Little Goldstar Black-eyed SusanRudbeckia fulgida ‘Little Goldstar’ (PP# 22,397)
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A perfect small plant, the knee-high Little Goldstar Black-eyed Susan is as easy to grow as any plant can be. It’s a wonderful way to color-up your summer garden, and well into fall too. With 80 blooms per plant – double that of the well-known variety ‘Goldsturm’ – it will turn the smallest spot into a big splash of color. Forms a low mat of dark-green hairy leaves, that stay rich and green, without any yellowing, well into fall. The star-shaped flowers are brilliant yellow, with a large black cone-like center. Reliably hardy, unlike the ‘gloriosa daisy’ type, this fabulous little perennial will look perfect edging your beds, or along a path. Use it with other perennials, such as cone-flowers, catmint and Russian sage for a spectacular summer garden. Grow it on slopes among evergreens, in cottage gardens beside everything, and in natural settings as well. It is a garden form of a wild plant native to America, so it’s always right at home.
A place in the sun suits the Little Goldstar Black-eyed Susan perfectly, although it will take a little afternoon shade just fine. Plant in any well-drained soil, from sand to drier clays, and in alkaline soils too. Grows well in poor, sandy soils and urban gardens. Free of pests or diseases, and it isn’t eaten by deer, so just plant and it will do the rest. Once established it is very drought resistant and almost never needs watering. Completely winter-hardy even in zone 4.Cut out any flower stems that finish flowering, and cut the plant down completely in late fall.
Most gardeners know and love Black-eyed Susan, a plant that is widely grown, easy to grow and superb for summer color. There are many varieties that are ‘similar but different’ – the flowers may be the same, but the habit and size of the plant varies. Most are 2 or even 3 feet tall in flower, and sometimes you just need something smaller – perhaps you have a small town garden, or want a low edging along a path. Whatever the reason, when ‘size matters’, turn to the smallest star on the Black-eyed Susan stage, and plant the Little Goldstar Black-eyed Susan. Standing just a foot tall, but amazingly prolific in blooms, this plant will definitely be the opening act in your summer display – and the closing one too, because it never seems to stop blooming. Unlike some varieties whose leaves turn yellow just as blooming gets going, the foliage of this variety is always rich, healthy green. Just as tough as more well-known varieties, this is your go-to for easy-care with a shorter plant.
The Little Goldstar Black-eyed Susan is a hardy perennial plant that returns each year, with a durable root-system that won’t die over winter – as some other Black-eyed Susan plants do. In spring it forms a neat mound of leaves that within 3 years is a generous 18 inches across. The leaves are ovals, 3½ inches long and 2 inches wide, with long leaf-stalks. They are mid-green and a little hairy, with a slightly rough texture, keeping their green coloring throughout the summer, and never yellowing until late fall. Flowers form in pairs on short stems, and 80 stems is normal for a plant within no more than 3 years from planting – a galaxy of golden blooms. When flowering the plant stands just a foot tall, although after several years they may bloom a few inches taller. The first blooms open around mid-summer, or a little later in cold zones, and blooms continue unabated right into fall. Each bloom is about 2½ inches across, with a black, spiny central cone surrounded by slender golden-yellow petals, and blooming is profuse – about twice as many flowers form in the season, compared to older varieties.
The smaller size of this variety makes it perfect for edging beds, paths and drives. The relative width of the plants means you can still space them 18 inches apart and create a continuous ribbon in a couple of seasons. Grow it in larger drifts too, among perennials, on slopes and to brighten rocky places. Tuck a plant or two into a small bed without the risk of it overwhelming small neighbors. As a native plant, use it too in natural wildflower, meadow and prairie planting to vary the heights and bring variety.
The Little Goldstar Black-eyed Susan is reliably hardy in zone 4, and grows almost everywhere, all the way through zone 8.
Full sun always gives the best results with this plant, but it will take a couple of hours of shade each day without any serious consequences. It grows easily and vigorously in any well-drained soil, including poor soils, urban soils and alkaline ones. Water regularly while new plants become established, but after that this plant is very drought-resistant and very easy to grow, even if conditions are not ideal. Avoid wet ground and areas that flood in winter.
Deer don’t bother with the Little Goldstar Black-eyed Susan, and it generally stays free of any serious pests or diseases, so no worries there. It needs almost no work – just an annual cutting down in late fall. They can also be left until early spring, since you might like to leave the flowers for birds to eat the seeds from in winter.
You can find wild Black-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia fulgida, growing in almost all the eastern parts of North America, from southern Canada to the South. Also called orange coneflower, it grows in open areas, grasslands and on rough ground, and is an important part of our native ecology.
It is also popular as a garden plant in Europe, and it was there, in Schwarmstedt, northern Germany, where we find the origin of ‘Little Goldstar’. Georg Uebelhart is the owner and general manager of Jelitto Staudensamen, a German seed company and world-leader for perennial plant seed. A keen plantsman, Georg has inherited a long-standing love of perennials by German gardeners. In 2007 he was working to develop new Black-eyed Susan varieties, and took some seed from different crosses he had made. Among the seedlings was one that stood out for its prolific blooming combined with a vigorous but low habit. He named it ‘Little Goldstar’ and it was patented in 2011.
We love the prolific blooming of this little plant, and we know it will become a star in your garden. Take advantage of the possibilities that different kinds of Rudbeckia can bring, and grow this little beauty. Order now, though, because stars always keep rising – straight out the gates of our farm – and stock runs out fast.