University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science
Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont
Black-eyed daisies (Rudbeckia)
also may be called Black-eyed Susans or coneflowers, but shouldn’t be confused
with another perennial coneflower (Echinacea). Other common names are gloriosa daisy and
rudbeckia. This native to the U.S. is popular
as a wildflower and in gardens for its colorful flowers in yellows, golds, and
oranges. It has been named flower of the
year for 2008 by the National Garden Bureau.
Rudbeckias are easy, low maintenance
flowers. They prefer full sun for best
blooming, but will tolerate light shade.
Other pluses are that they tolerate some drought once established, and are
deer resistant. They do need
well-drained soil of minimal fertility, as too much fertilizer can make plants
flop. These flowers are attractive to
bees and butterflies, the seeds to birds.
Rudbeckias are a diverse group of
flowers, including annuals to perennials, and from one foot to nine feet
high. The most popular perennial
selection, and one of the most popular perennials in general, is the cultivar
‘Goldsturm’ meaning “gold storm” (R. fulgida var. sullivantii). Its gold flowers in mid summer until fall are
on plants two to three feet high.
One of the oldest grown cultivars is
of the perennial cutleaf coneflower (R. laciniata) with its deeply
divided leaves. ‘Golden Glow’ has double
yellow flowers on plants to nine feet tall.
In some areas it may be known as the “outhouse plant” as it used to be
planted around these as a visual screen.
It can spread to six feet across, so give it plenty of room. Another
good cutleaf coneflower,
with large single yellow flowers, is ‘Herbstsonne’ meaning “Autumn Sun.”
A recent favorite of mine is the
three-lobed coneflower (R. triloba) with its dainty one to two inch wide
gold flowers on plants two to five feet tall.
Leaves are divided into three oval parts, giving rise to the species
name. This prairie plant self seeds, and
can be grown as an annual, biennial, or short-lived perennial. It fills in among other plants, or is good in
The most seen rudbeckias in gardens
are the gloriosa daisies (R. hirta).
These are grown as annuals in the
North, as biennials or perennials in the South.
In mild winters in the North plants may be perennial. Some are
short, only about a foot high,
including ‘Becky’, ‘Toto’, and the double
‘Maya.’ Three of my favorites are about three feet
high, and are All-America Selections winners (AAS).
‘Indian Summer’ was an AAS winner in
1995, having golden yellow flowers five inches or more across. ‘Cherokee Sunset’ was an AAS winner in 2002,
having semi-double to double flowers two to four inches across in various
shades of yellow, orange, and bronze.
‘Prairie Sun’ was an AAS winner in 2003, having flowers five inches
across. They are golden yellow with
lighter primrose yellow petal tips.
Similar to ‘Prairie Sun’, only with smaller yellow flowers green towards
the centers, are ‘Irish Eyes’ and ‘Green Eyes.’
The short gloriosa daisies are great
in fronts of beds and along walks. The
taller selections are showy in backs of beds.
Both work well in large container plantings. Try the perennial rudbeckias in meadow or
prairie-style gardens. They combine well
with ornamental grasses, and the blues of perennials such as Russian sage,
catmint, blue lobelia and fall asters.
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