Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Don't Sneeze at Sneezeweed

Today was another relatively quiet one.  We did have some morning activity at the Horticulture Center with Patrea and Ron P. coming in to repair some holiday lights.  While the Holiday Lights Show (HLS) is up and ready (starts this Friday, December 12th!), we continue to process donated and problematic lights so they're ready as quick replacements or can be packed away for the HLS 2015.  We also had our Garden Development & Maintenance Committee Meeting which included Larry H., Christine, Christy, Big John, Maury, Dick P., Hal R., Gary and Dr. Yahr.  We're already talking about 2015 and getting squared away with some plans for collections and other garden improvements.  Urban stopped by and is still recovering from some broken ribs. 
The blog today is a "teaser of color" for plants that wont be blooming for many months yet to come.  The perennial sneezeweeds (or Helen's flower) are wonderful composites in the sunflower family known for lengthy bloom periods in late summer.  The common name is based on the former use of its dried leaves in making snuff, inhaled to cause sneezing that would supposedly rid the body of evil spirits (Wikipedia).  This North American native prefers moist soils and is not drought tolerant.  Flower colors are primarily in the yellows, oranges and reds although there are interesting selections with double petals, fluted petals (see 'Tie Dye' above), a bicolor appearance, etc.  Each variety offers it's own contribution and I've never grown one I didn't like.  Heights for the majority of sneezeweeds are between 3' and 5' although there are now some very effective, shorter-statured selections that only get 18"-24" tall (see the Mariachi series below).  Mostly Helenium autumnale or hybrids, these selections like full sun and are wonderful for late season pollinators.  Consider cutting these plants down by half before the end of June to encourage a tighter, shorter plant with more flowers on winged stems later in the season.  The bottom of the blog features 'Dakota Gold' which is an annual sneezeweed (Helenium amarum) and is a very long-blooming bedding plant for full sun.
'Tie Dye'
'Tie Dye' close-up
Mariachi 'Siesta'
Mariachi 'Salsa'
 Mariachi 'Fuego'
Mariachi 'Fuego'
'Sonnenwunder' (late in season)
'Mardi Gras'
'Double Trouble'
Helenium amarum 'Dakota Gold' - annual (above and below)


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