Pretty, Spunky & Tough: Rudbeckia Triloba

Multi-florets of Black-eyed Susan Rudbeckia Triloba, with morning glories.

August is hot. Dry. Parts of the garden look tired, even crispy and brown, if you haven’t dead headed your perennials. Good news is it’s the time when the black eyed Susans really get going: They’re the Mary Richards of garden plants. As Lou Grant would say, “They’ve got spunk.” Well, Lou may have hated spunk, but gardeners happen to like it. One spunky Susan, in particular looks cheerful and robust in the most difficult of situations: dry shade.

Rudbeckia triloba growing in schoolyard garden

Rudbeckia Triloba are happy in full sun as well as shade, as in this sunny schoolyard bed.

Many city gardens have the problem of dry shade—the surface roots of city trees, Norway maples, suck the water and nutrients out of the soil—leaving flowering perennials with a tough time putting on any kind of show, especially in the dry late summer. The multiple florets of Rudbeckia Triloba, however, just keep on blooming.

After a prolonged hot, dry spell if they start to wilt they quickly perk up as soon as they’ve had a watering. Rudbeckia Triloba also self seed freely—they often pop up in interesting places—yet are easy enough to pull out if you need to. If you have a challenging spot in your garden, give these tough little beauties a try. Your August will be forever be more cheerful. And spunky.

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