Simply The Best Natives-Rudbeckia Hirta


“I know a plain old fashioned farmhouse down a pretty little lane Where yellow daisies make a pathway to the fields of golden grain. There a little girl is waiting where I found her years ago; Something Tells me that I’m welcome where the Black-eyed Susans grow.”

~Richard Whiting and Dave Radford



With autumn in full swing, I am looking back at a favorite native wildflower that grows throughout most of my garden all summer.  Rudbeckia hirta, also known as black-eyed-susan, brown-eyed susan, brown betty, gloriosa daisy, yellow daisy, and yellow ox-eye daisy, is part of the Aster Family (Asteraceae).

This North American species is native to Eastern and Central North America from Massachusetts to Wyoming, and south to Florida all the way over to New Mexico.  You can find it growing in pastures, plains, prairies, meadows and at the edge of woodlands.

The genus name, Rudbeckia, is named for Olaus Rudbeck, who was a professor of botany in Sweden and one of Linnaeus’s teachers. amanda

As I profile this wonderful native plant, I am linking in with Gail@Clay and Limestone for her Wildflower Wednesday meme, and Diana@Elephant’s Eye at False Bay and her Dozen for Diana monthly meme.  And I am joining forces once again this year with a local native plant nursery, Amanda’s Garden, to buy native plants for my garden.  The owner, Ellen Folts, specializes in woodland, prairie and wetland native perennials.  Check out her wonderful 2015 Catalog to see which natives Ellen is selling this year.




Growing Conditions

DSCN0546Here in my garden, Rudbeckia hirta is a short-lived perennial growing up to 3 feet tall and wide. The alternate leaves are covered by coarse hair, with branching stems.  This species flowers the second year if grown from seed, and the blooms can get as big as 4 inches with yellow ray-like petals and a brown or black, dome-shaped cone in the center.

It is a great plant for part shade or sun in moist or dry soils tolerating drought and spring flooding.  I have found that if the plant has shade, it will bloom longer.

Rudbeckia hirta propagates easily from seed sown in fall.  They can become aggressive if left to grow.  Cut the seed heads off to control the self-seeding.  Because the species plant is short-lived, it is best to let some of plants self-seed for future growth.




Benefits to Wildlife 

DSCN0529Of course the seeds are prized by many birds for food, so you may need to compete with them for seeds.  Especially the ravenous finches.

This flower also attracts butterflies when planted in large groupings, and is the larval host for the Gorgone Checkerspot and Bordered Patch butterfly.  

The nectar is sought after by bees and other insects that love nectar.




DSCN5826Rudbeckia hirta is used in gardens and parks in beds and containers.  There are numerous cultivars that have been developed and the list seems almost endless.

There are four varieties found throughout North America:

  • Rudbeckia hirta var. angustifolia – found in the southeast from South Carolina to Texas
  • Rudbeckia hirta var. floridana – found in Florida
  • Rudbeckia hirta var. hirta – found in the Eastern United States from Maine to Alabama.
  • Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherrima. found throughout most of North America from Newfoundland to British Columbia, south to Alabama and New Mexico.

Rudbeckias are great to cut and use in a vase as they can last over a week. 

This plant is said to have nutritional value and health benefits although parts of the plant are not edible.




Folklore and Tales 

Rudbeckia hirta is the state flower of Maryland and was designated as such in 1918.  You will see it DSCN5755prominently displayed especially at the Preakness Stakes horse race.

Native American tribes used the root to treat colds, flu and infections.  It also helped sores, snakebites, swelling and earaches.  It is said some tribes also used it as a diuretic.


Rudbeckia hirta  is said to symbolize Justice





Rudbeckia collage


Do you grow Rudbeckia?  Do you have a favorite Rudbeckia species or cultivar?




In A Vase On Monday 



Autumn is a wonderful time for roses to bloom again with the cooling weather.  I used this lovely Belleek vase to show off the dainty blooms of this red Knockout rose.




rose aster vase collage

Some asters still bloom in my mid October garden so they seemed a perfect addition to this vase.




fall crocus cup

And of course Colchicum or Autumn crocus is a great plant in a vase.  I know this because Cathy, showed hers off in her vase post.  I knew immediately that I wanted to float some in this special tea cup.




fall crocus collage

This is an unnamed Waterlily-type Colchicum.  And the tea cup is from my mother-in-law’s Homer Laughlin 1940s china named, Cosmos. I have previously used the sugar bowl and creamer as vases in the spring.  I have been looking for the perfect flower for a tea cup vase.  So thank you Cathy for giving me the idea.


