It’s the middle of August and many varieties of perennials have finished blooming for the year. One species in our area, however, is still forming flowers. Rudbeckia hirta, commonly known as Black-Eyed Susan or Gloriosa daisy, is thriving in home landscapes. Let’s explore this landscape workhorse further.
The Black-Eyed Susan is one of four native Rudbeckias to Virginia, although many cultivars have been developed. It thrives in full sun (more than six hours of direct sun), tolerates heat and dry periods well, and does not require rich garden soil. In other words, this plant will thrive in more situations than it will not.
The Black-Eyed Susan is an upright, sturdy plant growing between two and four feet tall without any staking requirements. Although considered a short lived perennial, it spreads naturally by self-sowing seeds. The Blacked-Eyed Susan attracts bees, butterflies, and birds, making it an excellent addition for any gardener trying to attract pollinators and other wildlife. Blooming time is between June and late September, with 10 to 12 simultaneous bright yellow flowers being very common.
Plant three to five plants spaced 12 inches to provide interest in a specific area or plant in drifts for a more dramatic look. A drift is a long shaped planting of more than five plants where a repeating color or texture is achieved. Many experts suggest dividing the plant every three to five years. I transplant singular plants in order to enlarge my Rudbeckia group in the spring. My experience with transplanting them after stem and bloom development will require watering every day for two to three weeks.
Deadhead spent blooms to reduce self-sowing. Leaving the spent flower as is will provide seeds to birds such as goldfinches. The Black-Eyed Susan is moderately deer and rabbit resistant and can be susceptible to mildew. Allow the plant to have air circulation and avoid watering at night so leaves can dry quickly for mildew prevention. Read my column from June 23, 2016, concerning repelling deer.
Whether it is a border or a drift, a bee or a butterfly, sandy soil or clay soil, everyone is a winner when it comes to Rudbeckia hirta. Rah! Rah!
Attention gardeners: Fair season is soon upon us. If you think you grow terrific tomatoes or have spectacular sunflowers, prove it. The Chesterfield County Fair and the State Fair of Virginia both have open competitions to see just who the garden guru is. Information can be found at http://chesterfieldcountyfair.org/arts-and-crafts-information/ or http://statefairva.org/Competitions_Education/2016_General_Competition_Guides.aspx.