Low-maintenance Rudbeckia is good choice for novice gardeners

RudbeckiaCOLUMBIA, Mo.- Novice gardeners who like low-maintenance flowers may want to consider planting Rudbeckia this spring, said a University of Missouri horticulturalist.

Widely known as black-eyed Susan or coneflower, Rudbeckia produce an abundance of brightly colored flowers.

“They are easy to grow, adapt to a wide range of garden conditions, have few insect or disease problems and require only minimal care for a spectacular show of color summer through fall,” said David Trinklein.

There are 25 species of Rudbeckia, including perennials, biennials and annuals. All are native to North America.

“Goldstrum” is the most popular perennial Rudbeckia. “Cherokee Sunset” and “Indian Summer” are two annuals that have received the All-American Selection Award, he said.

Rudbeckia grow best in full sun in average, well-drained soil, but they will tolerate shade and dry conditions. The flower is recommended as being deer-resistant, but is occasionally attacked by other pests such as slugs and snails.

RudbeckiaRudbeckia can be purchased as bedding plants in the spring, started indoors from seed or directly seeded in the garden when temperatures reach 60 degrees.

Remove faded flowers by pinching off the blooms at the base of the flower stem to promote blooming and extend the flowering period, he said. To attract birds, leave old flowers on the plant so they can go to seed. Rudbeckia often self-seeds, resulting in new seedlings sprouting up around the garden.

Perennial Rudbeckia do not need to be divided regularly like many other perennials because the center of the plant does not die out. However, if you want to move crowded plants or produce extra plants for your garden, divide clumps in early spring, just as growth begins to develop.