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Setting up a wildlife garden

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Helenium autumnale (Sneezeweed)
Helenium with bumblebee

Zone: 3 to 8

Soil: loam to clay

Light: Full sun

Bloom colour: Yellow

Bloom period: Mid to late summer

Height: 3 to 6 feet

Moisture: medium to moist

Attracts: Bumblebees

Notes: Sneezeweed has charming and delightful yellow flowers with a large ball in the centre surrounded by frilly petals. A spray of these flowers is quite attractive and it is often planted in gardens both ornamental and wild. It would also work out quite well in a children's garden. The plant itself is native to a large area of North America and typically grows in wet meadows or marshes.

Helenium starts blooming in August and goes well into September. Its interesting flowers and its long bloom has encouraged plant breeders to produce various cultivars by cross-breeding with other species*. These cultivars should be avoided in a wildlife garden.

Even though it is a wetland plant, it will grow easily in a garden that has a loam or clay soil. It needs a place where the soil never completely dries out if you want it to look its best. It also makes a nice centrepiece for a large container as it is quite upright in appearance. Full sun is best but it will still flower well when only exposed to the sun for a part of the day.

Helenium autumnale is a fantastic garden plant for the back of the border and it attracts a lot of bees. It is the only species of Helenium that is native to Ontario. Helenium flexuosum is native to the Eastern United States, but has been introduced to Ontario. In the mid-atlantic states and further south, Helenium amarum, which is smaller and prefers dry sandy soils, is another common species.

*Reference: "Perennials" by Roger Philips and Martyn Rix.

Sneezeweed
Helenium flowers native
Sneezeweed
Helenium autumnale
Sneezeweed