Friday, August 19, 2011

S is for Susan

If you enjoy taking pictures of garden flowers, plant Black-eyed Susans "Rudbeckia hirta (Asteraceae).  Susans will pose perfectly!    

They are native to the Eastern portion of the U.S. and almost indestructible.

Susans are typically an inexpensive flower to purchase.  Garden friends will often give starts to those who ask.

There are hybrids and some so old no one will ever remember where or how they arrived.

Susans are an upright stiff-stemmed perennial standing about 2-3 feet tall for the old fashioned variety.  New hybrids, such as "Vietee's Little Suzy", may be a short as 12 inches.   I just saw one that claimed to grow over 6 foot.
It's now endemic throughout North America.  They are perhaps the most popular and common all-American wildflower. 

The characteristic brown/black domed center is surrounded by bright yellow ray florets.  It does good in most soils, needs full sun and likes it dry.  It simply thrives on neglect.  OH YEAH!

Different hybrids start blooming in June - others through August. 

They are pest free and seldom have diseases other than powdery mildew if it's very wet or they don't get much air circulation. 

They brighten the late summer garden when other flowers are ending their bloom season. 

Although Susans are sometimes considered a short-lived perennial, they can be divided.  They self-seed or form a naturalized bed. 

Occasionally, they will pop up in another bed, but, they are never invasive in my garden.

When cut, they will have a vase life of 6 to 10 days.  Deadhead to promote more blooms.   
Most Rudbeckias are hardy to at least Zone 3. 

Rudbeckia "Goldsturm" was voted PPA Plant of the Year in 1999.

Susan's attract butterflies and bees.  Birds will eat the seeds in the winter (hence, finding new plants in other places!)

Plant some Susans and get out that camera.  If you listen very carefully you will hear them calling your name.  They will then sit up tall and show their sunny face.  Count to three and they may even smile. It's the way of Black-eyed Susans, they so aim to please.     

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