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Helenium 'Helbro' MARDI GRAS

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Kemper Code:  C869

Common Name: sneezeweed
Zone: 4 to 8
Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asteraceae
Missouri Native: No
Native Range: None
Height: 2 to 3 feet
Spread: 1 to 2 feet
Bloom Time: August - October  
Bloom Color: Yellow and red rays with brown centers
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Medium

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Plant Culture and Characteristics

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  Uses:       Wildlife:   Flowers:   Leaves:   Fruit:
Hedge Suitable as annual Attracts birds Has showy flowers Leaves colorful Has showy fruit
Shade tree Culinary herb Attracts Has fragrant flowers Leaves fragrant Fruit edible
Street tree Vegetable   hummingbirds Flowers not showy Good fall color   Other:
Flowering tree Water garden plant Attracts Good cut flower Evergreen Winter interest
Gr. cover (<1') Will naturalize   butterflies Good dried flower     Thorns or spines

General Culture:

Easily grown in average, medium to wet soils in full sun. Prefers rich, moist soils. Intolerant of dry soils. Avoid over fertilization which may cause plants to grow too tall. Although not required, plants may be pinched back in May to reduce plant height and to encourage branching, thus leading to a more floriferous bloom, healthier foliage and less need for support. Remove spent flowers to encourage additional bloom. Cut back plants by 1/2 after flowering. Divide clumps as needed (every 3-4 years) to maintain vigor. Propagate plants by division.

Noteworthy Characteristics:

MARDI GRAS is an erect, clump-forming, sneezeweed with bushy basal growth. It grows 30-40 tall on rigid, stems clad with alternate, obovate, green leaves (to 4 long). It was discovered as a chance seedling of two unidentified Helenium cultivars growing in a controlled environment in Worcester, United Kingdom, in 1996. Each daisy-like flower (to 2 diameter) has yellow and red bicolored ray florets surrounding a prominent, dome-like, deep brown center disk. Yellow rays are irregularly splashed with various shades of red. Flowers bloom for about 2 months from early to late summer. Genus name comes from the Greek word helios (sun). Powdered disk flowers and leaves of the heleniums have in the past been dried and used as snuff, thus giving rise to the common name of sneezeweed. U. S. Plant Patent PP15,124 was issued August 31, 2004.


No serious insect or disease problems. Foliage is susceptible to powdery mildew, leaf spot and rust. Plants generally require some staking or other support and may benefit from pinching or July-cutback as detailed above.


Borders. Also effective in prairies, meadows, cottage gardens, wild gardens or in moist soils along bodies of water. Impressive when massed.

Missouri Botanical Garden, 2001-2011