Prairie Coneflower is a very versatile prairie native, thriving in a wide variety of soil types and moisture levels. Ratibida pinnata blooms from July to September, producing a wealth of deep yellow coneflowers with reflexed petals and prominent brown cones. The mature seeds are an excellent food source for finches, so leave the tall stalks standing into fall. This is a hard working perennial for the back of mixed borders or for massing in meadows.
Meadow Beauty, also known as Handsome Harry, is in the same family as tropical Tibouchina, but it is a hardy native of the Northeast. The bright rose-pink flowers bloom from July to September, held in clumps above the hairy interesting leaves. Rhexia performs best in moist and wet locations, which is where we first saw this on the High Line in NYC. Patrick Cullina first showed it to us.
Rohdea japonica or Sacred Lily has broad strap-like evergreen leaves which look exotic, especially when topped by red winter berries in clumps. The fruit lasts for up to 5 months. A hard-to-find, long-lived and tough perennial.
The yellow flowers of Black-Eyed Susan are later blooming than R. 'Goldsturm', extending the Black-Eyed Susan period up until frost. More wild and natural looking than the cultivars. Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida seeds vigorously, and makes a wonderful filler for natural areas. Birds depend on the seeds for winter food.
PRN Preferred: Looks more natural and blooms for a long time.
'Goldsturm' Black-Eyed Susan has yellow-gold flowers in June and July, making a wonderful display when planted in groups. It spreads to make a large mass eventually, so it can be used as a tall groundcover. Was found in a Czechoslovakia nursery in 1937. 1999 Perennial Plant of the Year. Seeds are an important winter bird food source.
'Little Goldstar' Black-Eyed Susan has a shorter sturdier habit than R. 'Goldsturm', which makes it much more useful for smaller spaces, as well as summer and fall mixed containers. Butterflies love the blooms and afterwards finches love the seed heads. Since it comes from tissue culture, it is very uniform in masses. A Jelitto Seed introduction.
PRN Preferred: We love the compact size and the plentiful flower display. Very cheery.
Rudbeckia maxima has huge powder blue leaves (hence the common name 'Dumbo Ears') topped by yellow cone flowers in June and July. The flower stalks rise to over 7' tall. Rudbeckia maxima prefers moist, fertile soils but will thrive in average garden conditions in full sun. It likes wet feet, yet is surprisingly drought tolerant. Foliage is striking and almost tropical looking, like a blue-green Canna. Seeds are an important winter bird food source.
Sweet Coneflower is a beautiful native Black Eyed Susan that tolerates heavy clay soils and blooms heavily from mid summer to early fall. The deep yellow daisy-like flowers have purple-brown cones which are a great food source for butterflies and insects. They smell sweetly of anise and make a great filler for the back of perennial beds or along the edges of woodlands. Rudbeckia subtomentosa can be used along stream beds and in rain gardens as well.
'Little Henry' Sweet Coneflower has the quilled yellow petals surrounding the brown cones of 'Henry Eiler', but the unusual flower display comes with a much shorter stature. The daisy-like flowers are produced in mid summer to early fall, and bright yellow petals are "quilled", or rolled up like tiny tubes. They cover the green anise smelling foliage and are held on strong, non-flopping stems. An introduction from Terra Nova Nurseries.