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?
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Reseeding plants is one of the things I am most looking forward to in my new garden. In one of my old ones I used to collect Aquilegia seed heads and put them in a shoe box and then go around in the fall scattering them all over the garden. Digitalis as well. The Aquilegia were especially prolific and the garden would be full of them in the spring.ReplyDelete
I agree...it's one of those things that really makes me feel like the plants are "happy"...the fact that they want to settle in and create more plants ;-) I dearly wish my Aquilegia would reseed...I've never seen a single seedling from any of my plants :-( I even scatter the seed around...but to no avail.Delete
I tried a mixed packet of Rudbeckia seeds 2 years ago and got some nice blooms, but none of them reseeded or even returned.:( But the double Aquilegias I grow have reseeded profusely, and look like a hobbit garden every spring. Forgetmenots and Lunaria also reseed well, and the tiny lawn violets. I do get the occasional odd Foxglove popping up every few years too. Not the mention the Tansy Ragwort I tolerate as host to the Cinnabar Moth caterpillars. I had an overabundance of exuberant caterpillars last year, they were running out of food plants.Delete
OMG...that's so funny, I can't figure out why my Aquilegias don't see at all...it's so strange, isn't it?Delete
I'm sure you won't have any troubles swapping the seedlings for something else! Very cool plant! I could see it looking gorgeous next to a maximilian sunflower - they could certainly do battle against each other, and it would be interesting to see which one won. :PReplyDelete
Hahahhaha...I hope so...although, to be honest, I don't have room for much more in my garden...so I may just be charitable and give them to whoever wants them! I agree with you on the sunflower...that's exactly what I need to put these next to, equally vigorous rivals ;-)Delete
It sounds like a wonderful plant... I wish I had such luck with Rudbekias or Echinacea which everyone else seems to have seeding everywhere and I can barely keep mine alive over winter! :(
I love big plants, although at the proportions you're describing, perhaps it's a little too large for my garden ;)
Seedlings... Hrm, I have Foxgloves that insist on coming up everywhere except where I want them to and have to regularly move them and plant them elsewhere and I also now have thousands of Allium seedlings in various spots... They all died last year after our spring drought and I expect the same to happen again as we're now officially in drought conditions again.
I have the same luck with some plants (like Heathers)...they grow so well in gardens down the street, but just HATE mine! I had similar lucks with Foxgloves in the past...I've been tempted to try again...but remember the frustration a little too clearly ;-)Delete
Those ARE nice Scott. (I read your earlier post with all the images too.) Rather like millions of little sunflowers, which is appealing to those of us who were born with a sunflower-propagation deficiency. (Don't ask --really I don't want to talk about it.)ReplyDelete
I bet I can find some Rudbeckia triloba seeds way before I find those papers I'm supposed to staple to the tax forms...
Uh-oh...sounds dire :-( Hahahahaha...I bet you can find some seeds...they seem to be as eager to grow as any plant I've seen ;-)Delete
Years ago when I first discovered Verbena bonariensis I loved it and decided not to deadhead the panicles. Free plants, right? Well, the following year and every year since I've had to deal with the seedlings. Part of the problem is I can't decide if I want tidy, well-structured borders or serendipitous ones. Well, serendipity is winning so I might as well concede. It is a bit frustrating when the baby plants invade the walkways though, isn't it?ReplyDelete
Hahahahahahahaha...so very true...they come up in the worst possible spots at times, don't they! Luckily, I'm serendipitous to the core of me...so I (usually) embrace it ;-)Delete
I had one of the 'green-eyed' Rudbeckias pop up in a sidewalk crack area, and it bloomed with a stemless flower in very late fall. I'll use the dandelion digger to move it. Will you favor us with some photos of the triloba in bloom ?ReplyDelete
Oh yes..I don't think it was very clear...if you click on the red "rudbeckia triloba" link at the beginning of the post, it should take you to my earlier post showing them in bloom...just in case, here it is again :-)Delete
I grow teasel (Dipsacus fullonum), which is biennial weed, so I have it only on alternate years. It seeds like crazy, so I don't try to get two generations going. I'm afraid it might take over it I had seed-setting flowers every year.ReplyDelete
Oh yes...I'm always tempted to grow those whenever I see them blooming in the ditches around town...just love them...but haven't been brave enough to try them in my garden yet!Delete
I'm such a slacker...I haven't yet dug anything for the swap. Must get on that soon...ReplyDelete
Well...you did have that trip that kept you away ;-) If it makes you feel better, I still have A LOT to dig up for the swap...and who knows if the cuttings will actually root in time.Delete
p.s. I did sprinkle plume poppy seeds around last fall when I cut them back, hoping for lots of babies to share. So far not a single one has appeared.ReplyDelete
