1999 Perennial Plant of the Year

Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’ has been selected by the Perennial Plant Association as the 1999 Perennial Plant of the Year. Acclaimed internationally as one of the most popular perennials for the past fifty years, its bright golden-yellow flowers shine in gardens worldwide. In 1937 Heinrich Hagemann observed a glorious stand of Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii at Gebrueder Schuetz’s nursery in the Czech Republic. Recognizing the superiority over other commonly-grown Rudbeckia species, Hagemann convinced his employer Karl Foerster of Potsdam, Germany to propagate his discovery. World War 11 interfered with the planned debut of the plant and it was not until 1949 that the triumphant success of Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii renamed ‘Goldsturm’ began. ‘ Goldsturm ‘ translates to English as “gold storm.” Heinrich Hagemann, although retired, maintains an active interest in his company, the world-renowned Hagemann Staudenkulturen.

A member of the Asteraceae (Compositae) family, orange coneflower or black-eyed Susan has a native range from New Jersey west to Illinois. ‘Goldsturm’ orange coneflower is significant in its compact habit and 1/2-inch golden-yellow petals which encircle a nearly black cone of disk flowers. The leaves are coarse, dark green lanceolate to ovate, 3-6 inches long; stem leaves are smaller, almost bract-like. The “gold storm” blankets the tops of I 8-30-inch tall plants from mid-July to October. Plant width is 24 inches.

This excellent composite can be propagated by seed, division, or stem cuttings. Height and color uniformity can vary in plants grown from seed compared to asexually propagated plants. Germination guidelines prescribe moist chilling for 3-4 weeks at 32-35oF followed by 72oF germination temperature. Research at The Ohio State University reported an optimal germination temperature for untreated seeds to be 82oF to 88oF. Seedlings are transplanted 28-38 days after sowing. Clump division is done in early spring or fall with spring preferred. Stem cuttings are taken as the stem tissue begins to harden.

‘Goldsturm’ is a long-blooming, low maintenance, long-lived perennial for full sun to partial shade. It tolerates clay soils and mild droughts, but grows best in well-drained, consistently moist soil. ‘Goldsturm’ orange coneflower performs as well in the high heat and humidity of South Carolina as it does in the -35oF winters of Alberta. Plant bare-root or container-grown plants anytime during the growing season, 18 inches apart. When establishing a new planting, mulch to retain moisture. ‘Goldsturm’ has few pest or disease problems.

Landscape Uses
Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’ works exceptionally well in commercial landscapes because of its durability and dramatic visual impact. Stiff stems eliminate any need for staking. Rhizomes spread the semi-evergreen basal leaves thickly enough to shade out weeds making it an effective non-invasive ground cover. Planted in bold drifts, the shimmering golden-yellow flowers command attention to the early fall garden. Its native North American roots make ‘Goldsturm’ a natural for meadow gar-dens providing nectar for butterflies and seeds for overwintering birds. As a mid-border perennial, ‘Goldsturm’ adds a brilliant splash in late summer when combined with the subtle hues of pale blue Perovskia atriplicifolia or Caryopteris x clandonensis and soft green Pennisetum alopecuroides. In winter the black stems and seedheads add contrast and texture against the muted tans of ornamental grasses. Prolific flowering, low maintenance requirements, and proven reliability has earned Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’ distinction as an award-winning perennial.

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