Save the Seeds: Rudbeckia and Wild Asters

To celebrating this first week of autumn, in my Mother’s garden, the deep-yellow flowers of the hybrid form of our native Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) are ripening into dark chocolate seed heads. Interlaced with the Rudbeckia are the newly-opened white flowers of one of our wonderful native fall asters.

While it’s good to clean up in the fall, the pictured plants and all others with edible seeds should be left until early Spring. As you know, our small seed-eating songbirds, whose bushes and meadows have become condos and malls, desperately need winter food from our gardens. Leave the seeds, and you’re rewarded with the winter beauty of the seed stalks and pods graced by wrens, finches, warblers, and sparrows (against the snow if you’re far enough North). Consider this: the birds feasting on my mother’s Rudbeckia seeds last winter left behind a thoughtful hostess gift: the aster’s seeds.

By the way, I recommend the hybrid Rudbeckia over the native version. The hybrid is more compact and resistant to powdery mildew, and has a longer blooming season. As to the native asters, they’re prefect as is. If you find them a bit tall, pinch them back during June and July. Both plants are drought tolerant, sun worshipers; many asters also do well in part-shade. Both plants are rated zones 4 to 8 but “In My Garden” readers in zone 9 (California, Louisiana, and Florida) and zone 3 (Ontario) are probably also familiar with these garden treats. Let me know.


And the readers said…

[Sorry about the late picture last Sunday. Sue]

There’s no picture!! But I think I know what flower you are talking about and yes it is quite pretty. Thank you for the email…I was hoping for a picture lol. Talk to you later. Kim (ONT)

I do enjoy starting the week with your emails! Judi (CO)

Can you send the pictures too? thanks for sending the emails. Linda (FL)

So beautiful!!!!!! Carmen (FL)

I love the photos of your garden. What steps on the computer do I have to go through to use one of the photos as a screen saver? Nancy Anne (CT)

I believe this is great, I mean “In my garden”.. Saludos Julia (CT)

thanks for the second sending == I thought my computer was acting up not loading the picture! Always look forward to these pretties. Gregg (NY)

BTW Diane’s beautiful Louisiana garden has pretty much survived both hurricanes.–Sue