One of the most well known perennials is the Black Eyed Susan. The only problem is, which black eyed susan do you have? You see, this is the problem with using nicknames instead of the botanical name of a plant.
Most often, the nickname Black Eyed Susan is referring to Rudbeckia fulgida. There are many different types of Rudbeckia, fulgida is a true perennial, ranging anywhere from 2 feet to almost 3 feet tall (under a meter).
If you look beyond the cheerful blooms you will see just how ratty the foliage looks at this time of year.
Still, ratty foliage or not, Rudbeckia fulgida is a highly valuable plant in the garden. First of all, it has a wonderfully long blooms season for a perennial. It begins blooming mid July or so around here and is still blooming strongly the first week of September.
Another thing I really like about Rudbeckia fulgida is that at this time of year it invites flocks of Goldfinch to the garden. They love to eat the seed heads so I don't remove those dead blooms.
You must keep in mind that if the birds are eating the seed heads, they are also scattering many of them about in the garden. Rudbeckia fulgida self sows itself all over the place. Not enough to be considered invasive but I'm sure I've given away or sold at least 500 plants in the last 7 years.
Another type of Rudbeckia that is fairly popular right now is the German hybrid Rudbeckia nitida 'Herbstsonne' (that means autumn sun). This type of Rudbeckia can grow as tall as 6 feet (two meters) and will flop about a bit if it's in an open, windy location.
It took me awhile to find the right place for 'Herbstsonne' but now I'm thrilled with it growing by the Miscanthus sinensis 'Strictus' (porcupine grass) and Eupatorium maculatum 'Gateway' (joe pye weed).
This summer I had a few Rudbeckia volunteers pop up in my herb garden. They aren't either of the above two types so I'm not sure of the variety.
There are also types of Rudbeckia that are annuals and I've grown them in containers in this garden so these might be seedlings from them. Then again, maybe the goldfinch dropped off the seed for me as a thank you for all the food I've provided them over the year.
What ever this variety is, I find it chamring with it's shorter, more blunt petals.
How many types of Rudbeckia do you grow in your garden?