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Grow Some Black-eyed Susans

The compact size and bright yellow flowers as well as its heat and humidity tolerance won Goldsturm Rudbeckia the title, “Perennial Plant of the Year” in 1999.

Include one of the taller varieties, like Golden Glow (Rudbeckia laciniata var. hortensis ‘Golden Glow’ hardy in Zones 3 to 9), at the back of the border. This statuesque beauty blooms in mid to late summer and tolerates heat and drought once established.  Surround it with sturdy neighbors to provide sometimes-needed support.

Change things up with large coneflower (Rudbeckia maxima hardy in zones 4 to 9).  Plant them where you can appreciate the huge blue-green paddle-shaped leaves and yellow flowers that top these 5 to 7 feet tall plants. Leave the seedheads in place for finches to enjoy.

Prairie or gray headed coneflower (Ratibida pinnata hardy in Zones 3-8) has been moved from the Rudbeckia group into Ratibida genus, but the downward pointing petals and gray cone are reminiscent of its former relatives. Crush the cone and you’ll get a whiff of anise.

A bit more information:  There are ways to manage leaf spot disease if you decide to keep your Goldsturm Rudbeckia. Fall cleanup will help reduce the source of disease in next year’s garden. Unfortunately, you also eliminate the seeds that help attract the birds. This usually isn’t enough to control the disease. Consider masking the damaged leaves with nearby plantings if you decide to keep the plants. And make fungicides your last resort. As always, read and follow label directions carefully.

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