I will be joining in late on Monday or Tuesday with a few memes this week as I prepare these vases:  Cathy@Rambling in the Garden for her wonderful meme, In a Vase on Monday, Today’s Flowers hosted by Denise@An English Girl Rambles and Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday.



Next up on the blog:  

Monday, I will be updating the veg garden as we put it to bed for late fall.

I will be linking in with Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Monday.



I am also joining in I Heart Macro with Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday.

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2015.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only. 


74 Replies to “Simply The Best Natives-Rudbeckia Hirta”

  1. I love all varieties of Rudbeckia – yellow is a central color of my biggest front garden and they carry along from mid summer till frost. Right now, the finches are attacking them for seeds! Lovely post, Donna!

  2. Love the colchicums in the teacup -sweetly perfect for them. I’m glad you still have flowers -frost has brutally laid my garden down.
    I, too, love my black-eyed susans, their cheerful faces start right after the daisies finish up. I have both R. hirta and fulgida and can’t imagine my gardens without them!

  3. Both vases are beautiful, Donna. I need to try some of the Knockout roses – they certainly seem to perform well under a range of conditions. I LOVE the autumn crocus in the teacup!

  4. The teacup really is ideal for the Colchicum and the roses and asters are gorgeous! I love the way you have done the photos in collages again this week. So pretty.

  5. Love your floating colchicums! I am about to sow Rudbeckia hirta ‘Rustic Dwarf Mix’, which comes in gorgeous shades of bronze and orange, it is a wonderful plant, and I am hoping to use it to fill some the otherwise weed-infested gaps in my front garden.

    PS Is there any plant not used to treat the common cold?!

    1. I think so many native plants here were used to treat so much including colds it seems. Can’t wait to see your rudbeckias in flower.

  6. I love your vase! And what a great idea to use a tea cup for the Crocuses! I’ll have to remember that for my spring Crocuses. Yes, I’m a big fan of all the Rudbeckias, and so are the birds! 🙂

  7. Hi Donna, Nice post! I love the first photo – it’s beautiful. We have a lot of annual rudbeckia in the gardens plus we grow ‘Goldsturm.’ My favorite annual rudbeckia is ‘Indian Summer.’ Hope your week is going well. 🙂

  8. Such a beautiful rudbeckia! I believe I had some of this at one point but she was overrun by plain ol’ Susan. I am ripping out Rudbeckia Laciniata from my garden – too big and bossy for my small space. She will live out her remaining days on our lake property by the pond there along with Cup Plant. Just one task of my redesign that I am certain will take a couple of years. I don’t even think I will replace the flowers as everything is so crowded!

    1. I hear you about ripping out stuff and not replacing it…I have happily planted the plants you sent in my meadow! Thank you again.

  9. Fascinating to hear about the different native rudbeckias, Donna – and what a sweet vase with the roses and asters. The colchicums in the tea cup, though, are just perfect – and you may be thanking me for the idea but it was friends bringing me some from their garden that triggered the idea for me, so let’s thank them again too!

  10. What a cheerful post Donna! I am blessed to still have rudbeckias still blooming in PA but none as interesting as yours. I float many flowers in teacups but never thought of fall colchicums. Thank you for the inspiration! Beautiful photographs throughout.

  11. I did not know that R. hirta was a host plant for two species of butterfly. Does that apply to other species in the genus? I do not grow R. hirta but I do have other Rudbeckias. I’m thinking of growing R. hirta next year as a container plant, especially as it takes some shade.

    1. I hope you do grow R. hirta Jason. In my research I have not found other rudbeckias as host plants for these butterflies.

  12. Rudbeckia grows wild on the hillside beside our drive. We named our first dog, an English setter, a field dog, ‘Black-eyed Susan,’ after the pretty wildflower of the field. ( She also had a large black patch over one eye.) I always think of her when I see it blooming.A friend recently showed me her recently purchased rudbeckia, a beautiful cultivar with amazing blooms that were much larger than my species. Unfortunately, she had thrown away the tag and did not know its name!

  13. Rudbeckia are such a happy fall flower. When we first moved to New England we had some planted in front of a kitchen window. I used to love watching the goldfinch sit on top of the flowers enjoying the seeds.

