Considered by many gardeners as the most complete border flower, the Rudbeckia certainly ticks all the boxes. It is one of the most spectacular blooms in the late summer border, coming to its peak just as others are starting to fade. The flowers are produced en masse and are very long lasting, putting on a fantastic display well into autumn.
Rudbeckia 'Autumn Forest' is an upright compact plant that grows to a height of 45 to 60cm (20 to 24in) and around 36cm (15in) wide. Blooming from June to September, it produces spectacular, single and semi-double, large daisy-like blooms with a vibrant mix of oranges with deep brown and red markings. The blooms reach 12 to 17cm (5 to 7in) in diameter.
The compact plants and can be used as eye-catching bedding or in containers, and make useful border fillers, too. They are reliable and grow quickly, so perfect for filling unexpected gaps in the garden display or for covering the ground in a new garden.
Rudbeckia are easily propagated by seed and generally considered to be hardy and disease-free plants. The plants are very easy to grow and trouble free. Very adaptable, they perform well in most soil types and under a wide range of climatic conditions, so an ideal choice for the beginner gardener.
The flowers are attractive to pollinating insects, especially bees and butterflies and in winter, the seed heads are attractive to birds especially finches and add interest to the winter garden.
Sowing: Sow in late winter to late spring.
Rudbeckia hirta is a short-lived perennial or biennial and is often grown as a half-hardy annual. The seeds are best sown indoors in warmth before transplanting outdoors.
Seeds can be sown directly where they are to flower, two weeks before the last expected frosts in your area (usually around May), but to give them a head start, sow indoors from mid February to June, about six to eight weeks before planting outdoors.
The seeds need light to germinate, so just press them into the soil surface or use a little vermiculite - don't bury them.
Sowing Indoors: Late February to early April
Seeds are best sown indoors in pots or trays containing good seed compost. Cover the seed lightly with vermiculite or sieved compost and place in a propagator or warm place maintaining an optimum temperature of 18 to 20°C (65 to 70°F) Keep the compost moist but not wet at all times. Germination mostly occurs between 10 to15 days but will take longer if temperatures are lower.
Thin to 7.5cm (3in) pots when seedlings have developed two proper leaves and are large enough to handle. Remember to handle the seedling by the leaves only, supporting the weight of the seedling under the roots as you transplant.
Grow on and harden off by gradually acclimating to outdoor conditions for 10 to 15 days before planting out into their permanent positions when temperatures start to rise.
Plants transplant well and should be spaced 30 to 45cm (12 to 15in) apart
Sowing Direct: Late April to early June
Sow thinly, 3mm (1/8in) deep in drills 30cm (12in) apart in well-cultivated soil which has been raked to a fine tilth. The plants prefer a position in full sun, with organically rich, evenly moist but well-drained soil.
Water the ground regularly, especially in dry periods. When large enough to handle, thin out seedlings so that they are finally 30 to 45cm (12 to 15in) apart . They require long days and full sun for best flowering.
The trick with Rudbeckia is to make sure it goes in soil which does not bake dry or the whole plant will collapse. A semi-shady position will help if the soil does tend to dry out in summer, as will a thick mulch, applied after a night of heavy rain.
To extend flowering and prevent self-sowing, deadhead the spent flowers, this also makes for a tidier-looking plant. However, there are advantages if the old flowers are left alone, the cones have ornamental appeal after the petals have dropped, birds enjoy the seeds in the winter; and you will enjoy the benefits of seedlings next spring.
Rudbeckia hirta is a short-lived perennial or biennial and is often grown as a half-hardy annual, sown indoors in warmth before transplanting outdoors. Theses varieties may survive from year to year if left in the garden, especially if wet winter conditions are avoided, but flowering may be reduced in subsequent years. It self-sows easily and cuttings can be taken in late summer and rooted in the cold frame.
Rudbeckia has no serious pests or diseases and is known to be resistant to deer, heat, and drought, it also tolerates salt well.
Cottage/Informal Garden, Flower Arranging, Pots and Containers, Flowers Borders and Beds. Prairie planting. Drought tolerant. Wildlife Gardens.
These excellent herbaceous mostly perennial plants (some annual or biennial) are originally from the USA. They include around 20 species, with four varieties of Rudbeckia hirta:
- Rudbeckia hirta var. angustifolia. Southeastern United States (South Carolina to Texas).
- Rudbeckia hirta var. floridana. Florida, endemic.
- Rudbeckia hirta var. hirta. Northeastern United States (Maine to Alabama).
- Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherrima. Widespread in most of North America (Newfoundland to British Columbia, south to Alabama and New Mexico; naturalised Washington to California).
The name was given by Carolus Linnaeus in honour of his teacher at Uppsala University in Sweden, Professor Olof Rudbeck the Younger (1660-1740), (aka Olaus Rudbeckius), and his father, Professor Olof Rudbeck the Elder (1630-1702), both of whom were botanists. It is pronounced rud-BEK-ee-a.
The species name hirta comes from the Latin hirsutus meaning ‘covered in hair’ and refers to the trichomes (hairs) occurring on leaves and stems.
Rudbeckia hirta varieties are tender perennials and are most often grown as an annual. There are also other varieties of Rudbeckia which are hardy perennials.
Rudbeckia is one of at least four genera within the flowering plant family Asteraceae whose members are commonly known as coneflowers; the others are Echinacea, Dracopis and Ratibida.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 1 gram Average Seed Count 2,200 Seeds Seed Form Natural Seeds per gram 2,000 seeds per gram Family Asteraceae Genus Rudbeckia Species hirta Cultivar Autumn Forest Common Name Black-Eyed Susan. Coneflower Hardiness Half Hardy Annual Hardy Short-lived perennial or biennial that is often grown as a Half Hardy Annual. Flowers A vibrant mix of oranges with deep brown and red markings. Natural Flower Time June to September Height 45 to 60cm (20 to 24in) Spacing 36cm (15in) Position Full Sun to Partial Shade Soil Well-drained/light, Clay/heavy, Moist Germination 10 to 15 days