A family of robust hardy annuals, biennials and herbaceous perennials, available in a range of bright vivid colours. Ideal for mixed herbaceous borders, providing a solid block of colour from late summer into autumn. Loved by butterflies and other pollinating insects.
Family: Asteraceae (Daisy family)
Botanical Name: Rudbeckia
Common Names: Coneflower, golden vases, black-eyed Susan
Foliage: Deciduous, green or grey, simple ovate leaves on branched stems. Can be rough, bristly or smooth.
Flowers: Large daisy-like flowers with yellow, orange, red or purple broad-rayed petals, with a prominent dark central cone. Multi toned forms are also available, with single, semi-double or double flowers.
Flowering Period: Summer to early autumn.
Soil: Moisture retentive but well-drained, fertile soil (clay, sand or loam). Any pH.
Conditions: Best in full sun. Plant in a east, west or south facing aspect, in a sheltered possition.
Type: Annuals, biennials or rhizomatous herbaceous perennials.
Origin: Native to North America
Hardiness: Fully hardy in the UK.
Plant perennials in the autumn or early spring. Grow in a moisture retentive, well drained soil, in an open sunny site. Improve the soil with plenty of humus at planting time.
Tall forms are useful towards the back of the mixed border. Shorter types are ideal in the front of the border, in a rockery or even in patio containers.
Most varieties make excellent and long-lasting cut flowers.
Rudbeckias require very little care and attention, if growing conditions are good. They are fairly drought tolerant once established. Easy to grow, low maintenance and have good disease resistance.
Dead head regularly to prolong flowering period. Stake or support taller varieties in exposed or windy situations.
Lift and divide clumps in the autumn if they start to become congested.
No pruning required. Clear away dead foliage down to ground level in late autumn.
Can be affected by powdery mildew, rust and stem rot. Young growth can be attached by slugs, snails, leaf roller and aphids.
All forms can easily be grown from seed. Sow seed in a cold frame or greenhouse in March and planted out in late May, in a sunny situation.
Divide clumps of established perennials in spring or autumn.
Perennials are usually bright yellow or orange flowered, whereas annuals are available in a wider colour range, in shades of brown, red, orange or yellow.
Rudbeckia amplexicaulis (Clasping Coneflower) is a fast growing, drought tolerant perennial, producing masses of yellow cone-like daisy flowers all summer long. Available at Thompson & Morgan.
Rudbeckia fulgida has star-like flowers with dark centre. Height to 3ft (90cm), spread to 2ft (60cm). The popular cultivar 'Goldstrum' has striking, yellow-gold flowers with contrasting black cones in late summer. Available at Van Meuwen and Gardening Express. R. f 'Early Bird Gold' which flowers from June through to October has rich yellow blooms with contrasting dark brown centres. Height and spread to 2ft (60cm). Available at Van Meuwen and Thompson & Morgan. R. f 'Little Goldstar' is a compact form providing an abundant display of yellow daisy-like flowers from midsummer onwards. Height from 1ft - 2ft (30-60cm). Ideal for patio planters or for front of a mixed herbaceous border. Available at Gardening Express and You Garden.
Rudbeckia hirta (black-eyed susan) is a dwarf annual or biennial with large, bright yellow or orange, daisy-like flowers with hard dark centres. Needs dry, free-draining soil. Height to 2ft (60cm), spread 1.5ft (45cm). Cultivar R. h 'Goldilocks' is one of the best coneflowers, producing masses of double golden-yellow flowers from midsummer to early autumn. A perennial but normally grown as an annual in UK. Height to 2ft (60cm), spread 1ft (30cm). R. h 'Cherry Brandy' has vibrant red petals surrounding a dark purple stamen. Available at Van Meuwen and Gardening Express. R. h 'Marmalade' produces large flowers in shades of yellow, gold and bronze. Height to 2ft (60cm), spread 18in (45cm). Available at Van Meuwen. R. h Cherokee Sunset is an award-winning form that produces masses of double and semi-double flowers in a range of hot colours from bright yellow, through to orange, bronze and mahogany. Flowering all through the summer and into autumn. A trouble-free perennial that is best grown as annual bedding. Available at You Garden.
Rudbeckia laciniata (cutleaf coneflower) is a hardy perennial with upright branched stems and dense, green, hairy leaves. The large yellow flowers have raised, dark green cones. Height to 6ft (2m), spread to 3ft (90cm). Good cultivars include 'Golden Glow', a tall variety for the back of the border with double yellow flowers and greenish cones. Also 'Goldquelle' (double yellow) and 'Herbstsonne' (single yellow).
Rudbeckia occidentalis (western coneflower) produces large cone shaped flower heads with no petals, providing an unusual architectural display in the borders. They also make a superb, long lasting cut flowers. Cultivar 'Green Wizard' is once of the best forms. Available at Van Meuwen and Thompson & Morgan.