Sneezeweed Companion Plants

Sneezeweed, botanically known as Helenium autumnale, is a prairie flower native to most regions of North America. Its cheerful and long-lasting flowers are at home in all sorts of garden settings including cottage gardens, meadow plantings, and cutting gardens. Most cultivars have bicolor combinations of hot colors that are a great transition between the late summer garden and the fiery colors of autumn. 

Sneezeweed can tolerate a wide variety of growing conditions and is one of the easiest perennials to grow. It performs best in average garden soil with moderate moisture levels and will bloom from early summer until the first frost in fall. An annual top-dressing of a slow-release fertilizer or organic compost late in the spring will keep Sneezeweed vigorous and healthy.  


Photo by Mark Wordy, unmodified, Flickr, copyright CC BY 2.0

Shrubs To Plant With Sneezeweed

Shrubs and perennials planted in garden borders are the foundation for a good ornamental design with 12 months of interest. Pair sneezeweed with summer-blooming shrubs to extend displays of color in a garden border. Early summer bloomers like spirea, choisya, and weigela have the same informal feel as sneezeweed and bloom in an array of colors to coordinate a summer palate. Late summer bloomers including potentilla, smoke bush, and rose of Sharon have deep coloring that makes a fantastic backdrop for a large grouping of sneezeweed. 

Perennials To Plant With Sneezeweed

Several herbaceous and semi-evergreen perennials grow well alongside sneezeweed. Try combining it with waterwise and drought-tolerant plants such as coneflowers, black-eyed Susan, sea holly, and clumping ornamental grasses for long-lasting color well into the fall. Another great combination is crocosmia, perennial salvia, sneezeweed, and globe thistle, which requires little maintenance or supplemental watering for months at a time. Other classic perennials that prefer full or partial sun, such as shasta daisy, aster, tall perennial phlox, hardy hibiscus, and goldenrod, also pair nicely with sneezeweed. 


Photo by Mark Wordy, unmodified, Flickr, copyright CC BY 2.0

Annuals To Plant With Sneezeweed

Taller annuals like cosmos, seed dahlias, and zinnias create a lovely display with sneezeweed. Sun lovers such as sunflowers, mealycup sage, and four o’clocks come in bold colors that can be used to contrast the equally bright sneezeweed. Lower-growing annuals such as sweet potato vine, sweet alyssum, or fan flower can be used as a weed-suppressing groundcover that can be changed from year to year. Combining annuals with perennials in a garden bed is also a great way to test different color combinations without making a big investment. 

Best Companion Plants For Sneezeweed in Containers

The shallow root system of sneezeweed makes it a good candidate for seasonal mixed planters. Plant it with shallow-rooted filler and spiller plants dotted around the edges of the container. Some of the best container companions include petunia, calibrachoa, ajuga, and sweet potato vine, which require little upkeep during the growing season. 

Sneezeweed also grows well singly in pots for container gardens in small spaces or balconies. Choose a container with drainage holes in the bottom, and use an all-purpose potting mix with ample perlite to improve drainage. Fertilize the container regularly with a diluted liquid feed to support vigorous growth and flowering. 

Plants Not To Grow With Sneezeweed

Most perennials grow well with sneezeweed, although those that prefer boggy or submerged soil are not ideal. Cattails, marsh marigold, flag iris, and rush reeds all grow best near water and do not pair well with sneezeweed. Shade lovers like ferns, most hostas, and hellebores will struggle in the sunny conditions that sneezeweed prefers. 


Photo by Mark Wordy, unmodified, Flickr, copyright CC BY 2.0

Best Plants To Grow With Sneezeweed

The best plants for combining with sneezeweed prefer full to partial sun and well-draining soil. Several shrubs, perennials, and annuals make great choices. Some of the most outstanding companions include spirea, potentilla, crocosmia, shasta daisy, salvia, and ornamental grasses. 

Sources: "Common Sneezeweed - Plant-of-the-week." U.S. Forest Service.