One of my favorite flowers this year, I enjoyed rudbeckia from the spring through the fall.
We have grown rudbeckia since the farm's beginnings. A happy black-eyed-susan grew as part of a wildflower mix. Since then, I have grown many different varieties of rudbeckia and have appreciated their hardiness and the array of color they bring to bouquets.
This year, we have had patches of rudbeckia spring up as volunteers among the roses. In the early spring, I transplanted many rudbeckia sprouts that were growing in flower beds. They did well as transplants and were a welcome addition to the farm.
We also grew a variety of rudbeckia from plugs for the first time. I enjoyed growing Cherry Brandy. As the season progressed, the rudbeckia suffered from powdery mildew, in part due to the location where they were planted that got more shaded as the season shifted to fall. Aphids also enjoyed the rudbeckia. The rudbeckia planted in full sun among the roses and transplanted did not succumb to powdery mildew and aphids.
My experience this year shows the importance of location when planting your flowers. The healthier your plants are, the less likely they are to experience insect infestations and other blights. Location has so much to do with the health of your plants.
Care & Maintenance
Plant rudbeckia in full sun with well-draining soil. You can start seeds indoors, covering the seeds lightly with soil medium or direct sow seeds in your garden. Transplant seedlings after danger of frost. Additionally, you can grow rudbeckia as a "cool flower" and plant out seedlings in the fall, allowing them to overwinter.
Water seedlings regularly until they are established.
Rudbeckia are extremely cold-tolerant. They will grow in poor soil and, once established, are drought resistant. They grow well in hot environments, as well.
As mentioned, rudbeckia re-seed freely. Plant them in an area where you want them to reseed or make sure to harvest flowers before they go to seed.
To keep the plant producing flowers, harvest blooms as they begin to open at the base of the stem where it attaches to the plant. Make sure to harvest deeply to get long enough stems. The plant will continue to produce flowers, though the stems will get shorter as the daylight hours get shorter.
For drying flowers, harvest when the bloom is completely open and hang to dry.
Make sure to harvest into a clean bucket with clean water. Rudbeckia is considered a "dirty flower." It will contaminate the water and pollute it, causing other flowers to wilt faster. You can mitigate this by adding a small amount of bleach to your water and changing the water in your arrangement daily. Make sure the vase you use is clean, as well.
Other things to consider
Rudbeckia are deer-resistant, as well. If you are looking for a flower that will come back each year (from reseeding or as a perennial in warmer zones), is drought resistant, can withstand critters, and grow beautiful blooms, this is a great flower for you.
Check out varieties such as Sahara, Cherry Brandy, and Cherokee Sunset.
This post is part of a year-long series on flowers and plants that we love and grow on the farm. Check out other flowers that we love.