Rudbeckia laciniata ‘Autumn Sun’

cutleaf coneflower Interesting Notes

‘Herbstsonne’ is an upright, rhizomatous, clump-forming perennial coneflower which typically grows 4-7′ tall. This is a substantial plant which features large daisy-like flowers (3-4″ across) with drooping yellow rays and elongated bright green center cones. Flowers bloom singly atop slender branching stems. Long summer bloom. Toothed, bright green leaves (3-6″ long). ‘Herbstsonne’ is varyingly sold as a cultivar of either Rudbeckia nitida or Rudbeckia laciniata, however some experts maintain that it is actually a hybrid between the two species. ‘Herbstsonne’ is synonymous with ‘Autumn Sun’. – Missouri Botanical Garden
Herbstsonne is a stately, more elegant member of the rudbeckia family. It is a big plant, growing 6′-7′ tall, and with a 3′-4′ spread. Its flowers are lemon yellow, rather than the more familiar gold of black-eyed susans. And the centers of these flowers are a fresh green, rather than dark brown or black (although, as the cones develop, they become more brown). Even when the flowers are not in bloom, the big foliage of this plant, growing about 5′ tall, is an impressive presence in the garden, making this what garden designers call an “architectural plant.” – From “Try This Rudbeckia!” by Jean Potuchek
The vertically unchallenged Rudbeckia ‘Herbstonne’ (also called R. nitida ‘Autumn Sun’) is a gem for the back of a border. It has large, gently lobed leaves and five-inch-wide blossoms. The yellow petals droop so that the green central cones stand up like noses. In my garden ‘Herbstonne’ grows happily in clay-based soil, rising seven to eight feet without any staking. Behind it, the deep green leaves of a tall cutleaf elderberry (Sambucus nigra f. laciniata) provide a good backdrop and make the coneflower’s inflorescence sparkle. – From “Ravishing Rudbeckia” by Barbara Blossom Ashmun, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Autumn Sun Coneflower

Rudbeckia ‘Herbstsonne’ or Autumn Sun Coneflower is a tough, well-behaved native that will help transform your summer garden into a paradise for pollinators.

  • Easy to grow
  • Very showy bright yellow flowers
  • Loved by butterflies and bees


  • 5 to 7 ft. tall
  • 3 to 4 ft. wide with a clump-forming habit
  • Robust and perennial with attractive cut-leaf foliage
  • Hardy in USDA hardiness zones 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9

Flowering period

In central North Carolina, flowering starts in July and continues for four to six weeks.

How to grow

Very adaptable. Autumn Sun Coneflower prefers moist soil, but will grow in a variety of soil types, including clay, and can tolerate periodic drought and flooding. Plants will be more compact when grown in the sun, but they produce plenty of blooms in part sun. The flowering stems are surprisingly sturdy and usually only require staking during wet growing seasons or if planted in overly fertile soil.

Care and maintenance

Cut the old stems back to the ground in late winter after the birds have eaten the seeds.

43-second video of pollinators feeding on Rudbeckia laciniata ‘Herbstsonne’

Where to plant

At the back of borders where it will create a dense mound of lush leaves that fill space and suppress weeds.

When to plant

It can be planted anytime the ground is not frozen. If planting in summer, keep plants well-watered until they get established.


When planting in a group, space plants about 3 ft. apart.

When will my plant flower?

Plants purchased and planted before May will flower their first year if placed in a well-prepared site and kept watered.

Source and origin

Plants are grown from division here at the nursery.

Herbstsonne translated from German means Autumn Sun which is likely in reference to when it blooms in Europe. The Royal Horticultural Society bestowed Rudbeckia laciniata ‘Herbstsonne’ with its Award of Garden Merit in 2002.

Rudbeckia Herbstonne

Rudbeckia laciniata ‘Herbstsonne’

Other names

Coneflower ‘Herbstsonne’, Rudbeckia ‘Autumn Sun’ , Rudbeckia nitida ‘Herbstsonne’ , Black-eyed Susan ‘Herbstsonne’



Variety or Cultivar

‘Herbstsonne’ _ ‘Herbstsonne’ is a vigorous, upright, deciduous perennial with pinnate leaves divided into three to five, prominently-veined, toothed, dark grey-green leaflets and branches stems bearing flowerheads with bright yellow florets and yellow-green central discs.

Native to

Garden origin




Clump-forming, Upright


RHS AGM (Award of Garden Merit)



Brown, Yellow in Summer; Yellow, Brown in Autumn

Green in Summer; Green in Autumn


Watch out for


Generally pest free.


Generally disease free.

General care


Deadhead regularly. Cut back in late autumn or early spring.

Propagation methods

Division, Seed


Rudbeckia laciniata ‘Herbstsonne’ (Coneflower ‘Herbstsonne’) will reach a height of 2.5m and a spread of 1m after 2-5 years.

Suggested uses

Cottage/Informal, Flower Arranging, Beds and borders, Low Maintenance, Prairie planting


Plant in moderately fertile, free-draining soil in a sunny or lightly shaded position.

Soil type

Chalky, Clay, Loamy

Soil drainage

Moist but well-drained, Well-drained

Soil pH

Acid, Alkaline, Neutral


Partial Shade, Full Sun


South, East, West


Exposed, Sheltered

Rudbeckia nitida ‘Herbstsonne’ – ​Glorious August-September blooming tall growing sun perennial with saturated golden flowers often in such abundance that the entire flowering part of the plant is a solid bright, deep yellow cloud. Though large Autumn Sun Shining Coneflower is clump forming; it is not a runner. This handsome plant is perfection with any of the Joe-pye Weeds, Butterfly Bushes and Ironweeds – all of which are very fine nectar providers for pollinators. Everyone should consider a mid to late summer assortment of these sun-loving perennials and shrubs in the garden, in a corner of a field or wherever your heart desires to help the bees, butterflies and others who are often brushed aside in our thoughts as unimportant. We have seen little or no difference between ‘Autumn Glory’ and ‘Herbstsonne’. They are both spectacular! The species is from Alabama, Georgia and Florida yet exhibits surprising genetic hardiness, USDA zones 5 to 8(9). We have seen some sites that indicate northern hardiness to USDA zone 3. Considering the nativity of the species we are waxing conservatively until we know with certainty if this information is truthful. Site in full sun planted in average to fertile, draining soil. Drought tolerant. Established pot grown plant from division.

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