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The Other Susans

May 6, 2019

By: Barb Holtz

You're going to a family reunion. There's that one uncle, or is it a cousin, that seems a It's a gathering filled with folks you rarely ever see and aren't exactly sure how you're all related. Dread the event or embrace the adventure, you experience your larger family in all their glory.

Why not throw a garden reunion? Invite family members beyond the usual bunch. Sure Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) is a go-to guest for a place in your plot, but what about the other Susans? So often we stick to the comfortable and known. Well, widen the circle and meet the cousins!

Brown-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba) is a taller, sometimes bushier cousin to Black-eyed Susan. As the latin name suggests, lower leaves may be lobed. With hairy stems like its cousin, Brown-eyed Susan differs in height and has a smaller flower size. It's also a shade tolerant plant and works well in areas that receive at least four hours of sunlight a day.

Sweet Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia subtomentosa) comes by its name due to its pleasing scent. This Susan has decidedly larger flowers than her relatives mentioned above and smoother stems. This species can tolerate wetter soils and is found exclusively in our Rain Garden Mix and Rain Garden Seed Packet.

Whichever Susan you choose, all are versitile in growing requirements (dry to moist, sun to partial shade and a variety of soils). All are touted as deer resistant ( I always say that depends on your deer!). Black-eyed Susans and Brown-eyed Susans are guest that will bloom every to every other year, not long lived relatives. Sweet Black-eyed Susan is the relative that never leaves. For human relatives, problematic.In garden family circles, we call that a hearty perennial. That's a good thing.

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