Sun hats (Rudbeckia) bring color into every shrub bed in late summer with bright yellow flower heads. The 16 species of the genus Sonnenhut belong to the family of the composite flower (Asteraceae) and originate from North America. Here they grow in the most different locations, from humid meadows up to dry prairies. Most species are perennial, some, such as the Rudbeckia hirta, are short-lived and are therefore usually cultivated on an annual basis. There are numerous large-flowered varieties of this species on the market, whose flowers are coloured from yellow to reddish brown.
Appearance and growth
Echinacea species are easily recognized by their flowers. They have a brown capitulum, which is covered with yellow ray flowers all around. Depending on the species, they either stand horizontally or hang slightly down. Particularly striking: the flower head of the giant sun hat (Rudbeckia maxima), which is a very impressive appearance in the bed as a whole. Depending on the species and variety, the flowers appear between July and October and attract numerous insects. Early flowering species include, for example, the Stuffed coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata), in which instead of the brown capitulum other ray flowers grow from the centre of the flower, and the parachute coneflower (Rudbeckia nitida ‘Juligold’) with hanging ray flowers.
In October the yellow or shining coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida) and the October coneflower (Rudbeckia triloba) are still in bloom. The perennial shrub grows obstreperously and can form larger stands. Some types spread also over its Ausläufertreibenden rhizomes. The fresh green leaves sit on tightly upright stems, but are no longer visible in a planting during the flowering period due to the many flowers. While species like the Missouri sun hat (Rudbeckia missouriensis) only reach a height of 40 centimeters, the parachute sun hat species can grow up to two meters high.
Location and soil
Sun hats thrive best in full sunny places on permeable, nutrient-rich and moisture-storing soils. If they stand too dry, they fall over easily and are more or less short-lived.
All Sonnenhut species are suitable for flower beds and open spaces, the varieties of Rudbeckia fulgida also get along at the edge of the trees. The variety ‘Goldsturm’ (Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii), bred by Karl Foerster, is particularly recommendable here, as it has been rated excellent in perennial sifting and is a true continuous bloomer. Like the other species, it is also very popular as a cut flower.
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The bright yellow of the sun hat can be combined with all kinds of colours. It looks particularly beautiful in a bed with other warm tones, for example orange or red yarrow (Achillea) or sun bride (Helenium). The perfect partner, however, are grasses of all kinds with which beautiful prairie-style plantations can be planted. Plants with other flower forms such as the royal candle (Verbascum) or torches (Kniphofia) form a good contrast. Because of the late flowering time, asters are also very good combination partners. The lower species of the sun hat are best suited for a place in the foreground of the bed, while the higher ones, planted further back thanks to their bright yellow flowers, still attract attention.
Many species of sun hats still bring striking structures into the perennial bed in winter and should therefore only be pruned back in spring before new sprouting.
In order to maintain their vitality, all sun hats should be divided every four to five years in spring.
Further care tips
Higher species such as the Stuffed Sun Hat are best supported with a perennial ring, otherwise they easily fall over.
The Sonnenhut species are propagated in spring by sowing, dividing or basal cuttings, which should have roots if possible.
Diseases and pests
Young plants are popular with snails. Older plants can also be attacked by aphids or powdery mildew.
In an interview with our store editor Dieke van Dieken, plant doctor René Wadas reveals his tips against aphids.Credits: Production: Folkert Siemens; Camera and Editing: Fabian Primsch