‘Outhouse plant’

outhouse plant

Kathy over at ColdClimateGardening correctly ID’d one of the mystery flowers in my August bloom day scans as Rudbeckia ‘Golden Glow’. I got this heirloom passalong plant from a neighbor a few years ago, and never knew what it was.

It goes by many names, including Rudbeckia laciniata ‘Hortensis’, ‘Golden Drop’, outhouse plant, or (my personal favorite) shithouse daisy. I read somewhere that hollyhocks were favored as outhouse plants so that Victorian ladies could discretely ask where they could find the hollyhocks when they had to go.

outhouse plant

Select Seeds has a good description:

Gardeners were amazed by this sensational double rudbeckia when it burst on the scene circa 1897. “I was delighted with the fullness and gorgeousness of the blossoms and their clear bright yellow color. It grew vigorously, and threw up strong, branching flower stems six feet high, laden with sheaves of golden blossoms as large as fair chrysanthemums…” says a horticulturalist from that era. Once a common ‘outhouse flower’ for screening the privy, it is fabulous grown with purple asters for late summer and fall bloom.

outhouse plant

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29 thoughts on “‘Outhouse plant’”

  1. Craig,

    I love this plant. It used to grow along the fence of my house where I grew up in Northern Idaho. I have since seen it a couple of times, but didn’t know what it wasy called or where to find it. Thanks to you and to KP for the mention of it and the identification.

  2. Wow… it’s so tall! I like the orange-y yellow color of the flowers, but add in the wonderful height and it really does it for me. I’m glad that you included Fred for scale–okay, I always like to see pics of Fred, I admit. :)

  3. Kim: Yeah, I like pix of Fred, too.

    The long shot with Fred is closest to the color it actually looks like most of the time. The others ended up off a little because I took them at a different time with different (weird) light and I think I overdid it with PhotoShopping.

  4. Pam, in the winter it is snowing and blowing, and no one is going out except to do their business as quick as they can, and I’m sure they used chamber pots at night. Hooray for indoor plumbing! I’m not sure whether privies were moved on a regular basis to a new location. If they were, then one wouldn’t want to use evergreen shrubs to do the screening.

  5. Kathy: I lived at one house that still had an outhouse. (As well as indoor plumbing and the outhouse was joost for pretty as they say in Pennsylvania Dutch country.) And have visited several other houses with similar set-ups. Most all of the outhouses were on very well-built foundations (concrete or stone and mortar) with access doors for cleaning out. (Now there’s a fun chore.) Maybe privies out at ‘camps’ in the woods are built over shallow holes and moved often. But around houses, they were engineered to work and last. That said, I’ve never actually seen one that matches one of my favorite descriptions: Built like a brick outhouse.

  6. Hmmm. I like it. I like that it is tall – I find that with a house on stilts tall things, regardless of where they are in my garden, just look better. Does the dog come with the packet of seeds? Not that I need another dog or anything.

  7. i have been told that i have “shithouse daisies” but mine look different they have a more daisy like appearance with a brown center and yellow petals. their leaves also form v’s that water collects in any ideas on what they might be?

  8. I think I might have this plant in my yard. Does this plant have new shoots every year and could take over if not cut back? Also are the flowers like mums or daisies? My plant/bush has flowers like a mum and leafs that are lobed and serrated. Any help I could get identifying it would be great. Thanks.

  9. I just realized I posted a response to Amanda, not Dawn–Sorry for the confusion! Dawn–yes, what you have may be the outhouse daisy/plant–if you can view the pics on this page, the flowers do resemble mums. There is not a good shot of the leaves, but, yes, they are lobed and serrated. Like I said in the previous post, they do creep by the roots, and I suppose they could take over–but I just dig ’em out and share them with friends to keep them in check….:)

  10. Ok, to add to an already confused state—Ignore the first sentence in my last post and also the phrase, “Like I said in the previous post” — long story short, a post I thought I submitted didn’t get posted–thus more confusion. SORRY!! Whew!

  11. lori,
    thank you so much, i looked up cup plants, and thats what i have!! I have been looking for 2 years for that answer!!!! they are jokingly called “shithouse deck daisies” at my house, we use them to camoflage our ugly deck!!

  12. I know how it is to FINALLY figure out the name of a ‘mysterious’ plant or flower that you’ve been searching for…So, glad I could help:)
    Happy gardening:)

  13. Finally I know what the flowers I have are!!! I moved into a house with these in the yard and I’ve never known what they are. I’ve started digging some up every spring because they *do* take over, and it should be easier to deal with ‘staking’ them so that they don’t all fall over in August.

  14. This tall flower grows like mad. I transplanted atleast 350 plants last year. It is just about to flower. Some of the plants are 12-15 feet in height

  15. That is the finest version of Rudbeckia lanciata “Goldquelle” aka “outhouse Plant”I have ever seen. Where did you buy them? Lance in Madison

  16. I’d like to buy some of the roots or seeds of the Golden Glow flower.If anyone knows where to get them, please post. I’ve tried Baker Creek ( http://www.rareseeds.com ), Burpee, and Park Seed Company. Not available at these places.

  17. Love this plant. Mother always had some and I’d love to find it again. Does anyone know where it can be purchased?

  18. @Jeff: Jeff, I grow several exotic plants but this one eludes me. For such a beautiful Rudbeckia, it is exceedingly hard to find. Would you be willing to part with a few plants or seeds? I’d be willing to pay for the plants and shipping of course. Please reply to my email address whether yes or no. Thank you for considering my desperate request. :)

  19. I was excited to find out that the “yellow flowers” as we have called them for years, is a double Rudbeckia. Can anyone tell me the correct way to deal with them when they are done blooming and drying up? I have handled it different ways and it doesn’t seem to hurt them, but I would like to know the correct way.
    Also my flowers don’t act like a ground cover and multiply, so how do I get more plants?
    Appreciate any help!

  20. my family home had these growimg out back of the house in maine. they grow around most old homes. i’ve mainly seen them in central maine. i plan a trip home to bring some back to n.c. to plant around my new chicken house. hope they grow here

  21. I grew up with these beauties. I finally found some for my own yard just last year. Last summer they were beautiful, but this year the flowers are still pretty but all of them have lost their leaves from the ground up. About 3 feet. I’m desperately looking for a why? And what I can do about it. I truly love these flowers as they remind me of my mom.
    Thank you, and please help if you can.

  22. My plants are 7-8′ tall and healthy, but the lower leaves curl and turn brown also. It doesn’t seem to trouble the rest of the stalk/plant though. I just rub the dead leaves off. I always leave the stalks for tall interest in the winter yard, and they remain tall and intact even though we have 100km winds and blizzards. In the spring I cut them and bundle them for a dry arrangement on the deck until other plants fill out.

  23. My plants are also about 7-8 ‘ tall and very reliable coming back every year for the last 30 years. I find they are top heavy and need to be staked because they are not leaning against an out house. Does anyone else find the stems a little weak?

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