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Top 5 Perennials of the West


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Black-Eyed Susans and Coneflowers
The black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta) is the state flower of Maryland.
The black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta) is the state flower of Maryland.

­Coneflowers get their name from the fact that they look like, well, cones. With petals splayed back, they display long, nectar-filled centers that make them the perfect flowers for a butterfly garden. Black-eyed Susans don't let their middles stick out as far, which is the best way to tell these look-alikes apart.

Black-eyed Susans and coneflowers are usually bright yello­w with long, thin petals. You can slightly mix up the coloring by selecting varieties that have rust, green, black or purple cones, or rays of color splashing out from the center. Varieties include:

  • Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
  • Black-eyed Susan/Orange coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida)
  • Cutleaf coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata)
  • Sweet coneflower (Rudbeckia subtomentosa)
  • Rudbeckia nitida "Herbstsonne"

Rudbeckia flowers prefer moisture-retentive soil with partial shade or full ­sun. If you like tall flowers in your garden, Black-eyed Susans and coneflowers make an excellent choice. Most varieties of these hardy flowers grow more than 4 feet (1.2192 m) tall. These daisy-like beauties will light up your garden as they reach high into the sky.

As with all hobbies, once you get the hang of perennial gardening, you'll become more comfortable with adding new varieties. But for the moment, you have at five perennials to start with -- so gather your gloves and start digging.