This morning on a coffee tour of the garden, I decided I’ve been taking my Rudbeckia family of plants for granted.
Those fantastic yellow blooming daisies have been in bloom in my garden for over a month now. While I used to think of them as fall blooming plants, the new varieties are such long-season bloomers I know I’ll be using them more and more in my garden as they show no signs of stopping.I know I’ll be collecting seed from some of the clumps and looking for divisions from a few others next fall to increase these numbers. I’ll have to be careful or the garden could quickly turn into a yellow daisy garden. The question, of course, is what would be so bad about that?
- Sun: Full Sun
- Hardiness: USDA 4 for perennials
- Height: 18-inches to 72-inches
- Propagation: seed, division depending on whether true perennial or biennial.
- Note: Many of the commonly available plants are biennial (flowering on second-year plants)
Let me tell you about a few of my plants.
I have a few plants of ‘Becky Mix’ which is a seed generated plant you might want to try next year. It is a compact growing mix with flowers of gold, yellow, orange and bronzy-red.I’m missing the bronzy-red plant but the others are doing just fine, thank you very much. Only growing to 18-24 inches, this is an excellent plant and easy to grow.
I really like the ‘Toto’ series of Rudbeckia. These guys are showing off their dark-eyed lemon-yellow blooms like a starlet on a red carpet. Blooming like crazy, they’re a hit in my eyes as well.
Like the ‘Becky’ plants, these are shorter, more compact plants. Both of these plants are descended from our native R. hirta which means they are not overly hardy and may act like biennials or even annuals rather than true perennial flowers. I note this often means they die after they flower.
What To Do If You’re Growing Annuals Or Biennials
Be prepared to sow annual or biennial Rudbeckia every spring; I can tell you I’m ready to do this just because of the long bloom time and amount of blooms they produce. (note you can buy your seeds or collect them from the plants you have. See below for sowing advice)
I’ve had better luck with a plant called ‘Indian Summer’ and this one has bloomed quite happily for me for the last month with no signs of fading away yet.This is an AAS award-winning plant and even though it can be tender (another R. hirta breeding) it produces enough massive blooms that I’ll forgive it and plant it every year. We’re talking about a 3-foot tall plant that covers itself with 6-inch blooms in golden yellow and simply stays that way from mid-July onwards.
The biennials will usually seed themselves if they’re happy but taking the dried seeds and spreading them yourself around the garden will help.
How To Help Your Seeds Over The Winter
Hint: when you spread the seeds, do two things.
- The first is to mark them so you don’t weed them out.
- The second is to “scuff” them in or slightly cover them with soil to prevent the ants and mice from eating them
These two creatures take care of over 90% of seed in your garden)
I Really Like Perennial Plant Sales
I did obtain a R. triloba this spring from a plant sale (cost me 50 cents) and it is just starting to bloom right now. This eastern Canadian native reaches 3 foot tall (higher in a fertile garden) and is covered with small tiny brown-eyed centered yellow daisies. It could become a bit weedy so I’m going to watch it. This plant is quite hardy and while the stems have had a habit of breaking off in windstorms, it still has promise.
I think I’m going to experiment next year by cutting it down by half next June and see if I can make it shorter and bushier so it doesn’t suffer wind damage. This is similar to what we do to the old-fashioned Chrysanthemums and now that I know what I have (it was a “mystery” plant originally) I’m going to work at it.
But I’m Missing…
What I am missing is the standard R. fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ or Goldsturm Daisy. This marvelous plant blooms like crazy with gold-yellow blooms and is perfectly hardy and perennial in our area. I’ll be looking for a good one next year to be sure.
One plant I’ll likely pass on in this garden having grown it in other gardens is the massively tall Rudbeckia ‘Goldquelle’.This plant will hit 8-feet tall in a good year and be covered with golden yellow blooms. It is, however, a little aggressive for my current garden and I don’t really need something that competes with trees for height. If you do, I can recommend it.
These yellow charmers have been blooming away in the garden without thanks or notice and I’m only sorry it took that cup of coffee to make me write about them.
Update From Doug About Rudbeckia
This article was written a few years ago and in a previous garden. In my current garden, I have a Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ and will be collecting other plants mentioned here again over the next few years.