Rudbeckias bloom in glorious golden colors

By Joyce Karsnak

OSU Extension master gardener volunteer

Brighten your yard with the golden colors of rudbeckias from early summer into fall.

These aren’t your run-of-the-mill black-eyed Susans that are out of bloom by now.

These rudbeckias, also known as the Gloriosa daisy, are bigger and tougher with a long bloom time and are easy to grow, yet underused in the home landscape.

These showy plants produce daisylike flowers from 3 to 7 inches across in shades of yellow, orange, bronze and bi-colors on a compact plant of 1.5-4 feet high and spreads 1-1.5 feet across, depending on the variety chosen.

Considered a biennial (a two-year life) or a short-lived perennial, a second-year plant will flower, beginning in mid-June right up until late summer. By then they are joined in bloom by first-year seedlings set out after the last frost date in spring or those that volunteered from fallen seed. A hard fall frost ends their cycle.

The plant tolerates clay soil well; a soggy location can cause rot. It can be grown in full or partial sun and while it likes moderately moist soil, it tolerates dry periods.

The flowers are attractive to pollinating insects, butterflies and birds, and is a favorite of the gold finch.

They will re-seed enough to keep a supply in your garden, but do not spread as profusely as the more commonly grown black-eyed Susan.

The seedlings transplant easily so they can be lifted and relocated in the garden.

The flower’s full name is rudbeckia hirta. Ever wonder how a plant is named? This flower’s genus is named after Olof Rudbeck, father-and-son Swedish botanists of the 17th and 18th centuries.

The species name of hirta means hairy, which describes the short bristles covering the stem and leaves, which deter deer, although my newly planted seedlings are not off limits to munching.

The species is native to the central U.S.

They are of the largest plant families, the Asteraceae, in which belong the aster, daisy, chrysanthemum, marigold, sunflower and zinnia.

Garden centers may carry a few of these flowers, but it’s economical to purchase the seed.

Varieties to look for in catalogs are a bicolor with exceptionally long lasting blooms called “Autumn Colors,” and “Indian Summer” with extra-large bright golden yellow flower heads and purplish-brown centers. Both are single petal and very sturdy with showy blooms.

Another variety to try is “Moroccan Sun,” which has semi to fully double petals of golden yellow to bronze. They are slow-growing seedlings, so it is best to start Rudbeckia hirta seeds indoors to have blooms by late summer into fall.

Once established in your garden, you’ll have continuous blooms summer into fall.

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