How to Grow Elecampane — Inula

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Inula—commonly called elecampane– bears showy daisy-like flowers in shades of orange-yellow and yellow. The blooms are carried singly or in flat-topped clusters. Flower petals are very narrow and often dropping.

Add taller Inula varieties–to 6 feet (2m) tall–to summer flower borders. Shorter varieties–to 2 feet (1.8m) tall–can be used at border edges or in rock gardens.

Inula is a genus of about 100 species of mostly perennials and some herbs.

 Elecampane, Inula helenium
Elecampane, Inula helenium

Get to know Inula

  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 4 to 9
  • Hardiness: Dies back after the first frost
  • Height and width: 2 to 6 feet (.6-1.8m) tall and 2 to 4 feet (.6-1.2m) wide
  • Foliage: Usually large basal leaves and progressively smaller stem leaves
  • Flowers: Daisy-like flower heads are flat with numerous narrow yellow ray florets and tubular disk florets are borne singly or small clusters
  • Bloom time: Mid- to late summer
  • Uses: Taller species in borders; shorter species in rock gardens or bed edging
  • Common name: Encampanes
  • Botanical name: Inula
  • Family name: Asteraceae
  • Origin: Europe and temperate Africa and Asia

Where to plant Inula

  • Grow Inula in full sun.
  • Plant Inulas in humus-rich, well-drained soil.

When to plant Inula

  • Set container-grown Inula in the garden in spring.
  • Sow seed in containers in a cold frame in spring or autumn.
 Elecampane, Inula helenium
Elecampane, Inula helenium

Planting and spacing Inula

  • Space Inula 24 to 36 inches (61-91cm) apart.
  • Sow seed ¼ inch deep in sterile potting soil or evenly prepared garden soil.

How to water and feed Inula

  • Keep the soil evenly moist.
  • Fertilize Inula in spring with an all-purpose organic fertilizer.

Inula care

  • Taller species need support.

Inula pests and diseases

  • Powdery mildew may be a problem if growing conditions are too dry.

Inula propagation

  • Sow seed in containers in a cold frame in spring or autumn.
  • Divide perennials in spring or autumn.

Inula varieties to grow

  • Inula ensifolia, leaved Inula: Species grows to 24 inches (61cm) tall; lance-shaped leaves; clusters of 2-inch-wide yellow flowers.
  • I. helenium, Elecampane: Grows 3 to 6 feet (1.8m) tall; clump-forming; bears 3-inch-wide yellow flowers.
  • I.hookeri: Grows to 30 inches (76cm) tall with lance-shaped leaves; pale yellow flowers to 3 inches wide borne singly or in small clusters.
  • I. magnifica: Species grows to 6 feet (1.8m); forms clumps; bears 6-inch-wide daisies.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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