the Helenium or elenio is a herbaceous plant, ascribed to the Astaraceae, native to North America and many widespread in California. It has a bushy stem, which reaches 1 meter in height. If grown it has an annual or perennial cycle. The root is fleshy and robust and generates thin and flexible stems with lanceolate leaves forming basal rosettes. The color is bright green, and are covered by a thick and short hair. The flowers recall daisies with a corolla of long petals that surround a central disc that has a color that goes from yellow to brown, through orange. The petals can be yellow, orange or red.
The Helenium plant prefers environments with direct and prolonged sun exposure, but protected from the wind. It has no particular problems with hot summers and harsh winters and has very few requirements regarding the type of terrain. The important thing is that there is good drainage, humidity and a high organic component. Watering must be abundant, especially during periods of drought and flowering. For good growth the soil should be added approximately every 2 months with slow release granular fertilizers with nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, or using liquid fertilizers for flowering plants every 20 days, diluted in irrigation water, if possible of rain origin . For the propagation it is sufficient to divide the tufts in October or in late spring. Both for repotting and to multiply it, it is sufficient to bury with roots and bread in holes of a depth of thirty centimeters, at least half a meter apart. After flowering the plant must be pruned at the base to allow the new throws the following spring.
Diseases and cures
The slugs and snails are greedy of the tender and juicy shoots of this plant, and are one of the main threats to its growth. In case of excessively humid climate, aphids can infest the turn-around of the leaves and the stems. The Helenium fears little fungus and root rot if the soil does not show stagnation. To protect the plants from attack by their voracious enemies they can surround themselves with chimney ashes, which keeps the snails away. In winter it is useful to mulch the base with straw to protect it.
Its long-lasting pendulous petals are, in the language of flowers, the symbol of tears.
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