Late summer to me is about kicking back and enjoying the garden with family and friends, so I rely upon easy-care plants are the mainstay of my designs.
Sneezeweed is frequently overlooked in favour of the summer time summer daisies coneflower (Echinacea spp) and black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia), yet this both demanding and attractive summer bloomer has a unique, lively multicolored palette. Planted en masse to make a meadow effect or at smaller numbers as an accent to richly colored foliage, this continuing will win you over and be a regular guest at your summer celebrations.
Botanical name: Helenium‘Mardi Gras’
Common names: Sneezeweed, Helen’s blossom
USDA zones: 3 to 9; hardy to -40 degrees Fahrenheit; find your zone
Water necessity: Low
Light requirement: Full sun or partial shade
Mature dimensions: 3 feet tall and wide
Advantages and tolerances: Drought tolerant, deer resistant (within my garden at least), good cut flower, attracts bees and butterflies
Seasonal interest: Summer
When to plant: Spring or fall
Distinguishing traits. This perennial is not for the faint of heartdisease. A flouncing skirt of vivid orange splashed haphazardly with gold surrounds a prominent black cone. Each flower is exceptional, giving the impression of a troupe of spinning dancers at a wild party.
As the buds available, every chocolate”button” appears to be sporting a necklace of brightly colored beads.
The best way to use it.
In massive drifts: Planted en masse and united with smoky grasses and other prairie-type blossoms, sneezeweed will give you a colorful meadow effect in a late-season border. In smaller numbers: Highlight the dark fundamental cone by combining Mardi Gras with heavy brown, purple or burgundy foliage, like that of Diablo ninebark (Physocarpus spp, shown).
Planting notes. Plant generally, well-drained soil in autumn or spring. You can divide mature clumps as required in spring by clipping through them with a sharp spade and replanting every segment. When grown in full sunlight, sneezeweed does not need staking. In semi color it might be necessary to support the long stems with a simple network of rods.