  14. Interesting to hear about the rudbeckias, I have always thought they needed full sun so didn’t grow them in my old garden. Here in my new garden I have a lot more sun and can pick and choose among prairie plants, rudbeckias included 🙂
    I loved your autumn crocuses, you have reminded me that I yet again have failed to get some for myself, I MUST get some next year!

  15. I always think of my Mom when I see Rudbeckia hirta. She always had them in her garden. I have had some Rudbeckia hirta in my garden off and on over the years. The back garden is a bit too shady for it to really thrive. I love them though.
    I had an autumn crocus, but it disappeared. Yours has reminded me just how pretty they are. I must buy some new ones.

  16. I grow loads of rudbeckia and just ordered some seeds to scatter this fall for plants next spring. They need no help at all in my climate. I absolutely love them! 🙂

  17. I’ve always loved Rudbeckias, and have seen them look fabulous in a cottage garden here. I’ve never tried to grow them although I love daisy flowers. They’re so cheerful. But they look best when they’re at home, in their own environment, as you’ve depicted them. The colchicum looks perfect in that lovely old cup.

    1. You are so right that rudbeckias look great in cottage gardens and in their natural environment of meadows and prairies.

  18. Black-eyed Susans are one of my favorites! I’ve had several plain yellow ones pop up here planted by birds, but my favorites to grow are ‘Irish Eyes’ and ‘Prairie Sun’. Love your colchicum in the teacup – so pretty!

  19. Your roses look so pretty with the asters, and the white vase is exquisite! The cosmos tea cup is beautiful, Donna, it’s so special to use china handed down, I have some of that too. I tried to grow an assortment of Rudbeckias, I did get some to grow the one year. I get discouraged when flowers do not return or self-sow, though, so that was the end of it. A lot of the east coast natives do not do very well here with our totally dry summers. I do grow Coreopsis, which thrives and returns, and am getting started on Gaillardias which are doing great so far. I lost all my asters but started a new one last year which bloomed this year, so hope to have asters in the fall again. I’m presently trying to plan what seeds I will buy and start for next year.

    1. Oh that is too bad Hannah but I think coreopsis is wonderful too…and I love gaillardia which is my next plant profile. Both great natives too!

  20. My small clump of Rudbeckia is slowly filling out it’s space. It was a bargain plant bought in a supermarket a few years back and did not expect it to survive. I am pleased. I also spent too much money on a couple of fancy cultivars this year – I kind of pray they come back too.
    I love the Colchicums in the tea cup – what a super idea. They make such a lovely display. And of course your beleek vase is equally beautiful Donna.

    1. I do hope your rudbeckia come back Angie…they are a strong plant and generally thrive so I will keep my fingers crossed.

  21. Thank you for sharing with Today’s Flowers, absolutely beautiful as ever and I was very interested in all the info, especially how the Native Americans treated certain complaints.

  22. Snap! Actually Donna Hirta is a good looking Rudbeckia, I am feeling kind of hooked on them at the moment, almost November and still in bloom

  23. lovely photos of your rudbeckias Donna, and interesting details as always with your native plant posts, I tried some perennial rudbeckias years ago they didn’t last long but now you say yours is a short lived perennial, may be those were too, last year I sowed a packet of seed of an annual rudbeckia, they did fairly well considering the wet, one has appeared this year, I think as you say it is flowering in the second year as there was no seedheads last year, by flowering in the second year it has done much better and the flowers are quite large, it is has not set seed, I have noticed that some plants do not set seed here and I think it is because it’s too cold, I have enjoyed the one I had this year and although it is not a native here I might buy some seeds and start some for next year. I am amazed at the range of the rudbeckias and the widely varying conditions they grow in, btw. your comment re the amount of blooms I have, especially the lilies, it is because it has been so cold, I can assure Donna you would not want October lilies if it meant a cold summer, there is no perfume either because it’s too cold, I hope the frost has not damaged any of your plants, Frances

  24. Love your collage of rudbekia-hearts, Donna!
    And the cup with Colchicum is amazing, I have some Colchicums in my garden too. I was said it’s a medicine from Colchicum and it is very expensive, did you know?

  25. I have this plant .. Yea! and I love it.. I will have to look up exactly what short-lived means…I guess it has to re-seed?… I will look it up and I did not know what butterfly larva liked it… Great info and wonderful photos…Michelle

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