Wednesday, March 28, 2012
The Trouble with Triloba
Rudbeckia triloba seedlings
A year or so ago, I waxed poetic on the wonderful plant, Rudbeckia triloba. They are a wonderful plant, quite spectacular and different from the more typical Rudbeckias (like 'Goldsturm'). Instead of a 2-3' plant with larger flowers, it becomes a towering plant of truly shrub-like proportions. I believe mine got about 3-4' wide and topped 6' tall by the time it was cut down by frost. In addition, it bears hundreds of smaller flowers...it has to be seen to believed.
Rudbeckia triloba can be difficult to tell from the seedlings of other Rudbeckias at first, however, if you look closely at the basal mound that forms in the first year, you'll be able to see that some of those leaves will indeed be divided into three lobes, hence "triloba".
It's one shortcoming, to be honest, is that it's a biennial, so it's just a seedling the fist year...blooms spectacularly the year after, then sets seed and promptly dies. If I had a large estate with tons of room, I'd happily let them seed with abandon, but in a tiny garden, it's harder to accomodate spontaneity on such a, shall we say, "grand" scale. Plants like Verbena bonariensis can pretty much grow wherever they want, they take up precious little horizontal space, and I've yet to see one smother other plants. Letting a Rudbeckia triloba grow within 2' feet of any other plant, however, is pretty much consigning that other plant to certain death.
Its favorite place to grow, to be honest, is in cracks of our sidewalk. Unfortunately, they are impossible to transplant out of these cracks...so I will have to decide whether to let them grow there (risking damage to the sidewalk) or pulling them out :-(
The few that did sprout in the garden are, of course, in the most inopportune spots possible, but are easily moved at this time of year, when they are still small. Luckily, they don't seem to suffer from much shock as long as you get enough soil around their roots. I have half a dozen or so potten up and will plant a few in my garden and give the rest away next month at a local plant swap. I'm hoping to eventually get the a rotating crop of them, so that I have at least one blooming every year...wish me luck! You know I must like them quite a bit to go through such hassle ;-)
Do you all struggle to incorporated biennials in your gardens...or even heavy re-seeders that you're constantly moving around?