Black-eyed Susan

1 Mar

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), 3 t0 4 ft., short-lived perennial, yellow, orange or russet daisy like flowers in summer, full sun, good cut flower.

The showy garden rudbeckias that brighten summer and fall borders are descended from wild plants native mainly to the eastern U.S. All are tough and easy to grow. Blossoms have yellow or orange rays and a raised central cone. They make good cut flowers; cutting also encourages rebloom late in season. Divide perennials when they become crowded, usually every few years.

There are about 25 species of Rudbeckia, all native to North America. Orange coneflower (R. fulgida var. sullivantii) is another popular garden perennial. Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is closely related. The genus was named for the Swedish physician/botanist, Olaus Rudbeck (1660-1740), who preceded Carolus Linnaeus, the inventor of the binomial system of biological nomenclature, at the University of Upsala.

There are three regional varieties of Rudbeckia hirta, the wild black-eyed Susan, with one occurring naturally throughout much of North America from British Columbia to Newfoundland and south to Texas and Florida. The species is absent only from the Southwest. Black-eyes Susans grow in prairies, dry fields, open woods, along road shoulders and in disturbed areas.

Rudbeckia fulgida
Initially to 3 ft. tall, 2 ft.wide; after a few years, spreads by rhizomes to form a larger clump. Branching stems; broadly lance-shaped, 5-in.-long, hairy dark green leaves. Yellow, 2–2 1/2-in.-wide flowers with black to brown central cone bloom in summer.

Rudbeckia hirta
Biennial or short-lived perennial; often grown as an annual because it often blooms the first summer from seed sown in early spring. Grown as a winter annual in Zones 12, 13. To 3–4 ft. tall, 1 1/2 ft. wide, with upright, branching habit. Stems and lanceshaped leaves to 4 in. long are rough and hairy. Daisylike, 2–4-in.- wide flowers have orange-yellow rays and a prominent purplish black cone.

Rudbeckia fulgida sullivantii 'Goldsturm'

‘Goldsturm’
Bear 3-in., blackeyed yellow flowers on 2–2 1/2-ft. stems. Some nurseries offer the taller,more variable seed-grown Goldsturm strain.

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