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Rudbeckia (rude-BECK-ee-uh)

Common Name:  Black-eyed susan, coneflower

Light:  - Full sun to part sun

Soil:  Average to loamy, well-drained

Moisture:  Average to dry

Blooms:  Summer

Zones:  3 - 9


Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida

Rudbeckia 'Goldstrum'

Rudbeckia Description and Cultural Information

Rudbeckia is characterized by a central black cone surrounded by rays of drooping yellow petals. Although there are several different species, many are wildflowers and are not commonly found in gardens and quite a few are biennial plants, meaning they die after flowering and then return from seed.

Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida, black-eyed Susan. 18 - 36". This coneflower has hairy, oval leaves with orange-yellow flowers around a deep-brown center. R. fulgida var. sullivantii 'Goldsturm' is by far the most popular and much used variety in the genus. It has larger flowers and blooms for a very long time in summer, however black leaf spot is quite common making it necessary to spray with a fungicide a couple times a year to keep them looking best. These vigorous plants also produce many self-sown seedlings. Zones 3 - 9.

Rudbeckia laciniata, ragged coneflower. 2 1/2 - 3'. This tall coneflower has 3 - 5 lobed basal, lance-shaped foliage and rigid, wiry stems with branched clusters of yellow flowers. 'Goldquelle' has fully double, bright yellow flowers. Zones 3 - 9.

Rudbeckia maxima, elephant-ear coneflower. 5 - 6'. This coneflower is very unique in that it has very large oval, gray-green basal foliage with very tall stems of golden-yellow, drooping flowers with an upright center cone. Zones 4 - 9.

Rudbeckia occidentalis, Western coneflower. 3 - 5'. This California native has a basal clump of soft green, spear shaped foliage and yellow flowers with a tall central black cone. The varieties 'Black Beauty' and 'Green Wizard' lack the ray petals, so they only have a black cone, making them a bit odd and relatively unremarkable. Zones 3 - 9.

How to Grow:  Plant Rudbeckia in average to rich, moist but well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade. Plants are very tolerant of heat and humidity but do not like excessive drought. Divide 'Goldsturm' every couple years to control its spread. Rudbeckia will self-seed profusely, especially the wildflower type species.

Landscape uses:  Combine Rudbeckia with other summer blooming perennials. Use blue or purple companions to soften the bright yellow-orange flowers, such as Veronica, Russian sage (Perovskia), balloon flowers (Platycodon), and purple coneflower (Echinacea), or use reds and yellows with them to make a bold statement, such as yarrow, Gaillardia, Anthemis, and daylilies. Rudbeckia also looks good with ornamental grasses, sedums, and garden phlox.

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