Friday, August 14, 2015

Flower Friday: Who doesn't love the brilliant beam of a black-eyed Susan?

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)

Black-eyed Susan is a bright, cheerful wildflower found throughout Florida. Its compound flower head consists of many long yellow ray flowers surrounding a core of dark purple to brown disk flowers. Each solitary flower head is born on a rough, erect stem that emerges from a basal rosette of bristly leaves. Leaves along the stem are alternately arranged, with toothed margins and rough surfaces. Seeds are tiny black achenes. Depending on the conditions, black-eyed Susan can perform as a short-lived perennial, biennial or annual.

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) in mixed wildflower garden.
Photo by Andrea England.
Black-eyed Susan typically blooms in spring through fall and occurs naturally in flatwoods, sandhills, open disturbed areas and along roadsides. It is pollinated by a variety of insects, and its seeds are eaten by seed-eating birds.

Family: Asteraceae (Aster or Composite family)
Native range: Nearly throughout Florida
Hardiness: Zones 7–10
Soil: Rich, well-drained soils
Exposure: Full sun to minimal shade
Growth habit: 1-3' tall with 1-2' spread
Propagation: Seed

Garden tips: Black-eyed Susans are easy to grow and maintain. They spread by way of abundant self-sown seed. They are adaptable to both dry and moist sites, but flower best with regular moisture. They are excellent for mixed wildflower gardens, and disturbed areas such as roadsides and medians.

Blackeyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta) and starrush whitetop
(Rhynchospora colorata) along Florida's turnpike.
Photo by Jeff Norcini.
: There are two forms of Rudbeckia hirta found naturally in Florida -- R. hirta var. angustifolia in the northern 1/3 of the state, and R. hirta var. floridana in the central and southern part of Florida.
Both forms are typically available from native nurseries  and they usually sell the form most common to their latitude, however, when purchasing R. hirta for your landscape, be sure to ask which variety is being sold. Non-native varieties are not recommended. (Source: Craig Huegel)

Black-eyed Susan seeds are available from the Florida Wildflower Cooperative.
Plants are often available at nurseries that specialize in native plants.Visit PlantRealFlorida.org to find a native nursery on your area.

To see where powderpuff occurs naturally, visit www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=2286.

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