solar with at the very least 6 hours of solar per day, ideally within the morning.

Full solar is greatest for sneezeweed to get essentially the most blooms out of your plant. If planted within the shade, Helenium will get fairly leggy because it grows towards the sunshine. Attempt for six hours of solar, or extra, per day. The morning solar is the perfect, as it’s cooler than the afternoon solar.

In case your crops get any shade, afternoon shade is greatest. The extra solar these crops can get within the early a part of the day, the extra lovely and floriferous your sneezeweed shall be.

This is a wonderful factor to recollect when selecting a spot to your crops. In hotter climates, the idea of full solar could be totally different than in cooler climates.

Should you’re rising Helenium in a hotter local weather, guarantee your crops have some shade from the afternoon solar. Crops must be positioned in a location that will get as a lot solar as potential in cooler climates. 


Top view of flowering Sneezeweed plants covered with raindrops. The plant bears small, daisy-like flowers with bright, ray-shaped, orange-colored petals and prominent dark brown central discs. The leaves are dark green, lanceolate, smooth.
They like constantly moist soil and want watering throughout extended droughts.

Sneezeweeds have average watering wants. Whereas they’re thought of considerably drought-tolerant as soon as established, these crops choose constantly moist soil. They are going to endure if not watered throughout extended drought. 

These crops will thrive greatest when given at the very least an inch of water per week. Water your Helenium each time the soil is dry for the perfect outcomes. Making use of a layer of mulch across the backside of the plant will assist to retain some moisture within the soil.


Close-up of a gardener's hand with a shovel digging soil in a sunny garden. The shovel is small, metal. The soil is loose, dry, dark brown.
Sneezeweed crops thrive in barely acidic soil with a pH vary of 5.5-7.0, ideally wealthy in clay.

Helenium crops choose their soil to be considerably acidic. A pH of 5.5-7.0 is right for these crops. 

A reasonably agency soil is preferable. Clay-heavy soil with natural matter combined into it’s very best for these crops, however they’ll survive in most soil sorts. Think about including worm castings to your native clay soil.

The exception is sandy soil. Due to their comparatively excessive want for moisture, sandy soil just isn’t a very good choice for these crops. Planting Helenium in soil that drains nicely however that also retains moisture is greatest. These crops do nicely in moist soil however don’t take pleasure in boggy situations.

Local weather and Temperature

Close up of flowering Sneezeweed plants in sunlight, in a garden. The plant forms vertical thin stems with bright green lanceolate leaves. The flowers are medium sized and bloom profusely. The flowers are daisy-like in shape with bright orange petals arranged around protruding central burgundy-yellow discs.
This genus has a broad native vary with good chilly tolerance. It will probably additionally tolerate sizzling, humid climates.

Sneezeweed grows in a really massive native vary. From central Canada to Florida and Texas, Helenium is extensively adaptable. These crops are warm-weather bloomers, however their roots are hardy as far north as Zone 3, so that they have wonderful chilly tolerance of their dormant season. 

As an herbaceous perennial, the above-ground plant elements will die again in chilly winters. Don’t fear; they need to regenerate in spring!

Humidity and warmth aren’t huge points. These crops can tolerate sizzling, humid summers so long as they’re given sufficient moisture. In areas the place the humidity stage is especially excessive constantly, be careful for fungal illness, and don’t enable your sneezeweed to grow to be overly crowded. Humid climates are inclined to make crops extra inclined to fungal illness.


Close-up of a profusely flowering Sneezeweed in a sunny garden. Numerous small daisy-like flowers with bright orange-red, orange and yellow petals arranged around prominent rounded central discs. The stems are thin, covered with lanceolate dark green leaves.
They don’t want common fertilizing in wealthy soil, as an excessive amount of nitrogen reduces flowering.

Heleniums aren’t heavy-feeding crops. They received’t want common fertilizing so long as they’re planted in pretty wealthy soil. An excessive amount of fertilizer or nitrogen-rich soil will imply extra foliar development and fewer flowers, so keep away from fertilizing all through their rising season.

Particularly keep away from fertilizers which might be excessive in nitrogen. A lightweight fertilizing within the spring with blood meal or bone meal shall be all they should look and carry out their greatest.

