Tall Cutleaf Coneflower for
Bumble Bees and Butterflies
Rudbeckia laciniata: Cutleaf coneflower, Green-headed coneflower, Wild golden glow
- Perennial: USDA hardiness zones 4-8 (lows to -34.4 °C or -30 °F)
- Native to most of the US (except the far west)
- Native to most of Canada (except Alberta and Saskatchewan)
- Full sun to part shade
- Prefers moist, well-draining soils
- Height: 4 to 7 feet- ours have grown over 7 ft. the past two seasons
- Spacing: 3 to 4 ft
- Flowers: bright yellow with central green cones
- Blooms July to September
- Sow seeds directly outside in fall- November is a good option for most regions
- Start seeds indoors before final frost
- Sow seeds directly after final frost
- Divide in fall
- Winter sowing is a good option for controlling plant placement
- This plant is a sunshine spectacle in the garden when it eclipses 7 feet
- Long bloom period- up to 2 months
- Height makes it easy to view nectar-thirsty bees and butterflies
- Produces a bounty of beautiful blooms
- No serious pest issues- we haven’t experienced any in Minnesota over 4 seasons
- Can spread by rhizomes in moist soils
- Tall stalks can require staking- our plants are growing against a south fence and we have never had to stake them
- Spring planted seeds and small plants won’t flower first year
- Large leaves droop when soil dries out
Laciniata Growing Tips:
I’ve heard several reports that cutleaf coneflower can be an invasive garden plant. We have not had this problem (by a stroke of luck) because of plant placement.
I had not researched this before we planted it, and placed it in a corner where we have other coneflower varieties growing. Fortunately, this was in the driest part of our garden. We added compost to the soil before planting to improve soil quality but this is not the soil it would prefer for invasive growth through rhizomes.
Our plants have thrived, but they have not spread…at all.
Keep an eye on your coneflowers during dry periods. Water when the leaves start to droop so your plants stay perky for pollinators.
Rudbeckia lacinaiata is very popular with bumble bees. There are times when there is a bumble bee on almost every blooming flower. This might be the bumble bees’ favorite flower in our garden.
Please comment below if you’ve seen other butterflies and pollinators sipping nectar from the green-headed coneflower. This type of info is rarely listed so your input can help others make the best decisions for their precious garden space.
Find More Yellow Butterfly Flower Favorites on our Butterfly Plants Page
Rudbeckia laciniata in your butterfly garden:
Unless you have a large property, I would stay away from golden glow.
I have two small native plant gardens and I planted some golden glow in one. It took over 75% of the garden – very aggressive. I had to remove it all. Even now, 10 years later, I get a few every year. Persistent devil!
Have had them for 4yrs. No care here in MA other than cutting down in spring after birds and insects finish with them. Lots of pollinators but very few butterflies here. They seem to prefer the butterfly bushes and verbena bonariensis. The verbena seeds like crazy but it’s easy to pull. Be sure butterfly bush isn’t invasive in your area.
The coneflower weevil has attacked my coneflowers, sunflowers, zinnias, black eyed Susan, and I have also found them on the milkweed. After trying for several years to get rid of this evil creature, I gave up and dug up all my coneflowers and sunflowers.
If anyone has a suggestion for getting rid of this pest, I would like to know.
What do these pest look like. I get a small orange something on my milkweed and this year have cut all infected branches off. Squishy. Leaves your hands orange yellow v
can you pinch them back when get 12-18 inches o make bushier and not so tall.
Can they be cut back so they don’t get as tall? Will they still bloom?
Hi Linda, we cut them back once and they still bloomed…I can’t remember if (or how long) the bloom cycle was delayed. maybe someone else will have an answer for you…
Thriving in SE Pennsylvania. Spotted Lantern Flys seem to like it. I like it too.
You do know to kill any spotted lantern flies you see, since they are an invasive species? Just checking. ?
Going to the nursery today to get more milkweed and will look for coneflowers. Finally have some cats, brought in 5 since yesterday! Was beginning to worry. However, the red beetles are eating the milkweed also. So, my 7 plants are not enough to keep everyone fat and sassy. It seems late to have the cats but they are finally here and all look healthy so far — live in Southern California, east of the coast.
Hi Shelly, cutleaf coneflowers might be difficult to grow in your region…congrats on finding caterpillars!
Mine too, it also seems to be spreading to other areas of our property, by seed, I am guessing that when I haul the dead stalks to the bonfire seeds drop off and start next spring.
Does well in my NC garden. It does tend to droop in the hot, humid temperatures of summer, and likes a good drink. It’s a beautiful plant and can handle growing in our heavy dense clay.
In my NH, zone 4/5, they get 8-9 ft tall in full sun & rich soil, blooming Sept-Oct. The chickadees love them, along with bees. Mine are aggressive, but not hard to pull out and toss or transplant (I’ve put them along the road in gravelly sandy soil, and they’re tamer there–4 ft –and they have to fight for space with Jerusalem artichokes [Helianthus].) I’m glad to have them both for height, late season color, and clear benefits to winged critters, but I have a lot of room so don’t mind the spreading habit.
I planted mine in very moist soil and I wish I had never planted it because it has spread like wildfire and is creeping into the lawn and vegetable garden.
Hi Bonita, ours is in a drier area of the garden so it has been manageable…you could always try moving it to a different microclimate of your yard or remove it entirely if it’s too invasive…
Hi, Bonita. I live along a river, and planted native prairie plants for a buffer zone. The Cutleaf Coneflowers have just about taken it completely over. Not sure how I am going to control them. The honeybees, bumblebees, monarchs, swallowtails, and all kinds of pollinators love them, so it is hard to think about removing them. But I’ll have to find a way to make for some more variety. If anyone knows a good way to control them, I’d appreciate any info.
