Photo by JLBG taken at Juniper Level Botanic Gdn, NC
Giant Black-Eyed Susan
Item #: 355
Zones: 4a to 9b
Height: 80" tall
Origin: United States
Pot Size: 3.5" pot (24 fl. oz/0.7 L)
Rudbeckia maxima is an overlooked drought-tolerant native that can be found from Arkansas to Texas, growing in seasonally moist roadside ditches alongside old tires, beer cans, and cigarette butts. The research into whether the abundance of motor oil in these sites is actually essential for plant growth has been inconclusive. This unique giant black-eyed Susan has a deciduous basal rosette of waxy blue foliage resembling a collard (that's sort of like a cabbage to you northern folks). In late spring through early summer, the flower stalks rise to over 7' tall. At the top of each stalk are 2-3" wide, brown-centered, yellow daisies...WOW! After flowering, we leave the seed stalks as a delicacy for goldfinches.
In the garden, it's a low maintenance perennial. We prefer to cut the old flower stalks back after the seed has dispersed, since they are free bird seed prior to that time. The old foliage will stay evergreen in mild winters, but if they die back or become tattered in winter, it's no problem to cut them to the ground.
Giant Black-eyed Susan can tolerate a wide range of garden conditions from very dry slopes to standing water. This wide range of moisture tolerances makes it a perfect rain garden plant. As far as light, it prefers full sun for 6+ hours. While it will grow with less light, the tall flower stalk simply won't remain upright, and in even lower light, the plant probably won't flower.
There are few plants that provide the floral height that comes with as little bulk. This makes it easy to combine with other taller perennials. The blue foliage adds a lovely color to the garden, even when they aren't in flower.
The flowers attract an array of butterflies and bees. As we mentioned above, the seed heads are both a great perch and food for songbirds.
Flower Color: Yellow/Gold
Container Role: Thrillers
Garden Themes: Cottage Garden Plants
Other: Bog Garden Plants , Butterfly Attracting Plants , Cut Flower Plants , Drought Tolerant Plants , Giant Plants , Pollinator Plants , Medicinal Plants , North American Native Plants , Plants that Attract Birds , Rain Garden Plants , Salt Tolerant Seaside Plants , Texas Native Plants , United States Native Plants