Upkeep and Care

Sneezeweed Care and Maintenance in Garden
Heleniums are low upkeep, benefiting from pinching again new development for sturdier crops and later blooming.

Other than that single yearly fertilizing, Heleniums are very low upkeep. In late spring, as soon as the crops have had a while to develop, pinching again the brand new development will lead to a later bloom however will produce sturdier crops with extra branches, thus extra flowers. 

After your sneezeweed has bloomed, reduce all flower stems all the way down to the foliage. Deadheading all through the flowering season will even encourage extra flowers and assist the plant direct vitality towards new development. 

Each few years (3-5), you could skinny the patch. These perennials will crowd one another after some time, making them extra inclined to illness. Crops will even lose their vigor if allowed to multiply too freely. Separating crops from time to time will preserve them sturdy.

In style Varieties

There are greater than 40 species of Helenium and plenty of hybrid variations from a number of international locations. The plant’s wonderful chilly and warmth tolerance makes it fairly common as a decorative pollinator plant. Listed here are a few of my favourite varieties with essentially the most distinctive and exquisite blooms.

‘El Dorado’

Close-up of Helenium autumnale 'El Dorado' flowering plants in the garden. Helenium autumnale 'El Dorado' is a perennial plant with striking features. It has strong stems and lanceolate green leaves. The flowers are large, with golden yellow petals and a dark brown center.
This compact selection is understood for its lengthy blooming season of golden flowers from summer season to fall.
botanical title

Helenium autumnale ‘El Dorado’
bloom colours

Yellow and Crimson

as much as 3’
hardiness zones


‘El Dorado’ lives as much as its title with lots of golden flowers throughout a protracted blooming season from summer season by way of fall. This compact selection reaches solely about 3’ tall, however this small dimension has advantages. ‘El Dorado’ has sturdy stems that present resiliency to environmental elements like wind and rain.

The flowers seem from July by way of to October and have deep brown facilities speckled with tiny yellow stamens across the edge. The bigger petals are brilliant yellow and sometimes have small purple splashes.

‘Sizzling Lava’

Close-up of Helenium 'Hot Lava' against a blurred green background. Helenium 'Hot Lava' is a captivating perennial plant known for its fiery appearance. He has a compact stature. The leaves are spear-shaped and dark green in color. The flowers show intense shades of red. The petals are reflexed, surrounded by prominent dark purple centers with yellowish markings.
One other compact selection, ‘Sizzling Lava,’ has showy flowers that begin principally yellow with purple streaking and mature to deep crimson purple.
botanical title

Helenium ‘Sizzling Lava’
bloom colours


hardiness zones


This hybrid was created within the Netherlands to develop compactly and produce particularly flashy flowers. These fairly blooms seem as yellow with some purple streaking. Because the flowers mature, their shade intensifies to a deep crimson purple earlier than fading to a softer shade of orange. 

The colour-changing nature of those flowers makes this selection further common. They present up en masse from early summer season by way of to the autumn months. Additionally they make wonderful lower flowers with sturdy stems, upward-facing blooms, and a protracted vase life.

‘Mardi Gras’

Top view, close-up of Helenium ‘Helbro’ Mardi Gras in bloom. The plant forms upright stems with dark green spear-shaped leaves. The flowers show vibrant combinations of red, orange and yellow. The petals are decorated with an intricate pattern of patches and stripes of contrasting colors.
A vigorous selection, ‘Mardi Gras’ grows as much as 4′ tall with wealthy foliage and ample flowers when pinched in late spring.
botanical title

Helenium ‘Helbro’ Mardi Gras
bloom colours

Yellow, Orange, and Crimson

3’ – 4’
hardiness zones


You will have guessed by the title that this plant is an actual backyard get together. ‘Mardi Gras’ is a barely taller selection, reaching 4’ tall when mature. Pinching this selection in late spring will result in wealthy, dense foliage and loads of flowers. The stems are good and robust on this selection, so the flowers are nice for chopping.

The flowers seem throughout midsummer in a fantastic, colourful present. The middle of the blooms is reddish brown. The bottom shade of the blooms is brilliant yellow splashed with good purple and orange, making for a really colourful and attention-grabbing plant. 

