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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Helenium Flowers

Type of Flower
Helenium is a genus of about 40 species of annuals and deciduous herbaceous perennials in the daisy family Asteraceae native to the Americas. They bear yellow or orange daisy-like composite flowers. A number of these species (particularly Helenium autumnale) have the common name Helen's Flower and sneezeweed, based on the former use of their dried leaves in making snuff, inhaled to cause sneezing that would supposedly rid the body of evil spirits. Larger species may grow up to 2 metres (6.6 ft) tall. 
Helenium species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Phymatopus behrensii.
Numerous cultivars have been developed for garden use - mainly from H. autumnale and H. bigelovii. They are useful for late summer and fall bloom, usually in less formal compositions. They are appropriate for native gardens in areas where they are indigenous, and they look wonderfully in bouquets. Annual species are easily grown from seed, and perennials should be divided every year in order to retain their vigor. The soil should be fertile with a generous amount of organic manner in the form of compost, manure or other decayed organic matter in addition to, perhaps, an application of a complete fertilizer in spring. Heleniums should be grown in full sun average to moist soil with good drainage. They are drought tolerant, but should be watered on planting and regularly until established.
Helenium Hybrid has brilliant yellow petals surround spherical brown cones covered with golden pollen. It grows to 0.9 metres (3 ft) tall and takes up about 0.6 metres (2 ft) of space, the hardiness zone rating is 4-9. Its Flowers appear for six weeks from mid to late summer and attract butterflies in droves. It provides a splash of colour when many other perennials are starting to fade, it may accompany ornamental grasses, Phlox and Liatris.
Heleniums need an open sunny position in good soil. They will not grow in waterlogged conditions. 
  • Add lots of compost when planting to increase moisture. This will allow light, sandy soils to retain water and open up clay soils - thereby improving drainage. 
  • Keep new plants well watered and water all plants in dry spells. The flowers curl and the foliage flags if they are too dry. 
  • Stake taller varieties with hazel or canes and string. 
  • You can pick out the growing tips in May to get bushier plants - this is a useful technique with younger plants. 
  • You can also take tip cuttings from the new growth in April. Some people also do a Chelsea Chop. But only do this on deep, fertile soil. The chop delays flowering time - so they perform later. 
  • Dead head constantly to promote more flowers. This will keep your plants in flower for months and, even if they have a lull, they will re-bloom later.
  • Heleniums are best divided in spring just as they start into growth. Do not divide them in the autumn because winter wet can kill your divisions.
  • Use two forks back to back to part established clumps, using the material on the outside because it’s the most vigorous plant material. 
  • You can divide down to a single rosette if you need to. Heleniums are robust growers and will make a substantial plant fairly quickly - even from one rosette.
Heleniums associate well with later-flowering perennials and grasses. My favourite combination is Agastache 'Blue Fortune' planted with red or orange heleniums. But they grow with a wide variety of plants and these include crocosmias, bronze fennel, Verbena bonariensis, many taller grasses, warmly coloured dahlias like 'David Howard', veronicastrums and monardas. Other daisies in varying colours also work well as long as they are taller and airier. But do be bold and use large blocks of the same helenium - if you have room.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Hellebores Flowers

Type of Flower 
Hellebores flowers resemble roses,common names,Corsican Hellebore (Helleborus argutifolius),Christmas Rose (Helleborus nigra),Green Hellebore (Helleborus viridis),Lenten Rose (Helleborus x hybridus, H. orientalis),Stinking Rose (Helleborus foetidus)in shape. Long blooming, mostly in creamy shades of white, tinged with green and/or pin, the colors tend to change or deepen as they age. There is a lot of hybridizing going on and more colors are becoming available. Flower stems shoot up above the foliage, but nod under the weight of the flowers, which tend to bloom face down.
Hardiness will vary with species, but most Hellebores are rate USDA Hardiness Zones 4-9. The foliage forms a low clump, but when the plants are in bloom, they reach a height of about 1 ½ - 2 ft. and spread 1 - 1 ½ ft. wide. 
These are shade garden plants. Hellebores prefer partial to full shade. They can handle spring sun, but plant them in a spot that will become shadier as trees and other plants flush out.
Blooming depends on both the species and your climate. The Christmas Rose (H. niger) can bloom in December in Zones 7 or warmer, but rarely blooms until spring in colder climates. Most species can be counted on to bloom somewhere between December to April and will stay in bloom for a month or longer. 
Hellebores are one of the first perennials to bloom in the spring and their foliage will remain attractive into the summer, so they are suitable for splashy, mass plantings. They also complement foundation plantings and are ideal for woodland gardens.
Varieties H. foetidus ‘Wester Flisk’ - Red tinge to stems and leaf stalks (1 ½ ', zones 6-9) H. x hybridus ‘Phillip Ballard’ - Dark blue, almost black flowers. (1 ½ ', zones 6-9) H. x hybridus ‘Citron’ - unusual primrose yellow blooms (1 ½ ', zones 6-9)
All Hellebores are shade garden plants, preferring partial shade and a rich, moist soil, high in organic matter. Although they like some moisture, don't let them sit in wet soil for prolonged periods of time or they will rot. 
Seed is available, but it will be for a mix of colors. If you want a particular variety, you will need to purchase plants because they have either been selected or possibly hybridized. 
Most varieties will reseed, but since they are hybrids, you never know what you'll get. You can move the seedlings to another location in the garden, once they are large enough to handle and have developed true leaves. 
If you want to make it even easier on you and the transplants, collect the seed pods and let them fully ripen and dry. When they split open in early summer, scatter the seeds where you want them to grow. 
Or start them in pots and plant them out when they are large enough to move. Hellebore seeds don't remain viable very long. Always start with fresh seed. Fresh seed can be planted in containers and left outdoors throughout the summer. Keep the soil moist and you should see germination in either the fall or the following spring. 
If you sow them as soon as they drop from the pods, they will germinate with minimal effort. As they sit, they develop a hard coating and go dormant. It can take a year or more for them to complete their dormancy cycle. 
Stored Hellebore seeds need to be stratified, before planting. They will do this naturally outdoors, but if you want to start seeds indoors, it will take some finesse. These are directions given to me by another gardener. I have not tired this method myself, but he said he's had variable results, depending on the quality of the seeds. You may need to adjust the time you chill them. 
1-First, soak the seeds in hot water, until they start to swell. This can take a day or two. 
2-Sow them and keep the pots at about 70 F, for 6 weeks. 
3-Then move them to a cooler spot, at about 50 F. You should see germination within another 4 - 6 weeks. 
The only real maintenance the plants require is a little cleaning up of their fading leaves. If foliage is winter worn, it can be cut back to basal growth in the spring, before flowering. Hellebores don't really require division, but it won't hurt them to be divided, if you want to make more plants. The best time to divide is in early spring, before they flower. It is easiest to dig the entire plant and shake or wash off the soil, so you can see where the buds are on the crown. Make sure each division has at least 2 buds. (H. foetidus and H. argutifolius do not divide well and are best started from seed.)