Heleniums are perennials native to North and Central America found growing in damp soils in full sun. They bloom in fall and a range of cultivars have been selected and named primarily by European gardeners. The cultivar Waldtraut produces masses of bronze-orange flowers splashed with yellow. The nectar is prized by bees and butterflies. Flowering begins in very late summer and can continue until frost. Heleniums, despite the common name of sneezeweed are not responsible for allergies this time of year. Blame instead ragweeds (of the genus Ambrosia) for itchy, watery eyes, runny noses, headaches and sore throats. Heleniums have evolved in conjunction with pollinating insects that prefer plants with lots of nectar. As a result, the pollen grains are fairly large and are adapted to sticking to the backs and legs of bees and butterflies. Ragweeds on the other hand are wind pollinated and their pollen spores feature hooks and claws to help them hang onto whatever moist receptive female flowers they land on. Unfortunately, these hooks and claws do not play well with moist sensitive sinus tissues and eyes.
July - August, September - October
Bedding or Border, Specimen Plant
Attracts Birds, Attracts Butterflies