Redbeckia Thrive In Hot Weather

By Cindi Sullivan

(LOUISVILLE, July 7th, 2004, 5:30 p.m.) -- Everyone who lives in Kentuckiana knows the heat and humidity can be stifling -- both for people and plants. If you're looking for a great addition to your garden that can tolerate the heat, WAVE 3 Garden Talk Expert Cindi Sullivan says think Rudbeckia.

Rudbeckia is the botanical name for the plant that some people call black-eyed Susan or brown eyed Susan. It's also known as the gloriosa daisy or orange coneflower.

Rudbeckias produce daisylike flowers with a fringe of narrow petals that surround the prominent center that gives them their common name.

When planting Rudbeckias in your garden, space them 1-½ to 2 feet apart to give them room to spread. This plant will tolerate heat and long dry spells, which make it a wonderful addition to any Kentuckiana garden.

'Goldstrum' is a very popular cultivar with bright yellow flowers and brown centers. This plant is very compact, growing to two feet tall and will bloom from mid-summer until frost.

Two newer varieties on the market are called "Indian Summer" and "Prairie Sun."

Indian Summer has flower heads and a growth habit that are double the size of Goldstrum, and Prairie Sun has a really pretty green center that softens the flower color. The only issue with these two Rudbeckias is that they are not considered reliably hardy as perennials here in Kentuckiana.

But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't have this plant in your garden. Treated as an annual, it will be spectacular in your garden. The bonus is that it just might come back for you next year. It's been known to happen.