Rudbeckia Tiger Eye By the Tail

I'm on the fence about bring Rudbeckia hirta “Tiger Eye Gold” onto my property.
I’m on the fence about bring Rudbeckia hirta “Tiger Eye Gold” onto my property.

Black-Eyed Susans have some some really cute cousins!

I discovered this while out and about today when I impulsively dropped by the Lowe’s garden center. There, I discovered Rudbeckia hirta “Tiger Eye Gold,” a neat looking little yellow flower with these lush little blooms that just beg to be touched—the flowers look (and feel) so soft!

As always, I have to do some research before anything goes into the yard, so here’s what I found:

  • Rudbeckia is the family that contains black-eyed susans and coneflowers (echinacea)
  • The name comes from a teaching father and son duo of botanists, the Rudbecks, who made an impact on a young Carl Linnaeus (he of the whole scientific naming classification convention dealie) in the 18th century.
  • Rudbeckias are wildflowers native to North America, and mostly perennial.
  • Rudbeckias are generally good to support caterpillars for a few lepidoptera species including two kinds of just meh-looking moths.
  • Wikipedia for more.

So most rudbeckias are perennials but this label clearly said “Upright Annual.” That was when I felt my first tinge of regret for this plant, since no matter how neat it may be one of my yarden rules is to avoid annuals unless it’s something we eat. I read on at Perennial Resource that:

  • This is a gold standard in annual Rudbeckias, producing semidouble orange-gold flowers for a very long season (with deadheading).
  • It’s an F1 hybrid, so not a “franken-flower,” BUT also not something that will come true from seeds.
  • It’s pretty darn hardy resisting deer, heat, and powdery mildew.
  • It’s water wise, which is not a surprise as it’s a wildflower; once established, they tend to pretty much take care of themselves.
  • It’s bred by Goldsmith Seeds, which is nearly a deal breaker as Goldsmith is a Syngenta flower and thus a Monsanto company.

I didn’t see anything new on this page at Garden Harvest Supply except for this one little bit down at the bottom:

  • Annual in Zones: 1-5
  • Perennial in Zones: 6-11

Well, we’re Zone 7 here; 8 in some parts of the yard (I hope)!

As a hybrid, though, this plant won’t come true from seed, if I let it go to seed and self-sow, which of course I would; I let nearly everything self-sow. It’s not a franken-flower, though—despite it’s corporate parentage—so I could actually plant other coneflowers and varieties of black-eyed susans and try to create my own heirloom as Joseph Tychonievich describes in his awesome book, Plant Breeding for the Home Gardener.

It’s inexpensive at $7 a 3-quart.

But prospects are not looking good for this delightful-looking little plant. The big hurdles are the corporate background and the fact that it won’t come true from seed, but that color, loooong bloom, and those lovely double-flowers really are quite tempting…

~Ben, TMSG

* For some brief, digestible bits on Heirlooms, Hybrids, and GMO plants, I found Mike McGrath’s article at Burpee a very helpful intro.


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