Goldsturm rudbeckia is a tough perennial for Louisiana gardens

Richard Bogren, Gill, Daniel J., Owings, Allen D.  |  1/4/2011 1:15:01 AM

News Release Distributed 04/29/10

By LSU AgCenter Horticulturists
Dan Gill and Allen Owings

It would be hard to imagine a more diverse group of plants than the perennials we use in our gardens. Some of these plants that come back year after year tower as tall as small trees while others carpet the ground. Many produce attractive, colorful flowers, and others show off unique foliage. Some grow in hot, dry sun; some thrive in cool, moist shade; and others even populate aquatic gardens. A gardener could spend a lifetime acquiring and growing perennials and still not plant them all. Indeed, the efforts of researchers and adventurous gardeners constantly discover new perennials that will thrive in our area.

Goldsturm rudbeckia is an outstanding perennial that was recognized by the Perennial Plant Association as the 1999 Perennial Plant of the Year. It was chosen as a Louisiana Select plant in 2000 by the Louisiana Nursery and Landscape Association and the LSU AgCenter.

Prolific flowering, low maintenance and proven perennial reliability are characteristics of Goldsturm rudbeckia. It is a great plant to consider for long-term performance in Louisiana landscapes.

The sustainable landscape relies on tough, resilient plants like this that don’t require a lot of effort, fertilizer and water to grow.

As has happened more than once, this plant had its origins as a native U.S. wildflower that found its way to Europe and returned to us transformed into a garden flower. In 1937, Heinrich Hagemann found a planting of a rudbeckia variety at Gebrueder Schuetz’s nursery in the Czech Republic. It had an especially attractive growth habit and produced an amazing number of flowers. Recognizing the superiority of this plant over other commonly grown rudbeckias, Hagemann convinced his employer, Karl Foerster of Potsdam, Germany, to propagate his discovery. It was eventually released in 1949 under the variety name Goldsturm – which translates into English as gold storm – and has been popular ever since.

Related to our native black-eyed Susan, Goldsturm blooms in Louisiana from May to August and is a low-maintenance, long-lived perennial for full to part sun. It grows well in a wide variety of soil types and is somewhat drought tolerant. But it will perform its best in a well-prepared bed and watered occasionally during dry periods. It is well-adapted to the heat and humidity of the Louisiana summer and is rarely bothered by serious insect or disease problems.

The sturdy, branched stalks with numerous flowers grow about 24 to 30 inches tall and do not require staking. The 3- to 4-inch daisy-like flowers of deep gold with a prominent black cone in the center last a long time on the plant or when cut for indoor arrangements. In the landscape, the brilliant golden yellow flowers combine well with shades of blue or purple. But they also look good with any of the warm colors, including orange, yellow, tomato red, bronze or mahogany. Generally, the vivid color of the flowers is overpowering when planted with pale yellows and pinks. This plant looks wonderful combined with ornamental grasses, such as variegated maiden grass or purple fountain grass in the summer garden.

This time of the year, it is best to plant larger, well-established plants growing in at least 6- to 8-inch and, preferably, gallon-size containers. Plants growing in 4-inch pots, if available, will not put on much of a show planted this late, but they’ll grow and bloom beautifully in years to come. Planted now from larger containers, Goldsturm rudbeckia will bloom heavily this summer on good sized plants and provide an excellent display in the landscape.

In a small bed or small-scale landscape setting, one plant can make quite a show. But in larger beds, especially those that will be viewed from a distance, plant a mass or drift of at least three to five plants for an impressive display. Space plants 12 to 18 inches apart, plant them at the same depth they were growing in the container and mulch the area to control weeds and retain moisture. Water the newly planted rudbeckias deeply and regularly if the weather is hot and dry.

Remove –or “deadhead” – individual flowers as they fade, and cut entire flower stalks back to the lower leaves as they finish. The attractive dark green foliage of Goldsturm rudbeckia is fairly evergreen. Other than when they bloom, the plants have a rather low profile in the flower garden.

As time goes by, clumps of Goldsturm rudbeckia can be divided to keep the plants vigorous and create more plants for your garden or to share with friends. Division can be done about every three years anytime from November through early March, with fall preferred. Retain about three crowns per division for best results.

Visit LaHouse in Baton Rouge to see sustainable landscape practices in action. The home and landscape resource center is near the intersection of Burbank Drive and Nicholson Drive (Louisiana Highway 30) in Baton Rouge, across the street from the LSU baseball stadium. For more information, go to www.louisianahouse.org and www.lsuagcenter.com/lyn.

Rick Bogren
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