Melinda's Low Maintenance Plant: Rudbeckia

Low Maintenance Plant: Rudbeckia

Melinda Myers offers advice for the care of this mid-summer, blooming favorite.

Plant Rudbeckia in groupings if you want to see butterflies, birds and bees in your landscape.

Fond memories and easy care may come to mind when you see the yellow daisy-like flowers of the Rudbeckias. There are more than 20 different annual, biennial and perennial species of this low maintenance flower.

The brown cone in the midst of the yellow petals inspired the name black-eyed Susan, commonly used for all Rudbeckias. Actually it is the accepted common name for our native Rudbeckia hirta.  This popular beauty blooms all summer, tolerates clay soil, drought and deer tend to leave it be.

Orange coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida) is native to southeastern United States. You’ll enjoy the same easy care as black-eyed Susan, but have the best results if you mulch the soil to keep it evenly moist throughout the growing season. This is a great choice for rain gardens.  The Goldsturm variety is more compact at 18-24 inches tall and a prolific bloomer. Viette’s Little Suzy is even smaller at 1 ½ feet tall and 1 foot wide. Perfect for small spaces and it seems to be resistant to leaf spot disease.

On the other extreme is Rudbeckia ‘Herbstonne’ growing 4 to 7 feet tall. The 3 to 4” daisy-like flowers have drooping yellow petals and a green center. This makes a great backdrop for flowerbeds and mixed borders.

All the Rudbeckias are great pollinator plants. You’ll find bees and butterflies visiting the flowers and birds munching on the seeds in the winter garden. Plus the deer tend to leave them alone.

Mix them with other native plants like asters, coneflowers and liatris or native grasses like switchgrass and prairie dropseed. They also combine well with non-native perennials like sedum, red hot poker, yarrow and fountain grass.

Add a few of these show-stopping perennials to your formal, informal or natural gardens. You’ll enjoy the long bloom, pollinators that visit and the seedlings that can be moved to other existing gardens or used to create a new pollinator paradise.


Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) at a Glance

Name: Rudbeckia, orange coneflower, sweet coneflower (Rudbeckia)

Size:  2 to 7 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide, depending on variety

Light: Full sun for best bloom but will tolerate light shade,

Water:  Water thoroughly whenever the top few inches of soil are crumbly and moist.

Fertilizer: Spread a 1” layer of compost over the soil surface every other year. Fertilize in spring with a low nitrogen slow release fertilizer if plants need a nutrient boost.

Soil: Well-drained, tolerates heavy soil with good drainage.


Written by, gardening expert, Melinda Myers.  Each month Melinda will feature a low maintenance plant perfect for beginning and experienced gardeners looking for attractive easy care plants.  Melinda Myers is a nationally recognized gardening expert with more than 30 years of horticulture experience.  She is a wealth of knowledge and we are pleased to share Melinda’s Low Maintenance Plant of the Month with you!