OMG...you're so lucky...mine didn't even reach 3' tall...so no blooms last year...maybe this year (I moved it to a sunnier spot). With our weird spring weather, I'm not counting anything out quite yet...I must have sprinkled a million Poppy seeds around last fall...not a single seedling...which you know is bizarre...those things grow like weeds usually.Delete
Haven't seen these before so will be interesting to watch yours this year. I dislike dealing with biennials since you always have to have one ready to bloom and a baby the same year. :)ReplyDelete
Cher Sunray Gardens
I know! It's so very frustrating...especially since you have a huge area in the garden that is full one year, bare the next!Delete
I am in a similar situation to you Scott: on a corner lot. That does not leave much room for stock beds, so it is tough when it comes to biannuals. For instance, my Digitalis were spectacular last year, but will be next to nothing this year. I am hoping to embrace this by finding an annuals to fill is role this year while I get more growing on. Thanks for the into to this plant! JulieReplyDelete
So glad you share in my predicament! It's difficult when all your garden is within view...there's nowhere to hide the "tranitional" sort of things. Good point about the annuals...I've taken to growing annuals around newly-planted grasses and perennials until the fill in...no reason I couldn't so the same with biennials too :-)Delete
I just planted 12 or so of these Rudbekia trilobas in Great Dixter's Long borders. I have been spending lots of my time here dealing with, planting, and transplanting many biennials- verbascums, digitalis, lychnis, anthriscus, etc... It takes an extraordinary amount of time and effort to get the biennial show. If we all could have a nursery, large stock beds, space, staff and volunteers- we would be golden!Delete
Hahahahaha...that's the truth of it, Helen! I am so jealous of your stint at Great Dixter...that must be one of the most work-intensive borders in the world. I can' imagine how you all manage to keep it looking smashing for such a long period of time.Delete
That sounds like a dilemma...but perhaps you can find pleasure in "editing" them out, and that it is not all heartless! I hear you on plants that choke out others, even here...ReplyDelete
Indeed...it's sort of a "Happy" problem to have, for sure! Would always rather have plants that are TOO happy rather than not happy enough ;-)Delete
That is a really pretty flower!! I have that some type of thing happen with Foxgloves, they also get huge and seem to reseed right under or close to other plants. I mostly pull up the ones that are in bad spots or shake the seedheads in places I want them to grow. I also have a biennial Campanula that I fee like takes up a lot of space on it's first year and often come close to pulling it up. When you have a small garden that space is extra precious.ReplyDelete
That is EXACTLY the thing, isn't it! For those of us with small gardens, it's awfully hard to let something massive grow, knowing that the following year there will be a big hole where it once was...and the new ones end up right next to other, established plants. It's an endless game of musical plants, isn't it?Delete
I don't have any reseeders right now...but boy in Virginia... one big one was Hibiscus coccinea, Swamp hibiscus...easy to move but there were a lot of them.ReplyDelete
Hahahahaha..oh yes...I've heard of that one! The Rudbeckia is the same...easy to move when it's young.Delete
I love triloba too. The flowers just glow.ReplyDelete
I have a mostly love relationship with our annual Bidens, except in March when I'm taking down all of the old stems and questioning why I let so much of it into the garden. The answer is how it looks in Sept.
Hahahahahahahaha...yes...exactly...it's so hard to get rid of them when they are in their prime...but we do occasionally regret that later, don't we ;-)Delete
I never realized this plant was biennial. Such a shame, I wish it were a true perennial!ReplyDelete
Me too...it would be so wonderful to plant them knowing they would return...would make working with them so much easier...for sure.Delete
Hi Scott, I just discovered your nice blog. To answer your question, I don't have any reseeding plants, besides weeds of course, in my garden at all! Certainly something that I can improve on ;-). It must be fun, to discover wanted seedlings of a plant that you love so much. Good luck with transplanting your Rudbeckia triloba seedlings!ReplyDelete
Hahahahahaha...well, yes...unfortunately the weeds always seem to find their way in, don't they! It really is fun to find seedlings, isn't it...there's nothing quite a great a free plants!Delete
No such triloba trouble here...no seedlings to be found! I'll keep an eye on the paving though -- looks like the most likely spot.ReplyDelete
Hi Scott! Thanks a lot for this very useful post! I just love r. triloba (I have it like a kind of logo for my blog), but honestly I really didn't know it was biennial! Last year, the big big plant I had died for good at the end of the season and I was very upset because some moles dug around it and I thought that killed the plant... How naive I've been blaming myself for al this time!! :) Fortunately I found loads of seedlings to, I haven't moved them yet though because I wasn't sure if they are r. fulgida or my beloved one. I'm going to move some of them where they can have room to grow and reproduce constantly.ReplyDelete