‘Potter’s Wheel’

Close-up of blooming Helenium 'Potter's Wheel' against a blurred green background. The flowers are medium-sized, daisy-like, with prominent chocolate brown cones surrounded by ray-shaped bright red petals with contrasting yellow margins.
This Dutch hybrid has closely blooming stems, showcasing chocolate brown and yellow facilities.
botanical title

Helenium ‘Potter’s Wheel’
bloom colours

Crimson and Yellow

3’ – 4’
hardiness zones


‘Potter’s Wheel’ is a Dutch hybrid Helenium selection. This cultivar flowers so closely in late summer season that it usually wants help to carry up its stems. The flowers bloom in clusters on the finish of branches, making this one of the vital floriferous varieties.

The blooms have a chocolate brown heart which regularly turns yellow because the flowers age. The bigger circle of petals is a deep, velvety purple with a skinny yellow halo across the very outer fringe of the flower. The flowers are set off properly in opposition to engaging inexperienced foliage.

‘Ring of Hearth’

Close-up of blooming Helenium 'Ring of Fire' in the garden. It forms a tall shrub with vertical thin stems covered with green lanceolate leaves. The flowers of 'Ring of Fire' are the true showstoppers, with their fiery coloration and unique appearance. The petals are reddish-brown in color with bright yellow rings in the center and along the outer edges.
Reddish-brown flowers seem in late summer season, that includes yellow rings on the heart and edges.
botanical title

Helenium ‘Ring of Hearth’
bloom colours

Yellow and Crimson

4’ – 5’
hardiness zones


One other pleasant hybrid, ‘Ring of Hearth,’ is an award winner for good cause. This taller selection reaches as much as 5’ tall, making it a fantastic midground flower within the backyard. Plant this selection, and you will note many native bees and butterflies visiting the backyard.

‘Ring of Hearth’ blooms in late summer season. The flowers are a reddish brown shade, with rings of yellow towards the middle and across the outer edges. Generally the flowers have a splashier look, with the yellow parts woven all through the darker background shade. 

‘Brief n’Sassy’

Top view, close-up of Helenium 'Short n' Sassy' blooming in a sunny garden. The plant forms upright stems covered with dense, medium-sized, lanceolate green leaves. The flowers are small, showcasing a delightful combination of bright golden yellow and orange hues. The petals are slightly drooping down, creating an elegant and sophisticated look. Each flower has a vibrant chocolate brown central cone in the center.
You’ll love this dwarf selection with smaller however noteworthy brilliant golden yellow and orange flowers.
botanical title

Helenium ‘Brief n’Sassy’
bloom colours

Yellow and Orange

hardiness zones


‘Brief n’Sassy’ has some nice traits that make it fantastic for borders and foreground planting. This cultivar was hybridized to have a dwarf rising behavior, so it solely reaches about 18” tall at maturity. It was additionally bred to have an earlier and longer blooming behavior, so it would start blooming mid-summer and proceed to indicate off till September. 

This selection has smaller flowers, round 1.5” moderately than a extra normal 2”. Not an enormous distinction, however noteworthy because it was bred to be smaller. Shiny golden yellow and orange flowers have downturned petals that encompass a chocolate brown central cone. 

Pests and Ailments

Sneezeweeds are surprisingly pest-deterrent and deer-resistant. Few typical backyard pests spend a lot time in search of out these crops. As an alternative, they’re extremely common with numerous pollinating and helpful bugs. They’re weak to a couple illnesses, however for essentially the most half, Helenium is infamous for being straightforward to develop and durable.


Close-up of a slug among green foliage. Slugs are slimy, soft-bodied creatures. It has a distinct elongated cylindrical shape. Its body is covered in wet mucus. The body is brown, segmented.
Snails and slugs might goal younger Helenium crops however don’t pose extreme dangers to mature crops.

Slugs and snails could be a difficulty for younger crops, though, as soon as mature, Helenium just isn’t a lot of a goal for these slimy backyard snackers. There are numerous methods to discourage slugs and snails from consuming your crops. 

Diatomaceous earth can deter slugs and snails till it will get moist. They’re additionally not keen on bark mulches, because the bark usually has nice slivers that repel them.

