Fantastic Design Plant: Giant Coneflower, a Authentic Exclamation Point

Yeah, yeah, yeah, there is ordinary old biennial Rudbeckia that is 2 feet tall and for sale in any nursery, but then there is the long-living giant coneflower. If you would like to be the talk of your gardening friends, provide the latter a place to accent your border or meadow.

Missouri Botanical Garden

Botanical name: Rudbeckia maxima
Common names: Giant coneflower, tall coneflower
Origin: Native to the southern Great Plains — Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana
Where it can grow: Hardy to -30 degrees (USDA climate zones 4 to 8); locate your zone
Water and dirt requirements: Medium to moist clay and loam
Light requirement: Full to partial sun
Mature size: 6 ft tall and 3 ft wide, with very powerful stems
Advantages and tolerances: Easy perennial; attracts pollinating insects and butterflies; requires a few brief drought
Seasonal interest: Good four-week or more bloom period in midsummer; unique big blue leaves; winter interest
When to plant: Spring to fall

Benjamin Vogt / Monarch Gardens

Distinguishing traits. In spring the foliage of large powdery-blue leaves begins to rise out of the center, giving way to several June and July stalks that can take most any windstorm. Flowers bloom for weeks and provide wonderful winter interest.

Benjamin Vogt / Monarch Gardens

How to utilize it. A stunner out in the middle of a meadow or at the center of a border, giant coneflower is a true exclamation point. Its leaves also cup water that insects and birds drink out of, making it a fantastic pit stop for wildlife. Goldfinches can consume the winter seeds, whereas the foliage in warmer zones can be green in winter.

Planting notes. Giant coneflower does best with consistent moisture but can handle some regular burial. It is not affected by diseases or pests, and may be dug in at any time of year. It is carefree and unique — so do you have one?

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