Black-Eyed Susan

Ignite your garden with the floral fireworks of black-eyed Susan.

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Black Eyed Susan Provides Vivid Summer Color

Black Eyed Susan Provides Vivid Summer Color

Rudbeckia fulgida var. deamii , is perfect for the naturalistic prairie style planting schemes that are becoming popular. More drought-tolerant than most rudbeckias, it produces masses of yellow daisy-like flowers from mid-summer to mid-fall.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Tuck spots of living sunshine into your landscape with the cheery blooms of black-eyed Susan. Low-maintenance and lovely, black-eyed Susan flowers start opening in early summer and keep on coming until fall frost. Most black-eyed Susan plants are perennial, although some are short-lived at best. Happily, many black-eyed Susans self-sow readily, ensuring a continued presence in the garden. 

Black-eyed Susan plants boast sturdy constitutions, offering winter hardiness in Zones 3 to 10. Give this bright bloomer a spot in full sun, although in hottest regions, a little afternoon shade won’t hurt. Plants survive in a partly shade location, but flower number will be reduced. Black-eyed Susan isn’t picky about soil and thrives in average soil that drains well. 

This perky perennial, especially Rudbeckia fulgida, is drought-tolerant once established. Water newly-planted black-eyed Susans until they’re steadily showing new growth, then gradually reduce moisture. Black-eyed Susan makes a great addition to a low-maintenance, low water-use landscape. 

Plant plenty of black-eyed Susans and you’ll have ample blossoms to pick for bouquets. Black-eyed Susan flowers beckon pollinators by the dozen, including all kinds of bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Fuzzy, almost bristly leaves put black-eyed Susan on the do-not-disturb list for deer and rabbits. 

On average, black-eyed Susan plants grow 24 to 36 inches tall and wide. If plants are happy, they can spread somewhat aggressively with underground stems and self-sowing. Limit the spread by dividing clumps every four to five years. Snipping spent blooms in fall prevents self-seeding. But if you leave faded flowers in place, they’ll add winter interest to the landscape and attract seed-eating birds. 

Black-eyed Susan plants bring a coarse texture to the garden. Pair them with fine-textured ornamental grasses and prairie blazing star to mimic their native prairie environs. Black-eyed Susan comes into its own in autumn, making it a wonderful planting companion for Russian sage and autumn sedums. 

Look for black-eyed Susan flowers in a variety of sizes and colors. The common type, Rudbeckia fulgida, features the classic black-eyed Susan flower form, with a dark button center surrounded by a sunburst of golden petals. Gloriosa daisies (Rudbeckia hirta) open flowers with a blend of hues, including bronze, russet and orange. 'Prairie Sun' gloriosa daisy reveals a green center encircled with gold and yellow petals. 

If you like the look of black-eyed Susan flowers, don’t miss an annual vine that goes by the same name: black-eyed Susan vine. It opens trumpet-shaped blooms with gold, orange or white petals and, in most cases, a dark-colored throat. These vines are tropical natives and grow easily from seed, but need warm soil to take off.

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