Heleniums have charming, daisy-like flowers, guaranteed to bring vibrant colour to the garden in late summer.
With blooms in hot yellows, orange and red, they look fantastic planted in drifts through a mixed border. Good companion plants are taller grasses, other daisy flowers such as echinaceas, or hot-coloured kniphofias. There are hundreds of helenium cultivars to choose from. All of them are attractive to bees and other pollinators. Heleniums also make good cut flowers.
How to grow heleniums
Grow heleniums in moist but well-drained soil in full sun. Stake taller varieties, especially in exposed conditions. Water regularly to prevent the soil from drying out, and deadhead spent blooms to keep the flowers coming. Divide congested helenium clumps every few years, in spring or autumn. Heleniums die back over winter, so cut them back after flowering.
Where to grow heleniums
Heleniums aren’t fussy plants and will be happy in most fertile, but well-drained soils. Although they can stretch to partial shade, a position with plenty of sun will guarantee a good show of flowers.
How to plant heleniums
Dig a generous hole, larger than the pot your plant is in, and add a sprinkling of mycorrhizal fungi before backfilling with soil and a spadeful of garden compost for added drainage.
In this video clip from Gardeners’ World, Monty Don plants heleniums, for a splash of late-summer colour:
Caring for heleniums
Heleniums need regular watering so don’t allow the soil to dry out. Deadhead blooms to keep the flowers coming, or cut flowers to bring indoors. Clumps can become a bit congested after a few years, so will need dividing in autumn or spring. Taller varieties are worth staking early in the season. Plants will die back over winter, so cut them back after flowering.
How to propagate heleniums
To propagate heleniums, divide plants in autumn or spring. Dig up an established clump that’s large and fairly congested. Split it with a spade and add plenty of well rotted garden compost when replanting. You can also take basal cuttings from new shoots in spring and grow on under cover until they’re established enough to plant out.
Growing heleniums: problem-solving
Heleniums are generally pest-free but can be prone to leaf spot. Remove affected leaves to stop the spread.
Helenium varieties to grow
- ‘Moerheim Beauty’ – with its crimson red flowers, this is a very popular choice. Plants grow to 1.25m, but will not reach their final height until their second year. To restrict their size, cut back to about 30cm tall in May. This will also delay flowering by a week or two
- ‘Butterpat’ – has large, 7cm-wide bright yellow flowers with a prominent, raised yellow-brown eye. It may need staking on exposed sites. The Royal Horticultural Society has given ‘Butterpat’ the prestigious Award of Garden Merit
- ‘Wyndley’ – is one of the shortest varieties, and one of the earliest to bloom. The warm yellow flowers have a darker centre and the sturdy stems make it an excellent cut flower
- ‘Waltraut’ – an erect perennial with a brown centre and copper-gold petals. The flowers can grow up to 8cm across on stems of up to 1m
- ‘The Bishop’ – these golden yellow flowers have a rich brown centre and plants will grow to around 1m tall