How to Grow Rudbeckia Cherry Brandy

Rudbeckia hirta Cherry Brandy is a fabulously glamorous plant. With huge crimson red blooms with a hint of golden brandy colouring and a long flowering period these plants are a great addition to the late summer garden. They are brilliant for cut flowers, to attract bees and butterflies or simply enjoy them in your beds and borders.

Rudbeckia are easy to grow from seed. They are Half Hardy Annuals so they are best started off indoors. If you love these plants I recommend sowing twice, first at the beginning of March and then again at the end of April. Plant out the well established young plants when all danger of frost has passed and the soil is warm… usually from May inwards here in the UK. Then you’ll have lots of glamorous flowers all summer long from July until the first frosts in October.

Cherry Brandy Rudbeckias grow to around 60cm / two feet tall so it’s great for the front of a border where you can allow it to encroach on your garden path if you like that natural relaxed look. Alternatively grow three plants in a large container in a sunny spot… make sure they don’t dry out or your plants will suffer, they love moist soil.

You may know Rudbeckias as the Cone Flower or Black Eyed Susan. Both of these common names describe the distinctive button centre of these flowers which is usually dark brown or black. As the flowers age the centre becomes raised forming a cone. Like most Half Hardy Annuals these are lovely plants to grow for late summer and autumn flowers in your garden. They will go on flowering until the first frosts and your bees and butterflies will love them too.

Plant Name                 Rudbeckia hirta ‘Cherry Brandy’

Plant Type                   Half Hardy Annual

Height & Spread        60cm/2 feet Tall x 30cm/1 foot wide

Sow Seeds                   Sow seeds indoors in March and April at 16°C-18°C and cover lightly. Grow on in 9cm pots. Plant outside after the last frosts from May onwards 30cm/1 foot apart.

Conditions Required   Rudbeckia like full sun and moist but well drained soil. Make sure that the soil does not dry out or your plants will suffer

Flower Production       Rudbeckia Cherry Brandy takes 12-14 weeks from seed to flower then produces blooms for a good three months.

Picking                         Pick flowers and dead head regularly to encourage production of new blooms.  Cut flowers last up to ten days in a vase if you change the water frequently.

Plant Combinations     The deep red blooms of Rudbeckia Cherry Brandy combine beautifully with autumn grasses and other Rudbeckias such as the golden yellow Rudbeckia Irish Eyes and Rudbeckia Marmalade.


Are you growing Rudbeckia this year?  I’d love to know what you think about these long flowering plants. Which is your favourite?  

Growing information for many seeds is freely available at in the SHOP and on the RESOURCES page.


Papaver nudicaule Champagne Bubbles

Summer is the time to sow Iceland Poppies and here are my favourites right now. I love this new variety Papaver nudicaule ‘Champagne Bubbles’. They really are the most beautiful flowers to grow from seed. Poppy seeds are so tiny it’s hard to believe that such beautiful blooms are produced in just a few months. I was completely blown away by the large colourful flowers when I took these photos in April in my greenhouse. They have gorgeous open papery blooms which open like crumpled silk. Flowers are all shades of orange, pink, yellow, red and white. They are extremely hardy and will tolerate cold winters. Flowers are produced in late spring and early summer before the rest of the garden really gets going. I’m always looking for some early plants for my garden and these fit the bill beautifully. If you’re looking for some colour in your garden in spring and early summer too then Iceland Poppies may be just the thing for you.

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Growing Biennials from Seed

Now is the time to sow Biennial Seeds. But what exactly are they and why do we need to sow them in summer?

What are Biennials?

Biennials are hardy plants which are grown from seeds sown this summer. They produce roots and foliage this year then burst into life next spring with masses more foliage, long stems and lots of flowers in late spring and early summer. Sown this summer they have eight to ten months to grow into super strong, healthy plants.

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Looking Good 20th May

Foxgloves are just coming into bloom in our garden. They are woodland plants really. Their large leaves make the most of all the available sunlight so they can grow in shady areas so they are brilliant if you have dappled shade in your garden.

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What is Stratification?

Larkspur-Sublime-MixedSome seeds such as Aquilegia and Larkspur become dormant when collected and stored. In the garden our usual winter weather is all it takes to break the seeds dormancy and trigger germination. Moisture in the soil and frost action both help to break down the hard seed coat so that shoots and roots can grow.

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How to grow Foxgloves

Foxgloves have performed very well for us this year. I grew them from seed and planted them around the oak tree and my garden studio in the spring garden. I also planted a big patch at the edge of the Bluebell wood – they flowered twice, as usual in spring and then quite unexpectedly again in autumn. You can cut the flower stalks right back when you tidy your garden in autumn and some people like to remove the plants as soon as flowering is over. As you know I prefer to leave some seed heads on my plants so that tiny creatures have hiding places and seeds to eat over winter. And here’s my bonus. 

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A good year in the garden

scabiosa-squareThis week I have heard several complaints about this summer in the UK. Whilst I agree that it wasn’t a patch on last year regarding high temperatures I can’t agree that it’s been a bad year for gardens. Here’s why:

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How to Grow Sweet Peas

Pastel-Sweet-PeasThere are some plants I wouldn’t like to be without in my garden. Lathyrus odoratus commonly known as Sweet Peas are right at the top of my list. They were the first seeds I ever sowed in the garden of our first home. Growing them got me started gardening and I have grown them every year since then. If you are new to growing Sweet Peas then please take the hint from me and have a go! They are easy to grow and very hardy so you can’t go wrong.

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Got your shades on?

Cosmos ThumbnailDwarf Cosmos in profusion growing in a nearby garden had me reaching for both my camera and sunglasses today!
A bed of orangey-red geraniums right behind added to the eye watering effect.
What a traffic stopper!

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Super Sweet Peas

Sweet Peas ThumbnailDid you know that one wigwam of Sweet Peas will give you a bunch of flowers every day? All you have to do is remember to pick them regularly to prevent the plants setting seed. They are one of the most beautiful scented productive flowers I know and well worth growing. Each year I grow a few new varieties to see which I like best of all.

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