Hi. I managed to get some seeds from a neighbour. I have always sown my flower seeds this time of year (last batch will be this weekend – including these ones). You said Spring sown ones will not flower in year one. Do you think I can expect blooms next summer, with my autumn sowing?
Hi Rachel, if you fall plant plants you can often get flowering the first season, but growth for seeds will probably be slower for year one…good luck!
These have done well for us in northern Virginia, and do spread, which is fine with us. The honeybees, bumblebees, wasps and native bees all love them in August and September. We have noticed that the goldfinches love their seeds once flowering as slowed or stopped. They appear to be a great food source for our pollinators!
I bought a pot at a local garden club plant sale and they spread like crazy in one of my largest beds but I pulled out most of them and moved a dozen or so to the property edge to hide the leaf pile. They are blooming in almost full shade. Happy to have found them the right home on my property instead of purging them.
For more than thirty years I’ve been growing what I thought was wild sunflowers. Now I learn that they are the “wild sunflower-like” cutleaf coneflower. Are they related? Also, they ARE NOT resistant to deer browsing! I transplanted a dozen or so plants to a field next to my church which backs up to a park and a large natural area. The deer there LOVE them!
Hi Steve, it seems a lot of deer-resistant plants are only resistant until the deer get hungry!
We have had a patch of these for about 6 years now in Athens. Started from one 3″ pot, they now have spread to an area of about 12ft. diameter and are 8 ft. tall. Zero maintenance, max beauty and “bug” attractor beginning in mid-August. Tiger Swallowtails are nectaring now, along with a variety of bees and wasps. Silvery Checkerspot caterpillars seem to thrive on the foliage. ❤️
I planted one a year ago and this year it reached 8 feet with numerous blooms. It is definitely loved by the native pollinators. I was wondering if the seeds could result in plants that have reverted. I have seedlings all over that are growing into plants with rounder leaves (not cutleaf) but same size and stem structure. These plants to young to bloom.
Hi Harriet, perhaps the original plant died and these are seedlings? Ours have came back every season. We usually have to dig a few out. Hopefully you will have better results with it next season…
Are the rhizomes easy to pull out? TY
we haven’t hard a hard time in drier soil.
Since these are not hybridized or cultivated plants – they are native plants – there’s nothing got them to revert to. I think your seeing another species.
I have 2 plants that grow quite well. I have to spray for deer. They are native to the area. However, they have not bloomed in the 3 years since I put them I. The garden. Any ideas?
hi Jean, ours consistently puts out summer blooms with lots of late morning and afternoon sun.
great pollinator plant , no care , somewhat invasive. The first 2 years the deer browsed them right down.
We’ve been growing these for almost ten years in our community garden in Atlanta, now Zone 8. I consider them extremely invasive. However, they attract many bees of all kinds including honey bees, native bees, and bumble bees. We don’t see monarch butterflies here, wish we did, but fritillaries and swallowtails like these flowers. These plants are as bad as monarda for getting early summer mildew in our hot humid weather. I cut them way back, which means we no longer see many 8 foot flower stalks because they don’t have time to make up the growth. But still, plenty of flowers. Rampant reproduction is entirely by roots, not seed, so as far as I can tell. I can’t give them away, wish there was a market for them. It’s a beautiful plant, very strong and fast grower, loves rotted bark mulch soil but doesn’t seem to need much fertility.
Hi Debbie, we always pull out a few each spring, but they are so majestic in summer when they bloom and have become a monarch favorite in the garden. You should definitely have some monarch activity in your region….if the season continues to unfold as promising as it has started, don’t be surprised if you have some visitors this season. One preventative measure for mildew/fungus: try watering the soil and small pants with a hydrogen peroxide solution to see if that makes a difference:
hydrogen peroxide for the garden
I got one small plant years ago at home Depo now I have a yard full… They usually get up to seven foot tall if full sun…
This year first time… In hot dry weather mites….millions of red spider like mites up and down every flower stem….note it is late July and very dry this summer… Tried a home made spray of rubbing alcohol and flea tick soap……..OMG …. In just a few hours they were all dead dead…not worried about the plant tho as it is huge and sturdy ….but I have a lot of them around…. Also these are great behind any fountain grass , or any ormentiental grass that needs a tall centerpiece like a calvausack too…
………… Just wanted to share this is a great plant and such a long bloom time like black eyed Susan’s which also pair up nicely with this one….
Thanks Will for sharing your experience…much appreciated!
Thanks Tony! I only have about half a dozen plants and I have one lone wolf that had it too. Since it’s the end of the season, I’ll try next spring. Thanks again for your advice.
It’s my second season with the yellow coneflower and the leaves develope this white film on them, kinda like someone had white wash them. Is this normal for this plant or is it a kind of mold or did it contracted a disease??
Hi Rob, I have not experienced this on our plants but it sounds like it could be powdery mildew. This can be prevented by thinning out your plants and watering at ground level, as opposed to overhead.
A friend gave me a few cuttings 3 years ago and I have a beautiful stand of plants that last year got up to the roof line. Once they got established, they didn’t really require any extra care or water.
I love the flowers and the bees and butterflies they attract all summer. They’re in front of a window, so in the morning, I get to watch it as a shadow play on the closed blinds when the full morning sun is on that side. I’m planning to plant a group in front of the picture window on the side of the house that gets the afternoon sun this year and see how it goes.
Thanks for sharing your experience Kerri…good luck with your new plants!
Thanks for the note!
I am however in zone 10 so I don’t think I will try them.