Rudbeckia 'Sonora'

Rudbeckia Sonora

Black-eyed susan is a fall favorite for people looking beyond mums. While still cheery and summery, its yellows, browns and golds work well as we transition into harvest and Halloween decor themes. Rudbeckia resembles a mini-sunflower, and each plant comes with a generous number of blooms that stay with it for the season.

A favorite for us is ‘Sonora’, with big flowers measuring about six inches from tip-to-top. It flowers freely like all black-eyed susans, but this variety is short and compact. Large flowers always look dramatic on a small plant, and ‘Sonora’ kicks it up a notch with an extra big ring surrounding the distinctive black cone.

Another useful fact to keep in your back pocket: If your client likes birds, especially finches and chickadees, use the ripe seed heads as a feeding station in the fall and winter. That’s a feature any birder will appreciate!

RUD Sonora3

A slight reality check: Although the black-eyed susan is known as a popular perennial plant, the plants we are talking about are Hirta Rudbeckias, which are generally grown as a color crop. Hirtas are very pretty but their lifespan is short, as perennials go. They might as well be annuals and we grow them as such.

RUD Sonora2

Rudbeckias perform best in full sun and they handle dry conditions gracefully. They are the plants to choose when you suspect regular watering is not part of the garden plan.

RUD Goldiocks

We also grow two other Hirta Rudbeckias that are well-regarded:Goldilocks’ and ‘Toto Lemon’. ‘Goldilocks’ features double or semi-double blooms with big broad petals that create a fairly large, thick disc for a daisy-style flower. It’s almost mum-like. This variety grows a little shorter than ‘Sonora’.

RUD Toto Lemon

‘Toto Lemon’ is a pure butter-yellow version of the black-eyed susan, featuring a classic single bloom with broad petals. It’s noted for its strong blooming performance and dwarf habit—about 12 inches—making it an excellent choice for window boxes, border gardens or short centerpieces.