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

Monday, August 20, 2018

It's mid August and you know what that means in a mid south garden

 Golden yellow flowers are everywhere.

Yes, it's composite time! Most of the yellow daisy like flowers in my garden are blooming or beginning to bloom. They excel in the sun and brighten the shadier parts of my garden.
Rudbeckia laciniata
When you garden in the middle south you learn to plant and appreciate these rough and tumble golden yellow beauties. Especially in our hot and dry summers.

The yellow composites keep this garden floriferous when the Phloxes are beginning to look puny, the Joes have faded and the ex-asters haven't broken into song. 

Rudbeckia hirta cultivar
"Some gardeners are snooty about yellow. I used to be one of them." wrote Carol Klein in an article about growing Rudbeckias.

I didn't need to learn to appreciate yellow or the Rudbeckias,  I am crazy about the entire genus! They're my go to late summer flowers. They're reliable, easy to grow, low maintenance and with the many different species to choose from, you can have flowers from June to frost.
Rudbeckia fulgida are notorious for spreading both vegetatively and by seed
More importantly, they don't fade or melt in the intense sunlight. 

Let's talk about sun light for a bit. Our sun isn't brighter in the south, it just feels that way because the angle of the sun strikes the earth more directly here (and other southern cities) than cities in the north. The closer you get to the Equator the more directly the sun strikes the earth.  I think this affects how we experience colors and frankly, we need intense colors to deal with the sun light.
 Does that mean we get stuck with yellow composites! I don't feel that way! I love them all, even the rambunctious ones and R fulgida var sullivanti is a thug!

I don't hold that against her, it was entirely my fault she practically took over the front garden.  She could plow down the best of plants and she did.  Now there's a kind of detente among the Rudbeckias and the other take care of themselves colonizing wildflowers! Editing is the key...and some years I do better than others! This is not a bad year.
Rudbeckia subtomentosa 'Henry Eilers' is a special Susan! It's not very aggressive and needs protection from its cousin. If you're not crazy about some of the golden yellows, you might want to give this one a try. The yellow flowers  are the same golden yellow, but, their rolled/quilled petals dim down the brightness and make this beauty shine.

 The statuesque Rudbeckia laciniata is a Clay and Limestone rough and tumble wildflower beauty that is tolerant of our hot and humid weather, but, it definitely needs an extra drink of water during our dry summer months. 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). It's a favorite of the little bees.
RFvF might be my favorite of the Susans. The little bees love them, too.
Another Rudbeckia beauty is Rudbeckia fulgida var fulgida. Please don't confuse it with Miss Goldie. Trust me when I say that this Susan is choice, with smaller flowers on tall straight stems, shiny green foliage and a longer bloom time than Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm'.  It's never been planted in the front garden, but, I think I've found the best spot~where Ms. Goldy won't over run it.
Rudbeckia triloba. It's a bushy, free-flowering annual/biennial that self sows as aggressively as Miss Goldie! Plant it where it can naturalize and pull the seedlings that have planted themselves where you don't want them. The daisy-like, golden-yellow flowers bloom on purplish stems from late summer to early fall and this plant can take the dry weather, although, it is much happier when they have regular rainfall.

These are the Rudbeckias blooming in my garden now, I treasure them all. Please, don't be like some gardeners and poo-poo the golden yellow flowers of summer. Embrace them, welcome them into your garden and celebrate all that they offer, you'll be happier and so will the pollinators and birds.


“How wonderful yellow is. It stands for the sun." Vincent Van Gogh

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. How could anyone dislike these happy flowers. The just make me smile. Thanks to my friend, Ellen, I have lots of Rudbeckia fulgida var fulgida.

  2. Ah yes, every year when I see ole Henry popping open I tell myself to be sure to plant him next year. I am saying it again. I love this time of RUDYS.

  3. I love the Rudbeckias--all of them! They are so sunny and optimistic!

  4. This year the deer have left some of my Rudbeckias alone, so I actually have some blooms. I know Rudbeckia are supposed to be deer resistant, but the deer in my neighborhood are either illiterate or don't read the same books I read.

  5. The yellow flowers are taking over around here, also. My favorite is R. triloba, I love the masses of little blooms.


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