About Autumn Sneezeweed: In spite of its name, no part of this plant causes sneezing; this name comes from the historical use of the leaves as a substitute for snuff. In former times, people often used snuff to induce sneezing in the belief that it would purge the body of evil. Linnaeus gave this family of plants the genus name Helenium in honor of Helen of Troy, remembering the myth that her tears produced a similar plant on the island of Pharos. Autumn Sneezeweed was known in Europe by 1729, and soon became a beloved addition to perennial gardens.
Autumn Sneezeweed Germination: Direct sow in the spring, pressing the tiny seeds in the surface of rich soil and sprinkling a very thin layer of soil on top; this seed needs light to germinate. Mixing the seed with a small amount of sand may help in seed distribution. Keep the soil moist until germination, which usually occurs within 14-21 days. To start indoors, plant the seed on the surface of the soil in a flat; keep it lightly moist and at a temperature of 70 degrees F until germination. Transplant seedlings outdoors as soon as they can safely be handled. This plant adapts well to clay soil or marshy areas.
Growing Autumn Sneezeweed Seeds: Keep these plants consistently moist, since they do not tolerate drought conditions. Though they usually require staking if they reach their full height, cutting the plants back in mid-summer will produce a more compact and bushy plant that does not need support. Deadheading will help the plant produce the greatest amount of blooms; cut the plant back by half after it finishes flowering. Mature plants can be divided after three or four years of growth. This plant attracts bees and butterflies and resists deer and rabbits.
Harvesting Autumn Sneezeweed: For fresh flowers, cut long stems of flowers that have just opened and place them in water immediately; strip the leaves that will fall below the water.
Saving Autumn Sneezeweed Seeds: After the petals drop off, the domed centers will turn a mature golden brown; as soon as the stems just below the heads begin to turn brown, remove the heads. Spread them out to dry for several days, then shake or rub them lightly to remove the seeds. Clean the seeds as well as possible, but keep in mind that the chaff attached to each seed will not affect germination. Store the seeds in a cool, dry place.
Detailed Autumn Sneezeweed Info: Origin: US Native Other Common Names: Common Sneezeweed, Helen's Flower, Dogtooth Daisy Duration: Perennial Bloom Time: Fall Height: 36-60 inches Spacing: 24-36 inches Light: Full Sun to Part Shade Soil Moisture: Medium to Wet USDA Zone: 3a-8b Seeds Per Oz: 100,000 Produces branching stems with narrow, pointed 4-5” leaves and abundant clusters of 2” yellow daisy-like flowers with notched, fan-shaped petals and a domed yellow center.