Black-eyed Susan or Orange Coneflower
(Asteraceae [also known as Compositae] - Daisy Family)
- small- to medium-sized herbaceous perennial
- species form matures at 3' tall by 3' wide, but cultivars are smaller
- upright clump growth habit
- full sun to partial shade
- performs best in full sun in moist, well-drained soils, but is very adaptable to dry soils, compacted soils, thin soils, drought, and soils of various pH
- propagated primarily by clump division in very early Spring, but also prolific in its self-sowing nature by seeds, forming wide-spreading crowns after three or more years of establishment and reseeding
- Daisy Family, with leaf spot being the only minor cosmetic disease of signficance
- abundantly available in container form
- prune dead stems back to the ground every late Winter to allow new growth to emerge unimpeded; however, if self-sowing is to be curtailed, the stems must be sheared back and discarded in mid-Autumn before the seed heads mature
- alternate, dark green, ovate, and sparsely dentate, with the lower leaves originating from the crown having petioles, but the upper leaves sessile on the flowering stems
- leaves emerge pubescent but become rough to the touch by Summer, but are not nearly as pubescent or hirsute as the species Rudbeckia hirta, the annual "Black-eyed Susan"
- basal foliage may be semi-evergreen in mild Winters, but is not ornamentally attractive and often unnoticed
- the yellow-orange ray flowers (petals) surround the black disk flowers (cone-shaped center), at the numerous terminals of the continuously branching stems
- each flower lasts about two weeks, with the overall bloom time for about three to four weeks anytime from late July to early September, depending on the intensity of the heat and drought of the season (drought encourages early bloom and senescence)
- the yellow-orange petals slowly fade to a withered yellow-brown, which slowly abscise to reveal the black spherical fruiting heads
- the seed heads are usually left on the plant for a subtle ornamental effect in Winter (but this promotes a copious amount of self-sowing in the immediate vicinity, and they can be dead-headed after bloom to prevent this potential liability)
- the wide-spreading clump on a mature plant emerges with basal foliage in early Spring, but does not send up flowering stalks until mid-Summer, when the showy flowers emerge from prominent terminal buds and bathe the perennial in a showy display of yellow-orange daisy-like flowers in August, slowly fading and yielding black fruiting heads that are persistent throughout Winter
- beds, borders, entranceways, raised planters, meadows, edges of fields, or any naturalized sunny areas
- bold texture
- thick density
- spectacular yellow-orange flowers with black "eyes" in mid-Summer
- subtle ornamental Winter effect of persistent black fruiting heads
- urban tolerant (especially to drought, thin soils, and neglect)
- naturalizes via self-sowing
- vigorous crown growth and a strong tendency to self-sow will severely encroach on surrounding perennials or small shrubs within two to three years from the initial planting, unless the triple maintenance of dead-heading, seedling rogueing, and crown division occur on a yearly basis
- zones 4 to 8
- native to the United States
- perennials of mid- to late-Summer flowering known for their dependable performance during hot weather (Heliopsis helianthoides, Hemerocallis, Lilium, Miscanthus, Perovskia, Phlox paniculata, Sedum 'Autumn Joy', etc.)
- perennials of yellow-orange or golden flowers (various species and cultivars of Coreopsis, Gaillardia, Heliopsis, Hemerocallis, Lilium, Rudbeckia, etc.)
- Rudbeckia fulgida speciosa 'Viette's Little Suzie' - a compact variety and cultivar that soon will become a standard among perennials (perhaps even replacing 'Goldsturm' in the nursery trade), to 15" tall and wide, with dark green, glossy, basal leaves with raised margins that form a "cup" along the center of the leaf blade, having the traditional very showy golden-yellow flowers with black centers, but on shorter stems
- Rudbeckia fulgida sullivantii 'Goldsturm' - while the species form is prevalent (along with other species of this genus) in meadows of central North America, this slightly more compact (to 2' tall and wide) and floriferous variety and cultivar is an extremely popular perennial in urban landscaping, having been selected in Germany (and translating as "Gold Storm"; sometimes incorrectly labeled as 'Goldstrum')
- Rudbeckia hirta - Black-eyed Susan, Oxeye Daisy, or Gloriosa Daisy -
somewhat similar to the above in overall appearance, but an annual (however, it reseeds itself readily and can be considered a functional perennial under many wild or
naturalizing conditions); to 3' tall by 2' wide, with scabrous leaves and larger flowers, having petals of golden-yellow edges and red, mahogany, brown, or orange hues toward the center, with a brown or black "eye" of central disk flowers
- Rudbeckia is named after Olof Rudbeck the Elder and his son Olof Rudbeck the Younger, Swedish botanists of the 17th/18th centuries.
- fulgida translates as "shining", perhaps in reference to the green and (relatively) glabrous foliage, or to the black seeds.
- Black-eyed Susan is a classic native meadow perennial that is excellent as a late Summer focal point when in yellow-orange bloom.
- Rudbeckia fulgida is a perennial primarily known through its extremely popular cultivar 'Goldsturm' that is noted for its magnificent mid-to late Summer yellow-orange-petaled, black-centered flowers that rise above the dark green basal foliage, commonly seen as a specimen in beds, in mass embankment or roadside plantings, or naturalized in neglected urban areas.
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