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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Rudbeckia fulgida - Black Eyed Susan

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?


Beth said...

Hi Melanie - I have the exact same you have pictured - the Rudbeckia fulgida. They are one of my all-time favorites and have been blooming for weeks. I don't think a perennial garden is complete without them!

Sherri said...

I love Rudbeckia! My friend has alot in her garden and keeps telling me she'll give me some but then she forgets. When we move I will have to remind her of her promise!!

Hoot Owl Hollow Nursery said...

I just wrote about them in my blog a few days ago. I grow a couple of others besides the ones you picture, 'Maxima' which is almost 8 feet tall some years, a double one called 'Goldilocks', and a double with an eye,the name of which escapes me at the moment.

patientgardener said...

I grow annual Rudbeckias - this year the mix is called Cappacinno - like the coffee and its a lovely mix of autumn colours.

Dave said...

Rudbeckia seems to be one of the best and most faithful August blooming plants around here. I planted several of the perennial kind from seed and they are doing great. It's nice to have something so reliably colorful in the garden.

Gail said...


I grow the course and hairy variety...Rudbeckia hirta and R triloba...they are a huge presence in the garden and I let them have their way! I am a benign dictator; although, you have given me some great planting ideas so it may mean with their heads! Thanks,

Bev said...

I grow Rudbeckia Goldsturm and love it as I love all *daisy type* flowers. I don't like the way some of the leaves will darken and wither but for the great color this time of year I can put up with it.

Fran Sorin said...

Thanks for a great post. It really gave me a moment to pause and reconsider rudbeckias. I had discarded them from my garden years ago because of their invasive quality and the fact that most suburban gardens where I live were using them excessively. With the varieties you've posted and wonderful photographs shown, I now see them in a 'softer' light and how they can be incorporated beautifully into the late summer/early fall garden without being intrusive. Fran

cindee said...

Your rudbecka are lovely. I didn't have any volunteers this year and I wonder if it was because I dead headed towards the end of summer. This year I did not so we will see what happens next spring(-: I love your gourd birdhouse. I have two I bought that I have not done anything with yet.

Connie said...

That last picture looks like it could be Rudbeckia Triloba? Also known as Brown Eyed Susan.
I have Goldstrum, Prairie Sun, and several annual types. I planted 'Rustic Colors' and 'Cherokee Sunset' this year from seed and they are fun colors...yellow with rusty accents.

Jendi said...

I'm not sure which kind I have. They are very similar to yours except slightly more orange in color.

I've had to be ruthless with them the past couple years. They have been spreading a little too aggressively.

The butterflies flock to them here. So it's especially beautiful to look at them.

Gail said...

My computer must be messing up again, I thought I posted! I grow two kinds of Rudbeckia...hirta and triloba! Both are free flowering here in my wilderness! While you were in Germany I posted on the Susans.

garden girl said...

Hi Melanie, I love rudbeckias too - they're such friendly flowers. I grow Goldsturm, and added Herbstsonne last fall. I'm so glad I did. I saw tiger swallowtail butterflies in my garden for the first time this year. They seem to love Herbstsonne.

Both Herbstsonne and Goldsturm bloom beautifully here with less than three hours of sun each day - about 1/2 in the morning and 1/2 in the afternoon. I love just about anything that blooms this well in mostly shade.

I pinched the Herbstsonne early in June. It didn't seem to slow down their bloom, and kept them from leaning or sprawling. They got only about 4 1/2' tall, partly because of pinching them, partly because they don't get much sun, and probably also partly because this is only their first full season in my garden, so they've still got some maturing to do.

Calogero said...

I like this Rudbekia. I hope it would grow in my Sicily.