Rudbeckia – coneflower

This group of hardy annuals, biennials and herbaceous perennials are grown in the border for their vivid flowers with prominent central cones. They are also excellent for cutting and comparatively easy to grow.

Suitable site and soil. A sunny, open site and most types of well-drained soil suit these plants. Put smaller ones in the front of the border and taller ones towards the back.

Cultivation and care. Perennials should be planted in autumn or early spring. Dead head frequently to encourage flowering. In windy positions, the taller plants will need support. Perennials should be cut down in late autumn.

Propagation. Grow annuals and perennials from seed and also divide perennials in spring or autumn.

Recommended varieties. R. hirta ‘Goldilocks’, a perennial usually grown as an annual, is one of the best coneflowers, with its stunning double, golden-yellow flowers 8cm – 3in across from midsummer to early autumn. The plant grows to 60cm – 2ft and spreads 30cm – lft. Another popular variety is R. h. ‘Rustic Dwarfs’ with flowers up to 15cm – 6in across. R.fulgida ‘Gold-strum’ grows to 75cm – 21 – 2ft and its striking, yellow-gold flowers, produced in late summer, are up to 13cm – 5in across with contrasting black cones. Taller is R. laciniata ‘Golden Glow’ which grows to 2.1m – 7ft high and spreads 90cm – 3ft, with double yellow ilowers and greenish cones.

Pests and diseases. Watch for signs of attack by slugs and snails; otherwise usually no problems.

GOLDEN VASES

Most types of rudbeckia make superb, long-lasting cut flowers. The long, strong stalks, bold, golden-yellow, large flowers and contrasting cones of R. fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ make it an outstanding cut flower.

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