Rudbeckia – Old-Fashioned Favorite

Remember the good ol’ flowers of yesteryear – as kids we picked bouquets of daisies, black-eyed Susans, Queen Anne’s lace, buttercups … whatever we could find. Those black-eyed Susans were the only native ones in that bunch and their bold colors made them a real standout.

Rudbeckia hirta

Rudbeckia hirta

Black-eyed Susan is generally the plant classified as Rudbeckia hirta, but the common name is also applied to some of the other species in the genus that have the black/brown center: R. fulgida and R. triloba. Rudbeckia also shares the common name “coneflower” with several other genera.

They are one of the first yellow composite flowers to bloom in my area and often get lumped into a group of “yellow flowers” by people that can’t seem to tell a Rudbeckia from a Helianthus from a Silphium from a Coreopsis …. I’ll admit that trying to identify yellow warblers is equally confusing for me.

Rudbeckia fulgida

Rudbeckia fulgida

Rudbeckia is native throughout the US, from the mid-west to the north-east and to the south/mid-atlantic. Even California and the pacific north-west have species. Waxy coneflower (Rudbeckia glaucescens) is particularly beautiful. Various species are adaptable to both dry and moist conditions. Green-headed or cutleaf coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata) is particularly wet tolerant. Most are easy to grow from seed. And they are great for pollinators!

Rudbeckia laciniata

Rudbeckia laciniata


Rudbeckia species in general are considered perennial although R. hirta can behave as an annual or biennial. A fellow down the road from me lets them grow on a steep bank that he doesn’t mow. I look for them every year and just this week the first bloom opened up and I smiled when I drove by.

Rudbeckia maxima

Rudbeckia maxima



So if you need a dependable plant for a sunny area (wet or dry, pick your species appropriately), you can’t go wrong with a Rudbeckia. They were dependable flowers in pioneer gardens and in gardens ever since. They are still a good choice today. Look for them at native plant sales, as pass along plants from a friend or you might just find them in a nursery.

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  1. says

    Great cheerful article Ellen!

    My R. hirta are really taking off this year. I smile every time I see their bright faces even shining up throught the brush in some areas.

    You are so right that they are an easy one to grow. Perfect for first time native plant gardeners.
    Loret recently posted..TARFLOWER (Bejaria racemosa)

  2. Gail Farley says

    Super floral display. Show has lasted for weeks and no end in sight. Too bad pollinators aren’t that interested in flowers. I won’t deadhead; will keep for finches


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