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Garden Article Jan. 18, 2020

A wonderful long blooming perennial that is a real workhorse that starts blooming in July and continues blooming thru early fall and is available in several different colors and shades is Rudbeckia also known as Blacked-eyed Susans.  The cheerful flowers consist of golden petals that radiate from a dark cone (thus the common name, even though the color is more of a dark brown). When in bloom,

black-eyed Su

sans stand two to three feet tall, with a spread of up to two feet.

It is difficult to say if the best feature of these plants is the abundance of their flowers or the fact that they bloom for such a long time. Pick a sunny location for planting black-eyed Susans, and for half of the growing season, you’re sure to have color there. The great part is the color starts as the heat of summer begins and this perennial adds a fresh look to the landscape.

Black-eyed Susans are often massed together in perennial borders and are effective at erosion control.  But they can be planted in clumps as a stand-alone plant and they are stunning

As mentioned plant in full sun and in soil of ave

rage fertility. Plants will spread more in a loose organic soil rather than in clay (which may or may not be desirable). These cheerful plants are drought tolerant once established but perform better if watered during dry spells.

Black-eyed Susans are easy to establish, naturalize well, and require little maintenance other than deadheading. Regular deadheading of the faded flowers will keep the plants in bloom longer.

Another wonderful feature about Rudbeckia is their resistances to deer and their attractiveness to butterflies.

Rudbeckia plants work equally well as a complement to blue and purple flowers, like Russian sage and Veronica.  It also makes a great cut flower and even the seed heads will hold up well and look attractive in arrangements.

Another good feature plant division is only necessary if the clump gets too large for its space or if you want to make more plants. Rudbeckia don’t generally die out in the center and don’t require frequent division.

Some varieties of Rudbeckia to look for this spring are “Goldstrum”, Cappuccino, Autumn Colors and Indian Summer.

“Goldstrum” is the standard for Rudbeckia. It is long-blooming and virtually pest free growing to two feet tall. Plus it was the Perennial Plant Association’s Plant of the Year in 1999.


“Cappuccino” with its huge orange-red flowers that reach 4″ across and are so numerous they blanket the foliage. Flowers just keep coming all season long from late spring to early fall. Tis variety is road salt tolerant, so it can be planted near driveways and roadways.



“Autumn Colors” is highly floriferous, and compact, growing 12 to 18” tall.  It is a short-lived perennial boasting large, golden flowers flushed with red, rust and bronze. The flowers can be up to 5 in. across making it one of the largest blooms among Rudbeckia.



“Indian Summer” produces long, golden-yellow petals surrounding chocolate-black centers followed by mahogany foliage in the fall. An All-American Selections Award Winner in 1995 it is also road salt tolerant.


Garden Tip: You can let the last flowers of the season remain on the plants to go to seed and feed the birds, but you will also get a good deal of self-seeding, which might not be a bad thing.

Dave Vargo is the owner of   Kiski Plaza Garden & Feed Center (724-845-8201) in Leechburg.  Products mentioned in the article are available at the garden center.  Any questions call or email dvargokiski@comcast.net.  Like us on Facebook @kiskigardencenter.