If there is one perennial that is most commonly associated with summer and early fall it has to be Rudbeckia. Also known as Black Eyed Susan, Rudbeckia are among the best perennials available for a fall garden.
In addition to their brilliant fall colour Rudbeckia seed heads have good winter interest. They make a terrific choice for mass planting, combining especially well with ornamental grasses. The flowers are attractive to butterflies and make a great centrepiece for any garden bed. They are excellent as a cut flower in bouquets too.
The most popular variety is ‘Goldsturm’. Goldsturm is a variety of one of our native North American wildflowers. The ‘Goldsturm’ variety was the Perennial Plant of the Year in 1999. However there is a new addition to the Rudbeckia family that is giving Goldsturm a run for its money. The new variety is called ‘Little Gold Star’. Little Gold Star is a more compact dwarf variety. It still has beautiful fall colour, but in a more compact form. If you have limited space consider the ‘Little Gold Star for your garden.
Plant Rudbeckia in full sun and well-draining soil as these perennials prefer at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. Once established, they are drought and heat tolerant. Removing faded flowers when the flower petals start to fall lengthens the blooming time. As well, Rudbeckia plants can be easily divided in early spring as they start to emerge from the ground.
Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’ (left) and ‘Little Goldstar’ (right)