Connecticut Garden Journal: It's Rudbeckia's Time To Shine

Aug 31, 2017

I call this the golden time of year in the garden. Goldenrods and sunflowers are peaking. But the plant that really shines in late-summer is rudbeckia or black-eyed Susan. 

Black-eyed Susans are such a common wildflower we often overlook them. While the native version grows on roadsides, meadows, and gardens everywhere, there are some newer types that expand the color pallet and size of this perennial.

And their petals can be used to discern true love -- you know, she loves me, she loves me not...

Indian Summer and Cherokee Sunset are two hybrids with semi-double, bronze, red, and orange petaled flowers that stand two feet tall.

Toto only grows one foot tall making it perfect for containers. But unfortunately, some of these new hybrids are short lived perennials in our climate.

For hardy, taller rudbeckia try Golden Glow and Goldsturm. Both grows five to seven feet tall. Goldsturm has yellow drooping petals, while Golden Glow has double flowers.

They both spread by underground rhizomes, making a nice hedge plant or filling in the back of a flower border. Golden Glow is also known as the privy plant. It was grown around outhouses to block the view.

Rudbeckias are easy to grow. They love full sun and well-drained, moist soil. The hardier types self-sow readily so be prepared to deadhead them or weed out seedlings in spring.

However, in a wildflower meadow let them drop their seed to spread. You should wait to brush hog meadows until after frost so the seeds have time to mature and the birds, bees, and butterflies can enjoy the flowers. 

Next week on the Connecticut Garden Journal, I'll be talking about canning tomatoes. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.