Blooming Now--black eyed Susan


          Everywhere I drive these days I see bright bunches of black eyed Susan. These are wonderful perennial flowers to add late season color when most other perennials are done blooming and beginning to look a little bedraggled.
         The plant most commonly identified as black eyed Susan is Rudbeckia flugida 'Goldstrum', but there are multiple species and varieties in the Rudbeckia genus with flowers ranging from 2 to 10 feet tall. Some are perennials, hardy even into zone 3. Others are annuals, but these usually seed freely enough that once they are established you can count on them coming back year after year. The one  thing these plants all have in common is the dark brown, almost black, center that gives the flowers their common name.
          Rudbeckias are tough plants that tolerate a wide range of conditions and are fairly drought tolerant. They prefer full sun and well drained soil, but can take light shade, especially in areas like southeast Idaho where the sun is hot and intense.
         Black eyed Susans are versatile enough to work well in a wide variety of situations. A native plant, they are often planted in wildflower mixes, but work well in formal gardens as well. They are colorful enough to be planted in masses alone, but look especially stunning when paired with Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicfolia). The golden yellow of black eyed Susan is a complementary color to the blue-violet of the Russian sage, creating a dynamic color scheme in a landscape.

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