Heleniums – A Comparison
I’ve gathered together our range of Heleniums into one page so that you can view them all side by side with descriptions. Hopefully this will give you a chance to choose between them without the need to keep swapping between products. I’ve ranked them in rough order of height from shortest to tallest. They all make excellent cut flowers, the later flowering being excellent at harvest Festival.
- Helenium ‘Wyndley’ is a possibly the shortest and earliest to flower of the Heleniums. The flowers are a warm orange, suffused with red and set off with a dark centre. They are produced in abundance from June through July on relatively stiff, well branched stems. Easily grown in any good soil. 60-80cm
- Helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty’ . This is one of the most popular varieties of Helenium and deservedly so. The flowers are a rich mahogany red with a rich dark brown centre. For an old variety it has really stood the test of time. In habit it branches well from the base with fairly stiff stems to 90-100cm producing a real hit of colour in the garden. To add to this it is an excellent nectar source for bees. It flowers early to mid season, ending before Helenium ‘Indian Summer’ has begun.
Helenium ‘Butterpat’ (AGM)
- Helenium ‘Butterpat’ (AGM) is a good rich yellow form of Sneezeweed providing a powerful splash of warm colour to the border in late summer. The flowers are a rich butter yellow with a similarly coloured yellow bun centre. It is very similar to Helenium ‘Kanaria’ in flower colour and form but half the height with a bushier habit. Easily grown in all but the very wettest and driest soils. 60cm. A bee magnet. 60-80cm
- Helenium ‘Sahin’s Early Flowerer’ is a lovely summery daisy with prominent brown centres, loved by bees. Flowers open yellowy-orange streaked with darker orange and become redder with age, creating a rich mix of colour which goes on and on from June to October. As its name suggests, it is the earliest of all the Heleniums. It is medium in the height range and produces a more leafy plant than some with a super abundance of flowers. 1m high
- Helenium ‘Kanaria’. A useful mid to late summer flowering sneezeweed with canary yellow petals and centre. It flowers about mid-season for the Heleniums and is a one of the taller varieties at 1.2m plus. It is extremely similar to butterpat in colouring, but can achieve twice its height with a more upright, less branched habit. It is a lovely warm yellow colour for the summer garden and is a magnet for bees. Easily grown in all but the very wettest and driest soils. 1.2m
- Helenium ‘Indian Summer’. This is probably the tallest and the latest flowering, but well worth the wait. The flowers are rich coppery red in large heads with a velvety brown bun centre. It flowers profusely from August through September and into October, making a striking show and being an invaluable nectar source for the bees. Easily grown in sun and any good soil. 120cm plus
The breeding on Heleniums draws from a wide range of species such that most cultivars aren’t assigned to one single species. As a rule, those species that are tall derive a lot of their stature from Helenium autumnale. They are all good reliable perennials, enjoying a moist soil in full sun (in fact growing in any soil short of a bog). The foliage is never anything great to look at, but the flowers do a great deal to add colour to the summer border and are an absolute magnet for the bees.
Heleniums are one of a group of warm coloured late summer daisies that are often confused.
Of the daisies with a pronounced central nose, there are three main genera, Helenium, Rudbeckia and Echinacea.
Echinacea are the easiest to identify as they have a cone centre which is spiky to the touch. They used to come mainly in pinks and white, but with modern breeding yellows and oranges have been added to the mix.
Rudbeckia have similiar shaped cones to the Echinacea, sometimes more elongated, but the cones are soft to the touch. Rudbeckias come in yellows and oranges, touching on brown.
Heleniums have a much rounder, bun shaped brown or yellow nose with a lovely felty feel. As the flower ages and the fertile flowers mature a ring of yellow stamens pops out. It always looks to me like embers chasing over a burnt log. They cover yellow, orange and red.
Helenium – (Sneezeweed) Helenium comes from the greek ‘helenion’, the name used for another plant, possibly Inula helenium. Ultimately the name refers to Helen of Troy as the plant is said to have sprouted from the ground where Helen of Troy wept tears. The common name ‘sneezeweed’ comes from the use by the American Indians of the plant to promote nasal discharge (errhine). It is only one of several other plants that share the name sneezeweed, including Achillea ptarmica, Hymenoxs hoopesii and Centipeda cunninghamii.
Heleniums are members of the family Compositae comprising the daisies. Whilst you might look at the flower of a daisy and think you are looking at a single flower, what you are actually looking at is an inflorescence – a group of flowers. In daisies the flowerhead, or more rightly the capitulum, is a composite of two types of flowers. In the centre are the disc florets which are small, normally tubular and fertile. They produce the nectar that attracts insects and lead to the seeds. Outside these in a ring are the ray florets which are like flattened petals. These are colourful and have the job of getting the flowerhead noticed.