Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wildflower Wednesday: Cutleaf coneflower

Welcome to Clay and Limestone on a hot, humid sunny August day! Our Wildflower Wednesday star, Rudbeckia laciniata, is blooming and the smallest bees are feasting on the nectar and pollen.
Cutleaf coneflower grows 3-9 ft. tall
Cutleaf coneflower is a native clump forming perennial with upright stems. The leaves are large, dark green and deeply lobed. Clusters of showy daisy-like flower heads top the plant from late July to fall in my garden (Central South/Middle Tennessee, Zone 6b/7a)

Each head consists of a yellow-green globe shaped cone surrounded by drooping yellow rays. It's a rhizomatous plant and thrives in partly shaded sites with moist or wet fertile soils.

 The statuesque Rudbeckia is a Clay and Limestone rough and tumble wildflower beauty that is tolerant of our hot and humid weather, but it needs an extra drink of water during our droughty summer months. 

 It's blossoms attract a variety of pollinators~bees, flies,

 beneficial wasps, butterflies,
Do you see the crab spider hiding on the back side of the cone?
skippers and moths.

 Caterpillars of Silvery Checkerspot Butterflies forage on the foliage and seeds are sometimes eaten by goldfinches.
tall stems make this a good plant for back of the border
The particulars
Rudbeckia laciniata
Common Name: Cutleaf coneflower, Green headed Coneflower, 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asteraceae
Native Range: North America (click on map to enlarge)
Zone: 3 to 9
Height: 3.00 to 9.00 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 3.00 feet (or more)
Bloom Time: July to September
Bloom Description: Yellow rays and green center disks
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium, not xeric
Maintenance: Medium, this plant spreads so you will need to edit/divide. Dead head plant for continued bloom
Flower: Golden yellow
Wildlife value: Butterflies, small and large bees.  Leave Seedheads standing for Chickadees. A good plant for Monarch butterflies especially if you are on their migration/flyway trail (click on map to enlarge)

Deer don't browse cutleaf coneflower
Prefers average, medium to moist soils in part to full sun. Tolerates hot, humid summers, but is not drought tolerant.
Propagation: Divisions from a friend, potted plants from native plant nurseries or seed. Seeds will need moist, cold stratification unless planted in the fall.

The Joes are a good companion plant for Cutleaf coneflower
 Companion plants: I love it with Phlox paniculata 'Jeana', Vernonia, Joe-Pye weed and taller Panicums. The leaves are a nice contrast to Baptisias and Thermopsis, just make sure there's good drainage for companion plants that don't like wet feet.

Comments: Spreads by rhizomes, so give it room to grow. Outstanding in mass plantings, as a back-of-the-border perennial, for streambanks and pond edges and in meadow, prairie, naturalistic and cutting gardens. It does best in full sun, but tolerates light shade.   

I have a deep appreciate for all the Rudbeckias and find the intense golden yellows not only attractive, but important additions to our garden. They bloom from late summer to frost; their saturated warm colors don't get washed out by our intense summer sun; they're easy to grow, they look fantastic with other late blooming rough and tumble wildflowers, they're excellent cut flowers and are important food and nectar source for wildlife.  Cutleaf coneflowers are a valuable late season nectar source for migrating monarchs.

So give them a try, you won't be disappointed.

Wildflower Wednesday is about sharing wildflowers all over this great big beautiful world. It doesn't matter if we sometimes show the same plants, how they grow and thrive in your garden is what matters most. I hope you join the celebration...It's always the fourth Wednesday of the month!

Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.


  1. to my foreign eyes Echinacea and Rudbeckia are hard to tell apart.

    Are they closely related?

    Today my WfW is China flower.

  2. I grow this plant and it is a joy to watch all the bees and butterflies attracted to it. I have some planted where we can sit and watch the show. However, my deer haven't read the books and don't know that they are not supposed to browse it.

  3. I believe that is one of the Rudbeckias I have in my garden. Come see, as I've featured an entire border for my WW post!

  4. I enjoyed your post, Gail! I don't remember if I've seen this offered here in Nebraska, but early on, when we were first digging up lawn, I found 'Herbstonne' at a local nursery that has very few native plants, maybe none at that time. I don't go there often anymore, but when I do, I see they are still selling these! I am putting a link to an interesting article I just found, which says it may be from another plant or a hybrid between the two. I'm glad that it does get insects on it! http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=f400

  5. I have trouble distinguishing between all the tall yellow beauties this time of year, but they're all gorgeous! Thanks for highlighting this one.

  6. I was just investigating buying some tall rudbeckias online. Maybe this one or R. pinnata?

    1. Want me to collect seeds or send you a division?

  7. I love all the Rudbeckias and so do the pollinators, as you've shown. I don't have this one in my garden, but it's wonderful. Thanks for hosting, Gail!

    1. https://plantpostings.blogspot.com/2016/08/wordless-wildflowers-at-lake.html

  8. I almost made the same wildflower choice this month as you did, Gail! Thanks for hosting this and getting me to look at more "weeds" as welcome flowers in my garden.

  9. Wow - I cannot believe how perfect your timing is. I have these growing in my garden and they were one of MANY "mystery" plants put in by the previous owners. They looked like Rudbeckias but the leaves didn't match the "regular" ones I had in the garden, so I assumed this was a totally different plant and no amount of googling could give me the answer. Mystery solved - thanks!

  10. Even though I don't consider myself a native plant gardener, or a wildflower gardener, I must have enough of the good stuff to attract plenty of pollinators, because it's like a carnival out there this time of year. They seem to especially enjoy the sunset hyssop, even though most of the bees must rob the nectar to get around the tubes. Whatever, it's fine by me, because there are so many flowers on it that there is plenty to go around!

  11. I was out of town for Wildflower Wednesday, so my post is very late, but I think you'll enjoy it. It's a real detective story!

  12. Loving your coneflowers ! Never had much luck with them due to lack of sun, but in resent years my yard has changed a lot so I should try these again.


"Insects are the little things that run the world." Dr. E O Wilson