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A Black-Eyed Susan

by Malachy - Horticulturist CountryLife Dungarvan | Aug 17, 2015

Commonly called black-eyed Susan, the plant is a great burst of vibrant yellow colour right now and it can make a very reliable addition to any garden.
At the moment gardeners are enjoying a rich vibrant display of colours as the late flowering summer plants come into their own. One plant which really caught my eye as I walked around the garden centre this week was rudbeckia. Commonly called black-eyed Susan, the plant is a great burst of vibrant yellow colour right now and it can make a very reliable addition to any garden.

Some gardeners will argue that the plant has become over exposed or over used lately as it appears in nearly every second public space that has been designed in recent years. In my eyes however this is a testament to how resilient and reliable the plant is. It requires very little maintenance and is normally not affected by pests and diseases.

At the moment in the CountryLife we have a number of great varieties to start your rudbeckia obsession with. One particularly good variety that is proving very popular with gardeners is Goldsturm. This variety grows to between two and three feet tall and is great for adding height to a flowerbed. The flowers are the typical daisy like flowers with a jet black centre to them.

If you do not have the space for the standard Goldsturm there is a great dwarf variety called Little Goldsturm which may work better for gardeners who are confined by space. This variety only grows to between 1.5 – 2 feet so it is considerably more compact than Goldsturm. But has just as much impact with its impressive floral display.

Rudbeckia Prairie Sun is a good variety for anyone looking for something a little bit differentRudbeckia Prairie Sun is a good variety for anyone looking for something a little bit different. This variety has the traditional orange coloured petals but as you migrate out to the edge the colour is almost bleached and it transitions into a primrose yellow colour. This variety can be a slightly trickier to grow and I have found it acts more like an annual, but if you can find the right position for it in a garden it does comeback for a number of years.

Recently I came across a very unusual rudbeckia, which I think will prove very popular in the next couple of years with gardeners - Rudbeckia Maxima. This variety is unlike all the others that are commonly found at the moment. The most striking feature is its blueish grey leaves and stems. Unlike other varieties the centre of this flower is cone shaped and almost becomes an extra feature of the flower as it is so prominent.

On average rudbeckia will flower from the start of August right through until October and can even keep up until the first frost of the year. To prolong the flowering remove faded flowers, this will allow the plant to focus its energy on flowering for longer. You can let the last flowers of the season remain on the plants to go to seed and feed the birds in mid-Autumn. While I have not seen any visiting the plants in my garden I am told that the seed is favoured by finches and other small birds.

Rudbeckia prefer a good free draining soil and an open sunny planting position. It is important to keep the plant watered regularly during the first year to ensure it establishes correctly. Every three to four years you should dig up the main clump of the plant and divide it to keep the plant vigorous and encourage better flowering. 

Written by Malachy

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Malachy's Bio 

I have been gardening since I was 5 years old when my mother gave me a part of our garden as my own. I have studied horticulture in the National Botanical Gardens in Glasnevin and was a winner in the young horticulturist of the year competition. I have worked in Several plant nurseries and garden centers such as Mount Congreve in Co. Waterford. My special interests are plant propagation and Cacti!