Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Plant Profile: Rudbeckia triloba

Move over Rudbeckia fulgida! If you want abundant flowers, with a taller habit, well you've got to get some Rudbeckia triloba.

There is a love/hate relationship with this plant, but I am not sure why. It's done nothing but perform for me.

Rudbeckia triloba is a native plant to North America. Seen in a lot of fields or even roadsides in Central/Eastern United States. For me it's a welcomed performer in the perennial border - specifically in the tough areas where you need height and long blooming periods.

In this photo below, R. triloba is grown in the back. Nearly a foot taller than its relative: R. fulgida.

Rudbeckia triloba has smaller flowers than other Rudbeckias.  I have a real fondness for their delicate petals. They are wonderful to dry - great for craft making.

Be aware: it is an herbaceous biennial, acting somewhat like a perennial. I've had limited success in keeping the same plant growing for about a year or two, then having to be reliant on seedlings for the following year. I've seen it reach about 5 feet in height, but here: it's around 3 1/2 feet tall.

Alos known as "Brown Eyed Susan", its flowers can nearly bloom for 3 months!

In my experience, it has better drought tolerance than R. fulgida, R. hirta and a little less tolerant than R. laciniata. Very few pests are attracted to R. triloba. Just some spider mites when it gets really hot in the summer and some leaf minor.

Here are the differences:

Distinct tri-leaves - 3 lobed shaped leaves which give it its name. They develop by May and you'll see the growth rate is much faster than the other Rudbeckias.

Rudbeckia triloba is a fabulous pollinator plant. Providing pollen and seeds for nature. Not to mention winter interest with their brown centres.

If you are growing R. triloba in a lot of shade, it stretches thus requiring some sort of support. An odd twig or peony ring would suffice.

Here is a sample of a small R. triloba seedling: easy to transplant in early spring to relocate. Similar looking to the fulgida baby plants, but less pubescent (less hairy).

A good helping of leaf mould or compost around the root level in spring-time, and it'll perform beautifully.

If you have concerns of it spreading uncontrollably, then remove the spent flowers (if left will naturalize the garden).

Note, when handling:  wear long sleeve shirts when the plant is gaining height. I find I get an itchy arm (similar to Juniper itch) if I weed around the base. Thankfully, it grows quickly and once it reaches 2 feet in height, the growth will choke out any room for germinating weeds!


Monday, August 08, 2016

Save Your Money - Don't Buy Plant Supports

I can't help but be frugal. I hate waste and I dislike spending money needlessly. I rather save funds to buy more plants.

Here are some ways to promote waste diversion and help to support/stake plants:

1. Chop sticks. I love Asian Food and when we order take out, we ask for chop-sticks. I may not use them to eat dinner, but my plants benefit from them!

Now, we do use them for eating as well. We just give them a good wash before using them as stakes.

Because I am so busy in the spring with outdoor gardening, several of my houseplants stretch for light in the summer.  As the shade tree casts dimmer light in my living room, I sometimes forget to turn the plant and it winds up growing off to one side. Chop sticks are fabulous for that extra prop.

2. Stems and branches from pruning shrubs and trees:

A pony tail support of sorts, this grass took a beating one night from a nasty thunderstorm.  The grass was smothering the begonias beneath and they needed rescuing. In a few weeks the undergrowth will hide the binding. I used birch stems from a recent dead birch take down (you probably have some from your old winter planter creations, no?), they are great supports. Better than bamboo sticks. IMO anyway.

Tucked in behind, they do the trick!  You can use dogwood, pussy willow stems and any that are sturdy enough to bear the brunt of some wind. Tie them into a teepee formation. It will work great with sisal or raffia bindings.

3. Coat Hangers:

Now that my amaryllis has flowered, I patiently wait until leaves start to yellow and whither, to start the whole process again.

With a simple cut and twist, this ?-shaped plant support is soooo handy. From holding up cactus, to divisions, to orchids - it's been used a LOT. So easy to make.

4. Dead evergreens: ie Taxus (Yew)

Unfortunately, a large Taxus Yew lived here. To dig out yews, well - the retaining wall around it may have been damaged since the roots are really deep. So instead of cutting it from the base, we placed some pots around it and have grown Morning Glory's that are nicely covering and give visual interest.

I've seen dead trees miraculously transformed by Ivy, Clematis and Creepers. Bringing new life to what was dead is pretty cool.

5. Plastic Utensils: I added this one to just prove a point (you can use ANYTHING!)

Having removed baby plantlets from below, and repotted, this Haworthia needed a little propping up for a month or  so. A plastic fork works great!

What do you use?
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