Post last updated: October 10th, 2018

Well, almost a silent Sunday. I do need to say a few words. I am, after all, of the female persuasion and females are never at a loss for words.

The first time I ever saw this plant was last October at the Mandarin Garden Center. I was there for a Duval County Extension Agent class on Fall Gardening. At the end of the class, to our surprise, the Mandarin Garden Club offered each of us a free plant. You don’t have to ask me twice about a free plant.

After touring their gardens, I chose a rudbeckia longifolia (Rudbeckia nitida var. longifolia, known more commonly as Shining Coneflower or Shiny Coneflower) in a one-gallon pot.  I now understand why they had a few pots of it on hand to give away. It spreads in the most amazing fashion. If I had to dig it up today, it would probably fill a dozen one-gallon pots. No, I’m not kidding.

The leaves are so attractive that even when the plant is not in bloom, it provides interesting foliage.

Leaves are shiny because of rain
Leaves are shiny because of rain

Mandarin Garden Center’s rudbeckia longifolia was already in bloom in early August. Mine waited until mid-September to bloom and it is just glorious. The delicate petals waft on the breeze like butterflies. It’s another one of those bug-gitters, too. If you’ll look towards the back of the flower on the far left side, you’ll see a bug.

rudbeckia longifolia
rudbeckia longifolia
rudbeckia longifolia buds
rudbeckia longifolia buds beginning to petal

What do you mean you can’t see the bug? Oh all right, I’ll blow him up for you.

rudbeckia longifolia with bug
rudbeckia longifolia with bug

CORRECTION: This does seem to be available through plant nurseries under the name Rudbeckia nitidia ‘Herbstsonne’.


  1. Wow. I’ll have to look for one. Does it survive the winter, meaning does it stay green all winter or die back and come back in the Spring?

    1. Meta – You won’t find it at the nurseries. It is a Florida native plant now considered endangered. Only way to get it, most likely, is as a pass-along plant like I got mine. I’m sure you’ve got “friends” like that. I can’t remember if it died back in the winter. I’ll have to ask some of the MGCers.

      1. After looking it up, I don’t really want it. I have a similar plant that I was told is a “Mexican Sunflower.” It gets to be about 15 to 20 feet tall. Very showy. It gets the attention of every one driving by. Since the flowers are that high up I can’t really tell what kind of “visitors” the flowers get.

        1. Okay, no longifolia for you. Thanks for this post, though. You reminded me what question I wanted to ask Nell Jean — whether or not the Mexican Sunflower could be pinched in its early growth to keep it from being so stratopheric. Can we get a photo of YOUR Mexican Sunflower. At 15 to 20 feet, that’s practically a tree!

  2. Love this and believe it would help my back yard look lovely. Hint,hint. Ready for an “after” photo by the way. I wonder, too, if this plant dies back each winter. I will try to google it. Wonder also what the every day name is. If it is native, I’m sure there is one or two.

  3. I thought my 7-foot Mexican Sunflowers were something. Are we speaking of the same plant? What I call Mexican Sunflower is Tithonia, with bright orange blooms. There is a yellow Swamp Sunflower, Helianthus angustifolius, that gets considerably taller, also a passalong plant.

    The answer to the question about pinching is, I haven’t pinched Tithonia. What does frequently happens is that one or two fall over and grow side stems upward so they’re only 2 or 3 feet all. Makes the bed look better. There is a dwarf Tithonia ‘Fiesta del Sol’ that I would use if height mattered here. As soon as Gulf Muhly grass comes into bloom I am pulling all the Tithonia.

    1. Nell Jean – Thanks for coming over here to answer my Mexican Sunflower/Tithonia question. I have that yellow Swamp Sunflower, too. Way too much of it, in fact, because it spreads with wild abandon. I’m tempted to pull most of it. Will pull my Tithonia, too, because I don’t want dead stalks sitting in such a prominent location all winter. I’m tempted to buy that Fiesta del Sol even though the “orange” seems dull in comparison to the giant Tithonia I have. Unless it’s just a bad photo. While I want the “cottage” flower garden look, I still want it looking neat.

  4. I too love having all 3 of these plants in my cottage style butterfly garden: Shining Coneflower, Mexican Sunflower & Swamp Sunflower. My spot where I grown them has very bad soil & all day blasting full sun. These 3 plants are good doers for me in these difficult conditions. In about July I cut the Swamp Sunflower down to about 2 feet so it won’t get so darn tall.

    1. Hi Susan! I wish more people would cut their Swamp Sunflower. There’s a place down the road from me that doesn’t. The things get ten feet tall and then their whole garden is out of proportion. Did you know there is a yellow Mexican Sunflower? I saw it on Swallowtail Seeds.

Say something, will you? Your comment will appear after it is approved.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.