Sunday, September 19, 2021

What’s Coming Up In The Garden, 66 and 67: two varieties of sweet coneflower

I fell in love with these two varieties of sweet coneflower a local nursery had this fall and I had the perfect place to put them - on either side of the azure blue sage I put in last fall.

The first, Henry Eilers sweet coneflower:

‘Henry Eilers’ sweet coneflower

Rudbeckia subtomentosa 'Henry Eilers'

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The unique, finely quilled, 2-inch-wide flowers are what make 'Henry Eilers' stand out from the rest of the coneflowers. The petals sit separate from one another, forming a brilliant, golden yellow starburst around a dark brownish purple cone. The blooms grow on strong, upright, 4- to 5-foot-tall stems in late summer, and are produced in such abundance that you can cut some for bouquets and you'll never even notice they are missing from the garden. The stems are covered with a soft, hairy down, while the leaves have a pleasing vanilla-and-anise scent.

The second one is Little Henry:

Golden yellow quilled ray petals surround deep brown-eyed cones. The unique flowers of Little Henry Sweet Coneflower are produced on many branched sturdy stems beginning in mid to late summer with the show lasting often into fall on well established plants. A compact form of Henry Eilers with sturdier flower stems and an earlier flowering time, Little Henry's poise and uniqueness lend it to use in smaller spaces but it is sure to make a big statement in nearly any garden or landscape. A clump forming, native perennial whose flowers attract a variety of garden beneficials.
Little Henry Sweet Coneflower is more compact than Henry Eilers topping out at about 3-4' high and begins flowering about 2 weeks earlier than its parent. The unique flowers make long lasting cut flowers.
Sweet Coneflower is a vigorous clump forming perennial common to stream banks and moist areas but will do fine in average garden soils. The sweetly scented foliage gives it its common name. Along with 'Herbstonne', the Sweet Coneflower is one of the latest to flower. This perennial Rudbeckia is unusual in that it will grow and flower quite well even under deciduous shade.

The regular ones, as described by the Missouri Botanical Garden:

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: sweet coneflower 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asteraceae
Native Range: Central United States
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 3.00 to 5.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to October
Bloom Description: Yellow rays and brownish purple center disks
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Rain Garden
Flower: Showy, Fragrant, Good Cut
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Clay Soil


Best grown in medium moisture soils that are well-drained loams in full sun. Tolerates hot and humid summers and some drought. Appreciates good air circulation. Deadhead spent flowers to encourage additional bloom.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Rudbeckia subtomentosa, commonly called sweet coneflower, is a Missouri native, nonrhizomatous perennial which occurs on moist prairies, along streambanks and in low areas throughout the state. Typically grows 3-5' tall and features daisy-like flowers (to 3" across) with yellow rays and dark brownish-purple center disks on branched stems. Flowers have a mild aroma of anise, hence the common name. Toothed, gray-green leaves (lower leaves are 3-lobed) are downy below. Long summer-to-early-fall bloom period.

Genus name honors Olof Rudbeck (1630-1702) Swedish botanist and founder of the Uppsala Botanic Garden in Sweden where Carl Linnaeus was professor of botany.

Specific epithet means downy below for the hairs on the underside of leaves.


No serious insect or disease problems. Powdery mildew may appear. Taller plants may need some support, particularly if grown in part shade.


Borders, cottage gardens, prairies, meadows, native plant gardens or naturalized areas. Good cut flower.




Grey Horse Matters said...

I’ve never seen those particular plants but they have ver distinctive flowers. I like unusual looking plants like this. Pretty.

billie said...

I hadn’t either - I’m really excited as it’s always nice to find fall season blooming plants for the honey bees, especially since they can usually keep going well into November here.