Friday, September 17, 2010

One Heckuva Rudbeckia

RudbeckiaTrilobaVignette2 (2)
Rudbeckia triloba
A few weeks ago, I posted about my ongoing love affair with Black-Eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta). Now, I still maintain that the common BES is a standout garden plant, being tough, vigorous and free-flowering. There is, however, a Rudbeckia I like even more...Rudbecia triloba, the Brown-Eyed Susan. Pictured above just as it started flowering about a month ago, it is reputed to be a short-lived perennial (sometimes biennial). The triloba part of it's name comes from the fact that the basal leaves have 3 lobes, however, the rest of the leaves look like regular Rudbeckia leaves. I remember first seeing them growing a few years ago in a neighbor's garden on Alberta St. in NE Portland. There was just something about their loose, open branching habit and intensely heavy flowering that really struck me. They get between 3-5 feet tall, depending on garden conditions (mine are almost 6' tall...probably thanks to the partial shade).

brushingthesky crazyrudbecia

Above you can see them a few days ago, they are now flowering heavily and are a veritable cloud of yellow blossoms covered in bees. This is the biggest difference between this Rudbeckia an the more commonly grown variety. While it's flowers are significantly smaller, they are borne is an amazing profusion...instead of dozens of blooms, you get HUNDREDS! This is one plant that I don't stake...I really enjoy how it opens up as it gets larger and sort of insinuates itself amongst neighboring plants. At this point in the season it's almost 6' across, if you count all the sprawling branches. I love the diffuse effect it's a lot of color, but in such small doses. The photo below, believe it or not, is only 1 SINGLE PLANT!


I'm hoping it does self-seed a bit, I'd really like to have more next year, especially if we plant the parking strips. I have a wonderful vision of tall grasses interplanted with these Rudbeckias, Joe Pye Weed, Ironweed, etc., a wonderful, no-holds-barred, prarie-esque planting.

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Although easy to grow, Rudbeckia Triloba is not so easy to find. After searching all last summer for some, I finally found a plant at the Fall HPSO sale (which is this weekend...YAY!) and snatched it up without hesitation! Of course, I always recommend you get plants locally whenever possible, for numerous reasons, but if you can't find it locally, I've seen it offered online at Annie's Annuals, which is one of the coolest nurseries out there...I can spend hours ogling the plant selections!


  1. Hi, Scott!
    Popped over to say hello and thank you for the kind compliment on my blog. (I'm pretty proud of that Columbine, too. :) I'm also a huge lover of Rudbeckia but I cheat a little bit on this one, since it grows wild out here. Love your photos and am looking forward to reading your posts. Have a great weekend.

  2. Scott this is just an amazing plant. Hard to believe that in one of those photos is just one plant. Your prairie plants just don't do so well here in Scotland because I have tried and tried to get rudbeckias to grow well here and they sulk in my conditions. Beautiful photos :)

  3. Hi Scott, we just added this Rudbeckia to our garden. Your post has me quite excited about the size and spread of it. I hope it seeds about, as my local nursery owner said it would, since it is short lived. That is quite a specimen you have! :-)

  4. I see you've discovered Rudbeckia triloba. Isn't it a lovely late summer bloom, filling in after a lot of perennials have faded? I too like the way it branches and spreads itself out.
    If it seeds as well for you as it does for me you'll have zillions of plants! I pull them out religiously in spring, move some around and discard the rest on the compost pile.
    I also make sure to deadhead the plants in the fall, and for the last few years I've broadcast those seeds over the bank. You should see the patch they've made...interspersed with Queen Anne's Lace and other wildflowers. The QEL has only seed heads now, but the R. triloba still looks pretty.
    I'll go right out and take a photo!
    Your photo of the sedum mixed with other flowers is truly beautiful. Your garden looks really lovely.
    And so does your renovated kitchen. What a fantastic job you've done!
    Thanks for visiting and saying hello :)

  5. I so agree with you Scott~it's a marvelous Rudbeckia! It pops up here and there in my garden and I scatter seeds often. Your photos are simply splendid! gail

  6. It's such a pretty plant, I can't believe all those flowers. I will be looking for these around here now, I hadn't seen them before. Right now my Black-eyed Susans are one of the best looking things in my yard.
    I wish some of your blue skies would make it up here, nothing but clouds and rain here.

  7. Wonderful post! I love the painterly quality of your first photo! Lovely!! What a plant... I have wanted to grow it for years but never get it together. Hard to believe that is just one plant. Stunning photographs! ;>)

  8. Your photos just glow, showing off this plant I've seen so many times, making me think i should find a home for it.
    You asked on my blog about Geraniums for reliable fall color. The best Geranium, hands down, is the native maculatum. It always turns a bright red. I think the Geranium I posted is a hybrid of G. maculatum and G. macrorhizum. If you would like a piece, contact me & I can divide it and send you some. It doesn't bloom all summer, but has mauvish blooms and good foliage.

