Tuesday, June 30, 2020

What’s Coming Up In The Garden, 55: green head coneflower

This is an unusual coneflower that has a very prominent green head that eventually turns yellow and golden brown in the fall. I wanted something bright in the potager, native and upright and not attractive to deer but super attractive to pollinators, and this fit the bill nicely. Unlike many of the natives I’ve planted, these aren’t drought resistant, but since they’re in a space that will get regular watering anyway, I think they’ll do well in the potager.

I put in four of these this week and am hoping to see some blooms this season!

More info:

Rudbeckia laciniata 'Autumn Sun (sold out until 2021)'

Autumn Sun cut-leaf coneflower

Native to North America


FIRST IMPRESSIONS:  Rudbeckia laciniata Autumn Sun is a selection of a native clump forming perennial with multiple upright stems.  The leaves are large, dark green and deeply lobed.  From summer until fall foliage is topped with clusters of showy daisy-like flower heads. Each head consists of a yellow-green globular cone surrounded by drooping yellow rays.  This rhizomatous species thrives in partly shaded sites with moist or wet fertile soils. 

HABITAT & HARDINESS:  Rudbeckia laciniata Autumn Sun occurs in most of the southern Canadian provinces and in all the contiguous United States except for California, Nevada and Oregon.

Plants are indigenous to bottomland forests, moist meadows, borders and clearings of moist woods, shaded sloughs, shaded banks of rivers, creeks and ponds, calcareous seeps and wet to moist fields or pastures.

This species is hardy from USDA Zones 5-9.

PLANT DESCRIPTION:  Rudbeckia laciniata Autumn Sun is an upright lanky perennial that branches in the top half. 

The stems are smooth, light green and clad in alternate drooping blades.  Basal leaves are up to 12” long and 12” across with narrowly winged petioles and 3-7 large toothed lobes.  As the stems rise, the leaves become progressively smaller and unlobed.  

For 1-2 months beginning in summer, stems terminate in clusters of daisy-like heads.  Each head is 2-3” across with a nubby globular cone wreathed by 6-12 clear yellow oblong ray florets. 

The young cones are green with unique widely spaced disc florets that impart a pincushion-like appearance.  The cones turn yellow as the disc florets mature and finally morph into golden brown seed heads as winter approaches.

Plants are 4-7’ tall with a 3-4’ spread.  This species often forms colonies from long underground rhizomes.

CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDS Rudbeckia laciniata Autumn Sun thrives in part sun and moist soil.   Plants tolerate wet soils, seasonal flooding, heat and humidity.

Plants are pest resistant and foliage is unpalatable to deer and other herbivores.

This species is not very drought tolerant.  It may survive in sunny well drained sites but leaves are usually wilted with brown edges. 

In good growing situations with plenty of moisture, plants may spread aggressively from rhizomes.

LANDSCAPE USES:  Rudbeckia laciniata Autumn Sun is a dramatic Accent for a Wildlife Garden or moist Meadow. Plants are also used as Butterfly Nectar Plants or as part of a Grouping or Mass Planting.   This wildflower offers Showy Blooms and provides Erosion Control.  It is useful in Stormwater Management and Rain Gardens. It can be used in Cottage Gardens, Deer Resistant Plantings, Low Maintenance Plantings, Perennial Borders or Shade Gardens.

COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS:  Try pairing Rudbeckia laciniata Autumn Sun with Aster novi-belgii, Deschampsia caespitosa, Eupatorium perfoliatum, Lobelia cardinalis, Penstemon calycosus, Carex amphibola, Panicum virgatum or Sorghastrum nutans.

Rudbeckia laciniata is a possible substitute for sunny rain gardens and stormwater management projects.

TRIVIA:  Blossoms attract a variety of bees, pollinating flies, beneficial wasps, butterflies, skippers and moths.  Caterpillars of Silvery Checkerspot Butterflies forage on the foliage and seeds are sometimes eaten by goldfinches.  Foliage is not particularly palatable to deer and other herbivores.

Rudbeckia laciniata Autumn Sun can be differentiated from related species due to their nubby green to yellow cones.  Most other Rudbeckia spp. have brown, black or gray cones.  Foliage of this species has 3-7 deep lobes while most other Rudbeckia spp. have fewer or no lobes.


4-7 ft


3-4 ft


18 Inches

USDA Hardiness Zone:


Bloom Color:


Rudbeckia laciniata 'Autumn Sun (sold out until 2021)' Characteristics

Attracts Wildlife

  • Butterflies
  • Pollinators


  • East-Coast Native
  • Cut Flower
  • Rain Garden
  • Coastal
  • Clay Soil
  • Bog
  • Naturalizing
  • Long Blooming


  • Full Sun to Partial Shade

Deer Resistant

  • Deer Resistant

Flowering Months

  • September
  • August
  • July

Foliage Color

  • Green

Growth Rate

  • Medium

Juglans nigra Tolerance (Black Walnut)

  • Yes

Salt Tolerance

  • Low

Soil Moisture Preference

  • Moist to Wet


Grey Horse Matters said...

Should be pretty. My coneflowers just opened this week. Thankfully, we finally got some rain so that helped.

billie said...

Wow - it is amazing to think that you’re just getting your coneflowers! But otoh, maybe you are also “just” getting biting flies! Sigh wrt them - I’m doing a big bunch of things to insure that Redford’s little legs do not get chewed this year. It’s working but I’m getting besieged by biting gnats who tunnel into my short sleeve t-shirt sleeves and bite the tender flesh there. Ugh. I’ve been trying to wear a long sleeve but it’s just so hot. Here’s to coneflowers and soothing rain!

Grey Horse Matters said...

If you would rather wear long sleeves and be cool check out Duluth clothing. J and I have some long sleeves from them and they are cool enough and have hidden gussets that let you move and even a hidden zipper pocket on some. Buy one and see if you like it.

billie said...

Funny - the one long sleeve I have been wearing is from Duluth - it’s one of the cotton ones that doesn’t have much give to it so while it works well for the bugs, it isn’t as good to “work” in. I was looking at their Armochillo ones a few weeks back and then forgot to pursue it. Have you tried those? I’m going to go look again and pick something out. It would make daily chores so much more bearable. Thank you for reminding me about their clothing!!