A sneezeweed sets things ablaze in Rosemoor's Hot Garden

Plant of the Month for July is the exuberant Helenium 'Sahin's Early Flowerer'

Bold groups of this sun-loving plant take a leading role in the exuberant display in the Hot Garden; Rosemoor’s ‘take’ on prairie style planting. The daisy yellow flowers are streaked with orange (or are they orange with yellow streaks?), with a chocolate brown button in the middle making it one of our best attractants for butterflies and bees.

The common name, sneezeweed is because the roots were ground up and used as snuff by Native Americans– the resulting sneeze was reputed to drive away evil spirits! Perhaps the other common name of ‘Helen’s flower’ is more appropriate at Rosemoor; Helen being one of the horticulturists closely involved in the development of the Hot Garden.

This is one of those herbaceous perennials that responds well to the ‘Chelsea chop’, so the beginning of the Chelsea Flower Show is the signal for the garden staff to get out their secateurs and bravely cut the plants down by about half. Although it appears drastic, it makes the plant sturdier; we do not need to stake and it flowers well into autumn.

Originating from North America, heleniums feel happiest amongst other prairie plants and grasses and as its name implies, this Helenium flowers a little earlier than others of the same species; kicking off the Hot Garden’s fireworks display. The heat is turned up when the reds, oranges, blues and purples of Salvia, Lobelia, Hemerocallis, Kniphofia, Coreopsis, Crocosmia and Achillea join in a little later. H. 'Sahin's Early Flowerer' AGM also combines well with Verbena, Echinacea, Rudbeckia, Thalictrum and Monarda.

Grasses that associate well include the Panicum cultivars with their light airy flowers and especially those that develop red leaves such as P. virgatum ‘Squaw’, Shenandoah’ and ‘Rehbraun’. We also grow it with Miscanthus and Molinia cultivars.

If you want a ‘hot’ effect in your garden, then you can’t go far wrong by starting off by combining H. 'Sahin's Early Flowerer' with a couple of grasses obtainable from Rosemoor Plant Centre.

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