Rudbeckia hirta, also called Black-Eyed Susan is a short-lived perennial, which can also be sown as an annual. I planted seeds outside on March 26th and these are the flowers On July 23rd.
Here is how to get a 1000 seeds in just ten minutes.
First tear off the outer parts of the flower. Note – I wear a glove on my left hand to protect it from the sticky parts. Note that I also leave a 2″ stem so that it is easy to hold.
Using a philips head screwdriver, run it through the seed head to remove the seeds. The seeds are the tiny black objects in the picture above. I’ve found that you can usually get about a hundred seeds from one flower.
I also use parchment paper to collect the seeds and put them in a plastic bag.These seed heads have been sitting around for a couple of months in a paper bag, so they are plenty dry.
The plants are still flowering, but not as vigorously.
The most common problem I have with Echinacea (Purple Coneflower) is the Aster Yellows Disease which shows up occasionally in my garden. The above picture shows what it looks like as compared to a normal Echinacea.
The only solution to this is to dig out the entire plant and throw it away.
The second problem I have are Rosette Mites. They only affect the seed heads.
The main solution is to clip off the flower heads and get them out of your garden.
If you’re contemplating putting in a native seed flower bed in late fall, August is a good time to get the soil ready.
Your main job is to get rid of all the grass and weeds and have a clean area without any vegetation. Don’t till as that will bring up weed seeds.
I’d loosen up the top 1/2″ of soil and keep the area moist to encourage any weed seeds to germinate now before the growing season.
In St. Louis, Scott Woodbury our resident expert, suggests advice from Merv Wallace… “Merv recommends one ounce of seed mix per 400-500 square feet and 3 grams per 20 square feet. With your 4 grams, you are looking at around 25 sq ft.”
Sow the seeds on the surface in December.
I’d suggest mixing the seed with either play sand or potting mix. It makes for better disbursement when you throw the seeds out. Don’t mix into the soil or cover with straw. Just let the seeds sit on the surface. Winter frost heave will move the seeds into the upper layer of the soil to the perfect depth. Seeds will sprout in early April.
Native plants don’t need fertilizer, but might need watering during the first year.
Note – I like to cover my seeds with a light dusting of potting mix to hide them from the birds.
If you need to water potted plants during a vacation, here’s a basic setup which worked for me.
You first need a timer to let it know when you want the water turned on and for how long. I used the Orbit Timer – it’s the basic unit. It uses 2 AA batteries and worked well for my last vacation. I’d suggest testing it ahead of time so that you get the amount of water you need for your plants.
You can see most of the pots I wanted to water, plus there are a few which are hidden that it reached also. I just moved all my pots to within range and everything was alive when I came back. You can use whatever sprinkler you have on hand.
Note – I let Mother Nature take care of my lawn and other plants, although I do water ahead of my vacation if needed.
By mid-July, there are a number of perennial plants which are pretty much done blooming and can benefit from a mid-summer haircut. Some will reward you with a second bloom, others will just look a bit neater in the garden. I also spread some organic fertilizer on the cut back plants. Here’s a list of specific plants and how I handle them in mid-July.
Calamint – native – testing this by cutting back some and leaving some.
Maltese Cross – Save the seed and then cut back to the base. It will rebloom.
Nepeta – Walkers Low – Cut back to base. It will rebloom.
Penstemon – cut back to base. They do not rebloom.
Salvia – perennial – will bloom again when cut back to the ground.
Shasta Daisy – If I see buds below, I will deadhead, but when they are all done blooming, I cut to just above ground level. They do not rebloom.
Veronica – I usually cut these back down to the ground, but this year I’m doing a test and am cutting some down by 50%. Veronica will bloom again. Note – I ended up cutting this to the ground.