The many faces of the Black Eyed Susan

2014-08-12 16.53.46Black eyed Susans

A common name given to these prolific summer beauties.

Rudbeckia hirta {Black eyed Susan} can be found in many gardens as well as ditches, roadways, and naturalized areas across the U.S. This native beauty is a prolific self seeder in zones 3-7 and just about grows anywhere in full sun and does not mind the heat and drought of most summers.

A fun fact is that the name ‘hirta’ actually refers to the hairy leaves and stems of the plant.

Rudbeckia Hirta

Rudbeckia Hirta

Notice the hairy leaves and the shape of the leaves of Rudbeckia Hirta

Notice the hairy leaves and the shape of the leaves of Rudbeckia Hirta

This native beauty can be sown in the spring time (after the danger of frost has passed). If you already have the plant then after the blooms have faded and the yellow petals are gone, then carefully )because the seed heads can hurt) and scatter the seeds in the garden. The Black eyed Susan blooms anytime from June through September.

The Goldfinches. especially love them!

goldfinchThe Black eyed Susans that most of have in our gardens and are readily available in the summer at our local garden centers is Rudbeckia fulgida¬† var. sullivantii “Goldsturm”.

This is a very prolific seeder and will give you years of summer blooms. I have them in every bed in my garden. In the spring I divide off new plants from the clump and plant anywhere I find room. Even though this plant is zoned 3-9 and full sun, here in zone 7b I have it growing in partial sun and many are growing in mostly filtered shade under 50+ foot Oaks. They will grow anywhere and in any soil; however, they do not like wet feet.

Rudbeckia fulgida

Rudbeckia fulgida

Notice the pointed leaves and the darker color. A definite difference from the native variety

Notice the pointed leaves and the darker color. A definite difference from the native variety

One thing you will notice about Black eyed Susans {Rudbeckia Goldsturm or Hirta} is that sometimes the flowers are not consistent. The Missouri Botanical Garden states “plants do not come true from seed” and “must be vegetatively propagated”. In other words, these beauties are supposed to be divided from the original plant because the seeds may not reproduce the original plant. In any event you will have a strain of Rudbeckia that will produce yellow flowers which may vary in size and color. Nature does not care so…

In my world, I let nature be and let it go.

I do not deadhead because every year I have a pair of Goldfinches and many house finches that visit the huge clump at the mailbox to feed. Either in late winter or early spring when I am still raking leaves, I will cut down the old bloom stalks. In my garden here in zone 7b, this Black eyed Susan variety is semi evergreen so it makes for winter interest in some areas of the beds.

another Rudbeckia color

another Rudbeckia color

I want to add that this beauty is so drought tolerant and hardy that I have brought it back to “life” when I have bought them on the markdown rack wilted and pathetic. This is one perennial that every gardener should have in their gardens. This is a great flower to use for naturalizing an area where other flowers or plants fail to perform.

If you could not get one in your garden this summer, some garden centers may still have plants for you to put in the ground now. If you are not so lucky, then ask someone who grows them if they would mind you getting a few seed heads from their garden.

There are not too many perennials out there that can give you this much impact in a short amount of time with little work and care. Attracting the birds, bees, and butterflies is another added benefit to the garden and to your day.

Creating. Inspiring. Gardening without the rules!

Taken mid July 2014

Taken mid July 2014

Please be mindful of taking seed heads without asking permission. It is illegal in many states. It is also stealing to take seed heads, cuttings, and the like from garden centers too.

Creating. Inspiring. Gardening without the rules!

2014- 2016copyrighted material C Renee Fuller check me out over at The Garden Frog Boutique 

One thought on “The many faces of the Black Eyed Susan

  1. Pingback: Black Eyed Susans in the garden » The Garden Frog Boutique

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