Weigh in on the “National Flower” Debate


It started with Burpee owner George Ball declaring that "The Rose Blows", and campaigning to have the sunflower declared our national flower instead.  Then Judy Lowe took issue with Ball's description of the U.S. as "botanically barren." (Yeah, I wondered about that myself.)  And Tom Alexander added to the story this tidbit: seed-growers lobbied for marigolds but narrowly last to the rose back in the '80s when the flower-naming took place.  Veddy interesting.

So here's my contribution to the debate:  Yes, lots of roses DO blow and I can't imagine growing the sickly ones.  So if we want a plant that's always easy to grow, I nominate  a flower just as cheerful as the sunflower but far more garden-sized – the rudbeckia species, especially the medium-sized Black-eyed Susan.  Not coincidentally, Maryland's state flower.  And not usually grown from seed – sorry, George!



  1. I had no idea that the US and England had the same national flower – seems a bit odd, that. Coneflowers (Echinacea) would be another candidate, perhaps (as far as I can see, they haven’t already been claimed at State level!).

  2. I love roses, especially the non-florist, hybrid tea types, and I don’t like rudbekia which seems so unruly. Or is that another reason for making it the American flower?

  3. Susan, You’re right. Once established, Rudbeckias are durable and gardeners can easily divide them. But commercially, they are primarily grown from seed.

  4. I agree. Rudbeckias are wonderful additions to any sunny garden, meadows, and rain gardens. They are ridiculously easy to grow and are attractive to birds, butterflies, and humans.

  5. Only certain roses blow–namely, all those bred after about 1920.

    Rudbekias depress me. Weedy, not elegant. I’d prefer the orange roadside daylily.

  6. Sunflowers are native, and do like to dominate by killing other plants attempting to grow around them – does sound like a good choice, I suppose?

  7. Forget those roses…my vote goes for The Susans …they grow naturally in every state but two….and I suspect that gardeners in those states grow them in their gardens!

  8. As a country of immigrants, it would be nice to choose a species that has become a part of the landscape but is not native. My vote is for the dandelion! If every American started to see the dandelion as a plant and not a nuisance it would be wonderful for our country and its resources.

  9. I like Rudbeckias, but I vote for Solidago. It grows everywhere, it looks great and the only downside I can think of is that it’s not red, white and blue.

  10. The sunflower has a history of usage by Native American groups. It would be nice to choose a national flower that goes back to the earliest gardeners on the continent.

  11. Well, there are some great flowers named and proposed here and while I like coneflowers better than black-eyed susans, I’ll concede to the BES this time, because it’s my husband’s favorite flower and he never gets what he wants.

  12. I say we should nominate a flower native to our continent and grows in most USDA zones (zones 2-10 or 3-9?), and therefore enjoyed in most states. We do have a few of our own native roses, but flowers such as one of our native dogwoods, a southern magnolia, Rudbeckia, native rhodies or any number of native species found in the U.S./North America (remember, seeds do not obey arbitrary national borders that have changed over the centuries) would be great candidates. Let’s all check out the list of 50 state flowers for inspiration: http://www.50states.com/flower.htm

  13. I vote for Rudbeckia. In Houston’s 100 degree heat this summer, these golden beauties still look fresh and cheerful. I was just admiring them at a nearby development entrance and thought “why didn’t I plant these at my mailbox this year?”

  14. I suggest Cannabis: mellow afterthoughts, lacey foliage, agressive expansionist growth strategy, renewable, a cash crop and just what we need after 8 years of a president who caouldn’t find his viagra

    the TROLL

  15. LOL Troll!

    Ahh….American Beauty rose – – NOT.

    How about looking to see which native plant grows in the MOST Zones of US?

    Goldenrod??? Aster??? Something that can grow along train tracks and roadways!

    Daffodils (recently became Manhattan’s “official” the Manhattan Botanical Gardens’ was Aster novi-belgi.

  16. I vote for the sunflower, it comes in a wide variety of sizes and colors, just like the US of A. Sunflowers are often tall with big heads, but keep them humbly bowed on strong stems. The heritage of a sunflower nods to those who were here long before explorers from across the pond discovered the new land, and sunflowers just make people smile.

  17. Knockout Rose grows anywhere, blooms almost non-stop, is disease tolerant, comes in several colors. If we are going to stay with Rose that is the one to grow.

  18. Well, I enjoyed reading your post. I agree with you, “a plant that’s always easy to grow, is sunflower but far more garden-sized – the rudbeckia species, especially the medium-sized Black-eyed Susan.” I also sunflower in our garden. Thanks for sharing this post.


Comments are closed.