On Gardening: Prairie Sun steals the show

Fourteen years ago, one of the most beautiful gloriosa daisies, prairie sun, was chosen as an All-America Selections Award Winner.


This award followed on the heels of Indian summer, another outstanding selection, and it might night have garnered all the love and attention it deserved. Thanks to progressive greenhouse growers and a new generation of landscape color professionals, this outstanding Rudbeckia hirta is dazzling in both commercial and homeowner landscapes.

Rudbeckia hirta commonly called black-eyed Susans or gloriosa daisies are treated as short-lived perennials or annuals in many gardens. The flower power they generate is worth every penny regardless of how you use them.

Prairie sun is cold hardy in zones 3–8, but as an annual, everyone can enjoy their sizzling color — orange petals that give way to primrose tips. The large disk or eye is green in prairie sun, generating even more glances from passing visitors.

Like Indian summer, prairie sun will top out at 2 1/2 to 3 feet with a 2-foot spread. The flowers are huge reaching 5 inches across.

This summer, one of the most dazzling partnerships used prairie sun and Wasabi coleus. I particularly loved how the Wasabi echoed the color of the green prairie sun eye.

You can never underestimate the complementary color of blue when it comes to Prairie Sun. All shades of blue from the lightest to the darkest shades provide a marriage made in garden heaven. So consider pairing with petunias, salvias or Scaevola.

I’ll come right out and admit it — I am a gloriosa daisy or Rudbeckia hirta freak. They are the quintessential cottage garden plant but remain the perfect choice for today’s modern landscapes whether it’s a home, commercial or park setting.

Rudbeckias perform best in full sun with fertile well-drained soil. Tight, compact clay or soggy soil yields less than satisfactory results. So if you find yourself in this situation, incorporate 3 to 4 inches of organic matter like compost, peat or humus before planting.

Set your transplant in the soil at the same depth it is growing in the container. Finish the task by applying a layer of your favorite mulch.

With gloriosa daisies like prairie sun, Indian summer or the shorter Corona, your garden will receive attention from visitors while attracting bees and butterflies followed by birds for the seeds.

I would say that is hard to beat.