Meet the Rudbeckia Family
Several people have asked me about the difference between the members of the Black-eyed Susan family, Rudbeckia. We offer 4 different Rudbeckia, and there is one for every purpose. Here is a quick blog post about which of those "yellow daisy things" is right for you.
Black-eyed Susans - Rudbeckia hirta
For many of you, this was the flower that grandma had in her garden. Back-eyed Susans are the gold (!) standard for a tough, colorful, drought-resistant, deer-resistant, low maintenance, easy to grow, versatile wildflower. They grow 2-3' tall and bloom from midsummer to fall.
Black-eyed Susans work great in a mixed bed with Common Yarrow, Harebell, and Northern Blazing Star. You can naturalize them into fields, along driveways, over drainfields, and even lawns, since they are unfazed by being mowed. They like the dry sandy loam found in much of the U.P., even in pine forest areas. Best in full sun to dappled shade.
These flowers don't fill in very densely and they are a biennial or short-lived perennial, which means they often die after flowering. Usually this is not a problem because they reseed themselves effectively. But if they don't like the site, they won't reseed and come back.
Black-eyed Susans are popular with pollinators and are the host plant for Checkerspot butterflies. Birds will occasionally eat the seeds, especially goldfinches. They are native to the U.P. and ours are from U.P. genotype seeds, so you know they will survive our weather and support our ecosystem.
Best for: mixed plantings, lawns, habitat restoration, and difficult soils
Showy Coneflower - Rudbeckia fulgida
Showy Coneflower, also known as Orange Coneflower, is like Black-eyed Susan's fancy big brother. Native to southern Michigan, Showy Coneflower is also easy to grow, but it is clump-forming and spreads slowly by rhizome, making it a better choice for the "drifts of color" approach to native plantings that is currently popular. It is simply showier - denser, with more presence and more blooms per square foot.
Showy Coneflower is also a perennial, and its ability to spread by rhizome means you don't have to worry about it reseeding in order to come back next year. It grows 2-3' in height, and flowers from mid-summer to frost. Showy Cone