Black-eyed Susan is a good perennial choice for butterflies and other pollinators, naturalizing, and rain gardens.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida is a low maintenance and resilient wildflower with shiny deep green foliage. Striking summer and autumn flowers are beloved for their golden orange rays and chocolate brown cones. Butterflies flock to the blooms and songbirds relish the seeds in sunny sites with average soil.
HABITAT & HARDINESS: Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida occurs in the eastern United States from New York to the Florida panhandle and west to Illinois and Mississippi.
Habitats are typically in moist woods, meadows, savannas and swamps.
Plants are hardy from USDA Zones 5-9.
PLANT DESCRIPTION: Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida is a dense branching perennial that expands from rhizomes for form small colonies.
Stems are sturdy and pubescent with narrow shiny deep green leaves. The blades are consistent in size unlike other species that have upper leaves reduced in size.
Flower heads are borne in profusion almost covering the foliage. Each daisy-like head averages 2” across with golden-yellow rays that encircle a robust dark brown cone loaded with disc florets.
Flowering is among the latest of the black-eyed Susans continuing for almost 3 months from late summer until autumn. Dense chocolate colored seed heads form and remain into early winter.
Plants grow 2-2.5’ tall with 1-2’ spread.
CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDS: The ideal site for Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida has full sun and average well drained soil. Plants adapt to clay, alkaline or acid pH, gravelly soils and tolerate part sun, heat and drought.
This species is strong, vigorous and pest resistant. In the hot humid south, however, plants may need good air circulation and occasional division to discourage foliar diseases.
Deadheading can extend the season of bloom but will remove the seed that are savored by songbirds.
LANDSCAPE USES: This is a good choice for a Wildlife Garden, Cut Flower Garden, Prairie or Meadow. Plants are also used as Butterfly Nectar Plants or as part of a Grouping or Mass Planting. Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida has Showy Blooms and is appropriate for Cottage Gardens, Water-wise Landscapes, Low Maintenance Plantings, Perennial Borders and Roadsides.
COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS: Try pairing Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida with Aster oblongifolius, Coreopsis major, Echinacea purpurea, Phlox paniculata ‘Jeana’, Liatris aspera, Schizachyrium scoparium and Andropogon gerardii.
Rudbeckia fulgida var. deamii would be a worthy substitute if needed.
TRIVIA: Native bees, small butterflies, skippers, pollinating flies and beetles seek nectar and pollen from the flowers. Caterpillars of several moths feed on the foliage and flowers. Mammalian herbivores occasionally browse the foliage and songbirds relish the nutlike seed.
Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida is gaining popularity in the nursery trade. Some claim that it is superior to the popular R. fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ because it is more vigorous and pest resistant and blooms later and for 6 weeks longer than ‘Goldsturm’.
Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida can be differentiated from similar species because it has narrower glossy leaves, smaller flowerheads than some and uniformly sized upper leaves.
Carl Linnaeus named the genus Rudbeckia is in honor of 17th century Swedish botanists Olof Rudbeck the elder and his son Olof Rudbeck the younger. The specific epithet fulgida is from the Latin word for “shiny” because of the glowing golden flower rays.
For more information on this plant, visit the USDA PLANTS Database: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=RUFUF