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The giving flower

Black-eyed Susans provide beauty and bird food

Black-eyed Susans are one of the most recognizable and loved perennial flowers. Their golden yellow flowers cover the plants from July to September or later. They are often chosen because the seeds are a favorite food for many birds from late summer into winter.

Little Goldstar Black-eyed Susan, shown above, is a newer variety that is quite beautiful. It is considered dwarf in habit, reaching only 12 to 16 inches tall. The flowers are still a large 2 inches across but the petals are just slightly thinner than its cousin Rudbeckia ‘Goldstrum.’ Even with its shorter size it still makes a good cut flower.

This traditional meadow or prairie plant is just at home in the urban landscape. It prefers well-drained soil and is drought-tolerant. It flowers best in full sun but is accepting of a partly sunny site. More good news: it is deer- and rabbit-resistant.

It can be planted singly or in small or large groupings. This summer bloomer looks great when planted with showy sedum, coneflowers, or ornamental grasses. This low-maintenance perennial will spread some but is not considered invasive. Deadheading is advisable to prolong blooming but not necessary. I prefer to leave my black-eyed Susans alone so seeds are produced for the birds.

Shelly Nold for the September 2016 issue

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