Highlight: Black-eyed Susan

Black-eyed Susan epitomizes prairie wildflowers.

Contributed photo

Is it coincidence that the Latin name of black-eyed Susan is Rudbeckia, or was Becky rude enough to give Susan her black eye?

The dark center is something that all varieties have in common and what distinguishes them from most of the related blanket flower varieties. The daisy flowers of black-eyed Susan are traditionally yellow. Modern varieties can be orange, reddish or bronzed.

Most black-eyed Susan are perennials that bloom through summer and as late as the first cool weather of autumn. A few are annuals that bloom in their first year only through summer.

They get about 3 feet tall, although some can get taller, and some stay quite compact. Flowers are about three inches wide. Some varieties have even larger flowers that fold backward like coneflower.

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Black-eyed Susan appreciates an open and sunny spot with somewhat rich soil and occasional watering. Deadheading keeps them tidy, and for some varieties, promotes subsequent bloom. It also inhibits self-sowing where that might be a problem.

Modern varieties should not become invasive even if allowed to self sow. Mature colonies can be divided for propagation every few years. -- Tony Tomeo

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