Helenium (Sneezeweed) ‘Mariachi Series’

There are very few people in my “circle” who give a rat’s ass about my garden. I know, sad but true.

But I’ll be fine.

Every once in a while, however, a visitor will ask to tour my garden. You would think I’d be all pumped up, but no.

My first instinct is to say “Oh hell no.” Those massive weeds hidden on the side of the house will be exposed. All areas of the garden currently “under construction” will need to be explained away. Can’t we just walk through this blog where all looks perfect? Where I can control what you can and cannot see.

Eventually I will relent and take the visitor by the hand into my little private world of plants. But before any tour commences, I make sure I answer a few questions quietly to myself so I know how to proceed with my visitor.

“When asked ‘what plant is this?’, do I give them the Latin name and sound like a pompous ass or the common name which I actually don’t know in most instances?”

The easiest way to know how to proceed here is to determine the plant knowledge of your visitor. I try and ask them something simple like “What is your favorite plant?” and then study the response. While you may not get all of the necessary intel, it can often be quite telling.

“Do I initiate the walk and the direction it takes or allow my visitor to make that decision?”

I almost always let them take the lead. I like to see if my garden layout and structure naturally leads them where I want them to go. This is where I hope my paths pull them in and make them want to explore what is around the corner.

“Do I allow my visitor to walk IN the garden risking soil compaction or plant stomping or be up front and threaten physical violence should they venture anywhere beyond the lawn?”

I tend to have faith in my visitor and their understanding of garden tour etiquette. However, if it is a dopey male friend, I have no issue laying down the law.

How much is too much information?

This question is ultimately what prompted today’s post. I had originally planned a straight forward piece on a few of my favorite Sneezeweed plants. But then I rememberd back to this past summer when I was walking the garden with a friend who stopped and admired my massing of these Sneezeweed.

“What are these?”

Here were my options for answering:

A. Sneezeweed (common name)

B. Helenium (Latin name)

C. Those are Helenium or Sneezeweed, dwarf in nature and are part of the somewhat newly introduced ‘Mariachi Series’ which includes ‘Sombrero’, ‘Salsa’ and ‘Siesta’.

I answered “C” and lost my visitor’s attention from that point forward.

The lesson here: Always answer “A” and move on.

All kidding aside, I am in love with all of the Helenium ‘Mariachi Series’ plants. They have been thriving for me since year one (three years ago). They bloom profusely all summer into fall, have never been nipped by the deer or rabbits and come back year after year.

Some quick info on these beauties:

  • Size is about 20″ x 24″
  • Survives zone 3-9
  • Prefers full sun
  • Blooms from June to September
  • Likes some moisture but not too wet. Mine have survived a few wet winters to date.

But to really sell these, I’ll allow you to take a look at some photos I’ve taken this past year from summer through fall.















8 thoughts on “Helenium (Sneezeweed) ‘Mariachi Series’

  1. James Golden

    Ok. You convinced me. I have to try Helenium. I’ve always thought they would die in my heavy clay, but your’s couldn’t be that different. Could it?

    1. jmarkowski Post author

      The dwarf cultivars thrive but the species always topples unless I surround it with taller and fuller plants. I tried cutting back a few times throughout the summer and they still fell over.

  2. Kate

    My Salsa heleniums are the stars of the fall garden. I have multiple other cultivars but these are da bomb. I have them in absolutely soggy soil, with direct afternoon sun. No problem, they say. I’m a year in with some of the newer cultivars of the series (Ranchera is one) and they had some mildew but did flower well. Time will tell if they deserve the kudos that Salsa earns.

    Thanks for the tour tips. I always feel clumsy giving the tours. I want to tell them everything but am certain they want to hear pretty much nothing. Will take your lead and stick with common names. I like the idea of letting people choose the route, great tip.

    1. jmarkowski Post author

      Thanks Kate! I don’t have Ranchera but now need to check it out. Do you have any photos of yours?

  3. Alice

    I have had my Helenium ‘Dancing Flames’ since 2005, It did so great the first year, it more than doubled in size, so in the spring I divided it into 3. You would think by now it would one big clump. No. It is still sulking. I loved the name, and I love it as a cut flower. It lasts a long time in a vase. This variety grows to 36″ and needs support. I am going to look for the Mariachi series this spring and will buy 3 this time so I wont be tempted to divide it.
    If someone comments on one of my plants, I always offer to share it. Just don’t ask how it is doing. If all goes well they will let you know, if not you don’t want to know.

    1. jmarkowski Post author

      Let me know if you take the plunge and buy them Alice. I cannot endorse them enough.

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