KUSA - Anybody complaining about a lack of color in their gardens now isn't growing black-eyed Susans.
These charming daisies always make a bright splash in mid summer through fall. Properly called Rudbeckia, black-eyed Susans may be annual, perennial or biennial. Add their golden glow to your garden.
The annual species is Rudbeckia hirta, the typical Susan found across the country from the Front Range to the Eastern Seaboard. Popular selections of this include golden yellow 'Tiger Eyes,' burgundy red 'Cherry Brandy' and lemon yellow 'Summer Sun.' The latter has a green eye rather than a dark one. They grow from a foot to three feet tall.
These annual types may be grown in the ground or in pots. They need a sunny position but do not appreciate dry conditions. They sometimes live over the winter. They often seed themselves. Keep them blooming as long as possible, however, by deadheading spent blossoms and using a bloom booster fertilizer.
Rudbeckia laciniata is a tough, hardy perennial that can easily grow to six feet or more, so it's definitely suitable for the back of a sunny border. It has bright gold flowers in midsummer and will bloom well into fall if kept deadheaded. There are double-flowered forms available but my favorite is the single 'Herbstonne,' which means summer sun in German. The plant is nearly carefree, attracts bees and is drought tolerant once established. My plants are over two decades old and going strong.
The least known of the black-eyed Susans is Rudbeckia triloba. The plant grows three to four feet tall and has three-lobed leaves. It produces myriad small flowers with black centers and short yellow petals. It is sometimes called bumblebee daisy. This species is a biennial, meaning that it has a two year life cycle. It produces leaves the first year and flowers in the second.
Bumblebee daisy grows in sun or partial shade with absolutely no fuss. Shake the dried seed heads in late fall where you'd like more plants. If you'd like to try this flower, seed for Rudbeckia triloba is available from Botanical Interests. It can be sown this fall, just as nature does it.
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