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Planting and Growing Black-Eyed Susans

I have enjoyed gardening for at least 30 years and enjoy sharing my experience with others. Gardening is my time to meditate and unwind.

A field full of black-eyed Susans.

A field full of black-eyed Susans.

A Popular and Beautiful Flower

Black-eyed Susans deserve a spot in every flower garden. They are relatives of both asters and sunflowers and are one of the most popular plants to grow. Since they reseed so easily, they can be found in all of the continental 48 states except Utah and Nevada. They can also be seen growing in Canada.

The wild flower is smaller than the hybridized ones. When I was a child in Ohio, I remember them growing wild along our ditch bank. The flowers were only about as big around as a quarter. The newer varieties are much larger.

There are several varieties of rudbeckia. This plant is from the Asteraceae family and goes by the name of rudbeckia hirta. Some varieties are classified as annual and others as biennials or short-lived perennials. If you grow them, it is a good idea to let them reseed themselves or help them along and plant some seeds yourself. Then you'll have plenty of plants, and new plants will appear year after year.

A beautiful rudbeckia hirta.

A beautiful rudbeckia hirta.

Reasons to Plant

  1. Rudbeckia attracts both butterflies and hummingbirds.
  2. With their bright colors, they make a stand of beautiful color in the garden.
  3. The plants are deer- and rabbit-resistant. Their hairy stems and leaves aren't pleasant to eat.
  4. They make an excellent cut flower.
  5. They are drought-resistant and easy to grow.
  6. If desired, they work well as a dried flower.
  7. The birds enjoy the seeds in the winter months.

Attributes of Black-Eyed Susans

  1. This rudbeckia will thrive in USDA zones 3-7.
  2. The flowers are bright yellow with brown to black centers. The exception is the variety Irish Eyes with its green center. They are 2 to 3 inches across.
  3. The leaves and stems are hairy and scratchy.
  4. Height is 2-3 feet.
  5. It will spread 1-2 feet.
  6. If you keep the plant deadheaded, it will bloom from June through September.
  7. The stems are 2 to 3 feet in height.
  8. Most plants will survive for about three years. If you allow them to reseed themselves, you will have all the rudbeckias you could want. Just leave the seeds for the birds to eat and to blow in the wind to reseed themselves.
This is a black-eyed Susan with double petals and a brown halo.

This is a black-eyed Susan with double petals and a brown halo.

How to Plant Black-Eyed Susans

Planting From Seed

  1. For an early start, the seed may be planted indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date.
  2. If planting seed directly into the soil, wait until the last frost date in your area.
  3. Well drained soil is best. Make sure the soil is moist when you plant the seeds.
  4. Plant in part shade to full sun. Full sun is preferred.
  5. Sow the seeds. Cover seed lightly with soil. They need light to germinate.
  6. You'll need to wait for up to a month before you will see the seeds sprout out of the ground. In ideal conditions, it can take as little as a week.

Transplanting Rudbeckia

  1. Make a hole a little larger and deeper than the container the plant is in.
  2. If the plant is rootbound, gently tear the outside roots a little and spread them out to encourage growth.
  3. As long as the soil is already well-drained, you can just place the plant in the soil and mound dirt around it. Rich soil isn't a necessity for Black-eyed Susans.
  4. Water the plant, and wait for it to grow.

How to Care for Rudbeckia

  1. Water the plants if the soil is dry.
  2. Keep flowers deadheaded for bloom into September.
  3. Thin out plants if needed.
  4. Check for any disease or pests.

Redbeckia Varieties to Try

Variety NameColorsHeight and Width

Autumn Colors

This brown-eyed flower has yellow/gold blossoms that are flushed with bronze, rust, red, and orange shades. It is known for having the largest bloom of any of the Black-eyed Susans.

20-23" tall and 10-12" wide

Cherokee Sunset

This plant has double blooms and gold petals mixed with orange and yellow.

27-29" tall and 12-16" wide

Cherry Brandy

Flowers have black centers and deep maroon to cherry red petals.

20-24" tall and 12-16" wide

Denver Daisy

The flowers have a brown center, which is circled by mahogany brown circle of color. The petals are golden.

18-20" tall and 12-18" wide

Goldrush

Goldrush is considered the heaviest bloomer of all of the rudbeckias. The plant has big beautiful blooms. The blossoms are double and golden yellow. This variety is best planted as an annual.

16-34" tall and 18-24" wide

Sonora

The bloom has large golden petals with a black center. The black center is surrounded by a big, brown eye.

12-16" tall and 12 -18" wide

Comments

Joanne on May 10, 2019:

Hi, won't the birds, squirrels and chipmunks eat all the seeds as they fall?

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on June 29, 2018:

Peggy, Thanks for reading. I collected them as child in Ohio. It makes me wonder how many children do this.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 29, 2018:

I used to pick wild varieties when I was a child in Wisconsin. These are such bright and cheerful looking flowers. Thanks for giving us more information about them.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on June 28, 2018:

Linda, Thanks for viewing. Can you grow them where you are at? Parts of Canada can.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on June 27, 2018:

I love black-eyed Susans. They have such bright and beautiful flowers. Thanks for sharing the useful information about planting them and the facts about the different varieties.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on June 27, 2018:

Donna, Thanks for reading. I wasn't aware of all the varieties myself until I started doing some research. I've always had the plain gold with a black eye one. Now it gives me a good excuse to purchase some more plants.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on June 27, 2018:

Flourish, I like the time of year they bloom. Almost everything else is finished for the summer and these add a bright spot. Thanks for reading.

Barbara Badder (author) from USA on June 27, 2018:

Mary, Thanks for reading. The bright colors can give a bit of a pep me up.

Donna Herron from USA on June 27, 2018:

I love Black-Eyed Susans but never knew there were so many varieties and differences. Thanks so much for all this information about the choices and care for growing them. I'm excited to add some of these beauties to my yard. Pinning to my gardening board!

FlourishAnyway from USA on June 26, 2018:

These are some of my favorite flowers but I have never tried growing them. They are simple and bright and eye catchingly gorgeous.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on June 26, 2018:

They do add colour to the garden and easy to grow. They mke me feel happy when I see them.