Elecampane (Inula helenium) was named for Helen of Troy as it sprung up from the earth on which her tears fell. Actually, there are several different stories including Helen that could be the origin for this species name. It is native from Spain to Western China, and grows wild now in North America. Its second-year roots are used for healing ailments, and its tall showy yellow flowers bring cheerful drama to the garden.
Days to maturity: Harvest roots in second year
Seeds per pack: 150
Planting / harvesting notes
Sow indoors on the surface of moist potting soil in early spring - requires light for germination. If sown indoors, transplant into the garden near the last frost, 18-24" apart. Alternatively, sow directly outdoors a few weeks before last frost.
Seed keeping notes
Allow flowers to completely dry out until they fluff like dandelions. Check the seed maturity under the fluff - if you can remove the fluff easily and you see many small hard seeds attached underneath, it is ready. Harvest the seeds and allow them to dry further in a well-ventilated place away from direct sunlight.