Black-eyed Susans highlight the season

9NEWS Garden Expert Rob Proctor and his apprentices talk daisies and lettuce.

KUSA - It's the season of the daisies. Our gardens are graced with many of them in late summer and fall.

The daisy family is the largest in the plant kingdom. There are more daisy-like flowers than any others. The common characteristic is a central disc or eye surrounded by multiple petals. The center eye may be obscured by double forms of flowers with many dozens of petals, such as mums or marigolds. Popular daisy family members in bloom now include asters, sunflowers, calendula, zinnias, dahlias, mums, marigolds and cosmos.

One of the prettiest of the late season daisies is the black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta). This prairie native produces big golden flowers with a dark brown "eye." Selected varieties may be gold, yellow, burgundy red or gold with brown markings. The variety 'Prairie Sun' has bright yellow petals surrounding a green eye. The new variety 'Chim Chiree' features a dark eye but its pale gold petals are rolled into thin, chimney-like tubes.

Black-eyed Susans may be grown in the ground or in pots. Select a sunny location. After planting, keep the plants well-watered, fed with a blossom-booster fertilizer and deadheaded regularly. With good treatment they will persist well into fall. Cover with sheets or frost cloths if temperatures drop below freezing at night.

Pansies, lettuce and spinach can also be planted now. All three are frost tolerant. You can harvest the leaves of spinach and lettuce into late fall. A frost cover at night will help extend the harvest as cold weather arrives.

Copyright 2016 KUSA


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