Commonly referred to as black-eyed-Susan, rudbeckia is a daisy-like flower with golden yellow petals and a dark center that grows wild along roadsides and in ditches across North America. There are 25 species of rudbeckia, ranging in size from 1 foot to 3 feet in height and showing marked variations in petal color from pale yellow to gold. Saving seed from rudbeckia preserves the species and provides ample supplies of seeds for growing rudbeckia in the garden.
Select healthy, robust plants with the characteristics you prefer. Look for sturdy stems, well-formed blooms and rich colors. Consider the blooming time, as this characteristic is likely to be passed in the seed.
Allow the flower to fade and petals to drop. The dark center will be plump and erect, deepening in color as it matures. Watch for a brown stem to indicate that seeds are ripe.
Pick the heads and spread them out on a newspaper or on paper towels. Place in a well-ventilated area to dry completely for four to five days.
Hold the seed head over an open bag and rub with your fingers to loosen the seeds. Rudbeckia seeds are deep brown or black and appear like small splinters. Seeds will settle to the bottom of the bag.
Remove the chaff from the seeds by hand and place seeds in an airtight food storage bag or seed packet. Label the bag with a permanent marker and store the seeds in a cool dark area until planting time in spring.