How to grow heleniums

How to grow heleniums

Find out all you need to know about growing gorgeous heleniums, in our detailed Grow Guide.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Plant
Plant

Do not Plant in January

Do not Plant in February

Do not Plant in March

Do not Plant in April

Do Plant in May

Do Plant in June

Do not Plant in July

Do not Plant in August

Do not Plant in September

Do not Plant in October

Do not Plant in November

Do not Plant in December

Flowers
Flowers

Plant does not flower in January

Plant does not flower in February

Plant does not flower in March

Plant does not flower in April

Plant does not flower in May

Plant does not flower in June

Plant does flower in July

Plant does flower in August

Plant does flower in September

Plant does not flower in October

Plant does not flower in November

Plant does not flower in December

Divide
Divide

Do not Divide in January

Do not Divide in February

Do Divide in March

Do Divide in April

Do not Divide in May

Do not Divide in June

Do not Divide in July

Do not Divide in August

Do not Divide in September

Do Divide in October

Do not Divide in November

Do not Divide in December

Cut back
Cut back

Do not Cut back in January

Do not Cut back in February

Do not Cut back in March

Do not Cut back in April

Do not Cut back in May

Do not Cut back in June

Do not Cut back in July

Do not Cut back in August

Do not Cut back in September

Do not Cut back in October

Do Cut back in November

Do not Cut back in December

Heleniums have charming, daisy-like flowers, guaranteed to bring vibrant colour to the garden in late summer.

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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

Planting heleniums in a pot with rudbeckias, stipa, cineraria and libertia
Planting heleniums in a pot with rudbeckias, stipa, cineraria and libertia

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

Honeybee visiting a yellow-flowered helenium
Honeybee visiting a yellow-flowered helenium

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

Young helenium plug plants to be potted on
Young helenium plug plants to be potted on

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

Helenium 'Moerheim Beauty'
Helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty’
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  • ‘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