Brown Eyed Girl in the September Garden

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, my favorite Rudbeckia is Brown-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba). Though the common name is puzzling – is the eye any more brown than either of the Rudbeckia species commonly known as Black-Eyed Susan (R. hirta and R. fulgida)?


But let’s not split hairs.

Right now, Brown-Eyed Susan is certainly the most abundant of all the blooms to be found in the front garden. Indeed, this short-lived perennial flower can bloom from July to October, but is probably at its peak in early September.


Brown-Eyed Susan is a cheerfully generous plant, which is why I am so fond of it. She is generous with her blooms – see through masses of golden-yellow daisies.


She is generous in her tolerance for varied conditions – sun or light shade, moist or dry soil. I’ve found that she happily adapts to being cut back hard. This can be necessary as Brown-Eyed Susan can grow up to 5′ in garden conditions.


Though rather short-lived, she generously provides  gardeners with her many offspring. Once you have a single Brown-Eyed Susan, you should never have to buy another one. I appreciate the fact that there are always a few extra Brown-Eyed Susans around to fill in empty spots that appear in beds and borders.

Admittedly, it is possible to have too many Brown-Eyed Susans. However, that is easily remedied.


Brown-Eyed Susan’s light, cloud-like mass of flowers goes well with the grasses that come into their own at this time of year.


Still, I wish there were a better common name for this species. It is also known as Branched Coneflower or Three-Leaved Coneflower, but those names seem terribly unromantic. So – Brown-Eyed Susan it is.

45 Comments on “Brown Eyed Girl in the September Garden

  1. Jason, do you have trouble with your brown eyed Susan’s flopping or falling over? I love my Rudbeckia for its carefree nature but it does flop and fall over.

    • Yes, it definitely has a tendency to flop. However, this plant responds well to being cut back hard – at least 2/3. I also use stakes and twine to keep it upright.

  2. I wonder if the Brown Eyed Susan would survive in our front garden, where we can very hot weather in summer, and spring winds…I might give them a try, it is lovely to have cheerful flowers in the front garden.

  3. Oh yes, she is prolific. I do enjoy her spreading her cheerful self around the garden. She even took herself out to the front garden for a bit more sun. That is the darkest brown I have ever seen tho.

  4. I love the rudbeckias, too. Triloba is a most welcome inhabitant in my gardens.

  5. Hear, hear! Without my Susan—black eyed, in my case—my front garden would be a sorry, ragged sight. But Susan brightens everything, and makes the front garden look funky rather than ragged.

  6. I think R. triloba is my favorite Rudbeckia too, Jason.

    Great minds think alike! 😉

    It’s actually my first year growing brown-eyed Susan. I have her in a fairly shady spot, so she didn’t grow that large, but she is flowering prettily. I hope she’ll give me some volunteers next year that I can transplant to sunnier areas. Do seedlings transplant easily?

  7. I love most things that will romp around a garden and show up in unexpected places. As I spy your Tithonia in the background, I am kicking myself yet again for failing to grow it this year. Orange will always win out over yellow here, but I do love Susan in your garden.

  8. What a display! I only have blacked eyed susans…I think. Most of the plants in my garden were inherited from the previous owners so it’s often a guessing game.

  9. Lovely! You just can’t beat a large drift of such vibrant blooms. I planted her here last year and she has already doubled, maybe one day I’ll have as many as

  10. I’ve always been confused about whether the common name for Rudbeckia was “brown-eyed susan” or “black-eyed susan;” thank you for clearing that up. I confess that I have a real weakness for the green-eyed varieties.

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