Late summer and fall are the time when Brown-Eyed Susans, Black-Eyed Susans, and other members of the genus Rudbeckia come into their own. This year has given us a chance to consider how some of these species perform in a year of moderate drought and with no supplemental water provided.
Let me be up front with my own bias: Brown-Eyed Susan (R. triloba) is by far my favorite Susan. To my mind, nothing beats those masses of golden daisies with small, rounded rays (petals). It can grow up to 5 feet and get bare knees but if that bothers you it responds very well to being cut back for a more compact habit.
Anyhow, Brown-Eyed Susan stood up to our August-September drought pretty well. Flowering remained profuse and foliage looked normal. A few individual plants in exposed areas did go somewhat droopy or brown, but those were rare exceptions.
Ask Cutleaf Coneflower (R. laciniata) about our drought, and the response you’ll get is “Drought? What drought?” This big clumping Coneflower, which showed up in the garden on its own initiative (as far as I can remember), is not easily slowed down by a lack of rainfall.
In fact, it kept pumping out blooms long after the first flush of flowers were going to seed.
We have only three Rudbeckia species in the garden, and the last of these had the hardest time this year. It could be painful to watch the frequently droopy leaves of Black-Eyed Susan, or Orange Coneflower (R. fulgida). Sometimes the leaves or even the flowers got crispy. Black-Eyed Susan is probably the most common garden Rudbeckia, especially the popular cultivar ‘Goldsturm’. It’s relatively compact habit is, perhaps, one reason why this Susan is fairly ubiquitous.
Very happy to have all three of these Rudbeckias in the garden, even when they do struggle a bit. Also happy to say that we had a long, soaking rain last night. We may also get a couple days of rain later in the week. That should help with fall planting/transplanting in a week or two.