Orange sneezeweed – info, planting, care and tips

Orange sneezeweed (Helenium hoopesii)
Orange sneezeweed (Helenium hoopesii)

With the orange sneezeweed, warm sun colors come into the bed! How to plant and care for Helenium hoopesii.

Profile of orange sneezeweed:

Scientific name: Helenium hoopesii

Plant family: aster or daisy family (Asteraceae)

Other names: owl’s claws, yerba del lobo

Sowing time: pre-culture from Februar/March indoor, plant in open from mid-May, when no frosts occur

Planting time: autumn

Flowering period: May to June

Location: sunny

Soil quality: loamy, nutrient rich, humus rich, Toelrates lime

These information are for temperate climate!

Use in: flower beds, bouquets, single position, group planting, rose companions, borders, flower garden, park area, prairie garden, rose garden

Winter hardiness: hardy, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 3

Bee and insect friendly: Yes

orange sneezeweed

Plant characteristics and classification of orange sneezeweed

Plant order, origin and occurrence of orange sneezeweed

The orange sneezeweed (Helenium hoopesii) is an early bloomer. It is also known as owl’s claws. All Helenium representatives come from the wide plains of the North American prairie. They belong to the daisy family (Asteraceae).

Characteristics of orange sneezeweed


A loose, upright growth, plus flowers that look like little suns: Helenium hoopesii has this property in common with all Heleniums. The orange sneezeweed is one of the smaller representatives of the genus with a stature heigth og 50 to 70 centimeters (20 to 28 in).


The deciduous, whole-edged leaves are up to 30 centimeters (12 in) long and are lance-shaped. They feel leathery and are dark green to gray-green in color.


With its slightly hanging, orange-yellow petals, the orange sneezeweed is somewhat different from its relatives. The flowers, which are reminiscent of daisies, sit on stems 60 to 80 centimeters (24 to 32 in) high. They appear at the end of May – the earliest of all Helenium representatives – and reach up to ten centimeters (4 in) in diameter. The flowers are a highlight for insects in the summer garden.


When the flowers of Helenium hoopesii ripens, small achenes form – a special form of nut fruit. Like many daisies, they have a pappus: This is a kind of flying apparatus made of fine hairs that carries the light seeds away from the mother plant in the wind.

Reddish flower of orange sneezeweed
Reddish flower of orange sneezeweed

Orange sneezeweed – cultivation and care


In any case, the location should be sunny – this is what the orange sneezeweed is used to from the native North American prairie. It comes into its own in natural beds, in borders with wild flowers, as well as on the edge of the meadow.


The orange sneezeweed loves a nutritious, loamy soil. Some compost in spring is recommended, if the topsoil is rather sandy. Like so many prairie perennials, Helenium hoopesii detests waterlogging. Of all sneezeweeds, it copes best with dryness. However, it prefers a fresh floor.


It is best to bring the orange sneezeweed into the ground in autumn. Then it can start the next year with an established root system. Due to their visual dominance, they should be placed either individually or in groups of a maximum of three plants in the bed.


Especially in dry periods, the perennial should be watered again and again, especially in the first year.


Some compost can be added in spring.


It is best to cut off faded flowers regularly. The perennial concentrates on new flowers and so does not develop any seeds. If the orange sneezeweed is too high, cut the perennial at the end of May about a third, which is also called Chelsea Chop. This stimulates it to branch out. It grows more compactly, but the flowering period shifts a bit backwards. Please do not shorten it too soon, otherwise Helenium hoopesii will become too wide and tip over.


The orange sneezeweed can be propagated by dividing and by sowing.

At some point the clusters of Helenium hoopesii go bald from the inside – this usually happens after three years. Then it is time to divide it, which is done from March. To do this, you lift the plants out of the earth with the spade and put the vital parts back in at the new location. Alternatively, you can divide the orange sneezeweed directly after flowering. Then the newly planted roots of the orange sneezeweed must be kept very moist so that they can grow reliably.

The best time for sowing in the box on the windowsill is from mid-February to the end of March. Helenium rises reliably and evenly and can be pricked out into not so small plant pallets or pots about three weeks after sowing. It is best to plant outdoors only after there is no more frost expected and after the young plants have been sufficiently hardened.

Tip: Do not cover the seeds with soil, just slightly press on. Set up the seed box to germinate at about 20 °C / 68 °F and ensure even moisture. After the seedlings have emerged, cool slightly to 16-18 ° C / 61-64 °F.

Diseases and pests

All sneezeweeds release substances to the ground through their roots that are fatal to nematodes. For this reason, they also help to protect their planting partners. Snails like to eat new shoots. If there are any malformations on leaves and flowers, the perennial should be disposed of, in the organic waste: This damage pattern shows a fortunately rare virus attack.


Covering the rhizome is the best way to protect Helenium hoopesii from frostbite and extreme cold. On well-drained soils that are not too wet, it copes well without winter protection.

Use in the garden

Perennial beds or a prairie garden are predestined for Helenium hoopesii. The orange sneezeweed thrives on the edge of the wood if the root competition is not too big. Other yellow flowers like forest sunflower (Helianthus) or coneflower (Rudbeckia) are suitable as planting partners. Filigree summer bloomers such as garden cosmos (Cosmea) and Tagetes also look nice in matching colors. And for a cheerful summer bouquet you can combine them all in the vase.


Directly selected varieties of Helenium hoopesii are hardly found on the market. However, the cultivation between Helenium autumnale and Helenium hoopesii has given rise to numerous sneezeweed hybrids.

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