A large copper strip across the exterior of your container or backyard mattress may preserve them at bay. As soon as your crops are mature, the slugs and snails are much less regarding of a difficulty.

Spider Mites

Close-up of a green leaf infested with spider mites, against a blurred green background. Spider mites are tiny arachnids. These pests are translucent reddish in color. Spider mites have a round or oval body with eight legs.
These annoying mites could be detected by their weblike buildings and inflicting shriveled development.

Spider mites are a possible downside for Helenium. Nevertheless, they’re unlikely to do nice injury to mature crops. They’re greatest detected by figuring out the skinny, weblike buildings they construct beneath plant leaves. These bugs feed on the candy sap of crops, resulting in shriveled and stunted development.

Neem oil is an efficient remedy for spider mites, as are insecticidal soaps and horticultural oils. Nevertheless, with sneezeweed being so common amongst pollinating bugs, spraying them with pesticides just isn’t very best. Use neem oil within the night after pollinators have left.

Powdery Mildew

Close-up of a green leaf of a lanceolate shape, diseased with powdery mildew, against a blurred background. The leaf is pale green in color, covered with a white powdery coating.
Powdery mildew is a standard problem for Helenium and may simply unfold in overcrowded beds.

Some varieties, corresponding to ‘Sombrero,’ have been bred for higher resistance to powdery mildew, however that is the most typical problem for different cultivars.

Powdery mildew is a fungal illness normally ensuing from overcrowding within the backyard and sometimes from watering within the night, because the damp leaves and cooler temperatures create an ideal situation for fungal spores to take maintain. 

This fungal illness is simple to detect. It causes a powdery white look to seem on foliage and may completely discolor leaves. It’s not often deadly to the plant however can result in much less strong crops that don’t flower nicely. Skinny out crops that grow to be crowded to enhance air circulation and forestall infections.


Close-up of green leaves affected by 'Rust' fungal disease. The leaves are oblong, lanceolate, bright green in color, covered with many irregular spots and dots of a rusty hue.
Water splashing spreads rust, a fungal illness inflicting blister-like lots on leaf undersides.

Rust is one other fungal illness that spreads through fungal spores, usually carried by water. Water splashing onto a leaf floor and pooling there can unfold these spores and infect the plant. Watering crops on the base moderately than overhead can assist to cut back the chance of fungal illnesses on the foliage of your crops.

Rust illnesses create purple, blister-like lots on the underside of affected leaves, releasing a purple powdery substance containing spores. On the higher floor of the lots, it will likely be reddish-brown in shade, just like the rust from which it takes its title. It doesn’t look very good, and moreover, it damages the well being of the plant as a complete, making it extra weak to different illnesses and pests.

Dusting affected crops with sulfur powder as soon as per week till the illness is now not energetic is an efficient remedy for rust, supplied that the leaves keep dry; if they don’t, the sulfur powder shall be washed off the leaves and the remedy shall be ineffective.

Leaf Spot

Close-up of a green leaf affected by the Leaf Spot disease. leaves are green, with a slightly glossy texture. The leaf surface is covered with irregular white spots with purple-black halos.
These fungal or bacterial illnesses could be mistaken for insect injury.

Leaf spot can consult with a number of totally different illnesses generally affecting decorative and edible crops and bushes. The trigger could be bacterial or fungal, and bug injury could also be mistaken for a leaf spot illness. The most typical symptom, in fact, is spots on the leaves. These could be black, brown, or white and of various styles and sizes, relying on the trigger. 

Crops within the Asteraceae household are mostly affected by Septoria, Alternaria, and Cercospora. All three of those are fungal and could be handled equally. All affected foliage must be eliminated, and the remainder of the plant must be handled with a fungicide. Keep away from permitting water to pool or sit on the leaves till issues are below management.

Remaining Ideas

Sneezeweed, or Helenium, is a flexible, hardy, low-maintenance flowering perennial. It’s straightforward to develop and native to a lot of the North American continent. Only a few pests, together with deer and rodents, are drawn to this plant, and pollinators will be glad about the late-season nectar and pollen that these crops will present.

Including a few of this beautiful, flowering plant to your backyard will deliver an enormous pop of late summer season and fall gardens and are available again yr after yr with extra of their cheery blooms!

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