February 1, 2011

Improves With Removal

I have a gardening oops to confess.  (Joene makes us do this!  She posts Gardening Oops on her blog on the first of each month, where you can check out hers and others' mistakes.  I am oddly compelled to post the goofs I have made each month.)

The oops this month is that I planted a perennial and I didn't do enough research.  I planted Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm'
from MoBot's files

Really, how could sunny black eyed Susans ever be a mistake?  The golden yellow of 'Goldsturm' is rich and warm, and goes with every other color blooming next to it.  They are incredibly reliable bloomers, sturdy of stem, easy to grow, and the stalks even look great in winter if you leave the seed heads standing for the birds.

Although black eyed Susans in general will seed everywhere, I find them to be easy to control.

But 'Goldsturm' gets angular leaf spot, a disfiguring bacterial disease on its foliage.  The leaves blacken something terrible.  They get crisp and ugly, from the bottom up.  The plants still bloom their heads off, but the foliage is awful.  Mine were impossible to enjoy close up; by the end of the summer every inch of the leaves was black.
artfully photographing the clumps of 'Goldsturm' rudbeckia with other plants in front is helpful
When I started to research what to do about it, I thought I would find advice on cutting back for air circulation, or directions on controls to use to battle the bacterium.  But all the advice said was: "don't plant 'Goldsturm'.  Plant another variety of rudbeckia.  'Goldsturm' is highly susceptible to leaf spot."  Every source said the same thing: "control by removing and planting something else."

This is kind of a big oops.  A plant in my garden that will only look good if I remove it. 

They were worse this past summer.  In earlier years they looked better.  Really good, actually.
But by the end of 2010 the entire clump was infected, and the bacterium can overwinter in the soil, leading me to expect even worse results next year.  Chemical controls are not effective.  The bacterium is very specific to host plants, and 'Goldsturm' is one of those hosts.

If only I had done some research on this plant before I put it in my garden.  That was a mistake.  After admitting this gardening oops, I am ready to remove these clumps and replace them with another type of rudbeckia.  That should make them look better.

I like the look of black eyed Susans against the brick wall, so I'd like more... just not this one.    Casa Mariposa says Rudbeckia hirta 'Indian Summer' did well in her Flowerbed of Death last summer.  Anyone have recommendations on their favorite black eyed Susan cultivars?
current photo of 'Goldsturm' as of January 31


  1. Thanks for again confessing a GOOPs, Laurrie. This is a good one. I had similar leaf issues with one of my echinacea 'Green Envy' plants. I'm going to watch it again this season to see if it needs removal or self-corrects. It's not in such a conspicuous spot as your rudbeckia, though.
    Since my rudbeckia are all native volunteers, I don't have any cultivar advice for you ... just do your research ... as I'm sure you will.

  2. Hmmm - I suppose 'Goldsturm' might be a mistake in some places, but in my own yard it's planted everywhere - damp meadow, full sun front border, half shade back garden, all with very nice foliage. I suppose once a disease gets hold though, it's best to get rid of the plant altogether, at least for a while...

  3. Joene, I actually have some native volunteer rudbeckia out in the weedy unmowed meadow. Maybe I could transplant some of those.

    Cyndy, you are lucky to have no problems with your 'Goldsturm'. I do like it, it's a nice black eyed Susan. It's great that it is thriving for you in so many different spots!

  4. I too don't have a problem. It is in my cutting garden on the side of the house that I rarely see. The only time I go over there is to take its photo when it is blooming like crazy.

  5. Donna, hmmm, am I the only one with this bacterium in my garden? And how did I get it? Glad to hear your 'Goldsturm' looks good.

  6. The same thing happened to my 'Goldstrum'. I pulled them out. By the way, your photos are lovely!

  7. This probably won't help any since I'm in a different climate, but leafspot here seems to depend on the sighting. Full sun + heavy soil = leafspot in my garden. The ones in dappled shde and leaner soil are fine and they've been there a dozen years.

    I love Brown-Eyed Susan but it's taller and more open than 'Goldsturm'. Gail at clay and limestone has Sweet Black-Eyed Susan and it's beautiful.

  8. Thanks for posting about this. I had no idea they were susceptible to leaf spots. It's good to know.

  9. Laurrie, I have 'Goldstrum' too and some years the infection is better than others. Last year, it was almost non-existent but that could be because we didn't get much rain and I don't usually add much supplemental water.

    Months ago I read a post somewhere (I have no idea where anymore) that mentioned Rudbeckia subtomentosa as a great sub for 'Goldstrum'. I don't know anything about it - I haven't done any research yet - but I thought I'd pass the name on to you.

  10. Deborah, thanks. Too bad yours got the same problem as mine. Other commenters seem to have okay luck with 'Goldsturm'.

    Sweetbay, I'm surprised the dappled shade works for yours. I thought they were full sun plants, although you certainly get a hotter summer than I do. I'll check out the Brown Eyed and the Sweet ones you mention.

    Meemsnyc, thanks, I'm glad to know this helps others that have this planted.

    Debbie, Mine were good in other years too, but not last summer. I'll research the subtomentosa rudbeckia, thanks.


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