  9. I've never grown this one before, I'll have to give it a try. :)

  10. Hi, Scott, I have been looking for something to replace the asters that I am removing this year. Maybe, this rudbeckia is the answer? It looks stunning in your garden. Pam

  11. Wow, that's a blooming machine. No wonder it is short-lived, it probably dies from exhaustion.

  12. I love it too. And yes, you will have a gazillion new plants next spring. I've taken to weeding it in some areas, moving tiny plants to others. It's a great filler and blooms forever.

  13. Agree on triloba Scott! It's a sought after treasure at my garden club's annual plant sale - always a quick sellout. Love that height and bloom at the end of the season...

  14. What a great plant, I think it may need too much water for me but I'm always looking for late flowering plants. I love the airyness of the flowers. Thanks for you kind comments on my blog. Christina

  15. I've been wanting this plant for several years. I've never seen it for sale here in the mid-atlantic. I finally resorted to seeds, and even those were hard to come by. Hope to have some flowers next year!

  16. Hi Scott: Why haven't I grown this bodacious plant before? And then I see, at Annie's Annuals, that they have a RED-flowered strain too? I wish-listed it. Please let's all do that: If there's anything we all need more of, it's a late-season daisy that isn't yellow. Thanks, Scott, for the head's-up.

  17. Gorgeous. I obviously have the wrong variety. Haven't seen any R. triloba locally; will try online!

  18. A little nursery near here has several large Rudbeckia triloba that I've been eying. I've hesitated because I'm not crazy about that egg yolk yellow but I have to admit some brightness at this time of year would be nice to extend the season. You may have inspired me to go get three tomorrow. (I hope you don't mind, but I traced down the source of your great watermark background and got one for myself.

  19. Loves it!

    I have one of those buried in the back, front garden... hiding behind my roses that are going off right now! Nice pics, too...

  20. OMG why don't I have this? What was I thinking?

  21. Lovely plant and great photos, Scott.

  22. Thanks EVERYONE for the comments! I'm hoping to save as many seeds as possible this fall (hoping for the best). I'm hoping to have enough seed to give to people who'd like some, I know how frustrating it can be to look all over and not be able to find any!
    Kate: Glad you stopped by, love your garden, gotta love those wildflowers!
    Leaves&Blooms: Thanks...I was pretty amazed at its size for sure!
    Fairegarden: I hope yours gets as big and's an amazing addition to a flower border!
    Kerri: Thanks for stopping by...I bet that border with the QAL and the BES is amazing...the glory of summer! BTW...I love how you've used fence posts in your charming!
    Gail: That's what I'm hoping for...lots and lots of volunteers!
    Catherine: Chin skies are just around the corner! I agree about BES...mine have been blooming for months, they are a wonder!
    Carol: I hope you can get some, they are great!
    Mr. Macgregor'sDaughter: Thanks for the kind words...and I wouldn't turn down a slip or 2 ;-)
    Racquel: You totally should, if you have room, it's fabulous!
    Pam: It certainly has a long enough bloom period, and doesn't suffer from mildew as much as asters sometimes do.
    Les: That's pretty much how it seems, the poor thing just doesn't save enough energy for another year.
    Tom: I'm hoping I'm as lucky, I guess we'll know for sure next spring ;-)
    Gardeningasylum: Totally, I felt so lucky to find it at the sale last year...especially since I really haven't seen it anywhere this year.
    Christina: I'm not sure about it's water needs, it seems pretty tough for the most part, only in the last few weeks before blooming did it seem to really want water, then again, it had so much mass to support, I could hardly blame it!
    Cherry Lane: Good luck...I hope you get a bumper crop!
    Louis Raymond: Totally, I've been keeping an eye out on Annies all summer, just hoping the red version becomes available...argh!
    Caroline: Totally...Annies Annuals had them last time I checked.
    Jolene: Thanks!
    James: Go for it, you won't be sorry, it's such a soft, diffuse yellow...also, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery ;-) Thanks for the heads-up about the Pokeweed relative tree...I looked at your post...that's CRAZEEE!
    Dirty Girl: Thanks for stopping by!
    Benjamin: You do have a head cold, other than that, what can I say...plant some now!!!
    Joey: Thanks for the compliment!

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  25. I've never been a huge fan of rudbeckia, but perhaps I judged too soon. This is a lovely plant--thanks for clueing me in.