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How to Grow and Care for Black-Eyed Susans

I'm a lazy gardener. I lead a busy life and need a garden that can be fine on its own for a few days. Enter Black-eyed Susans. These flowers are so easy to grow and maintain.


Last fall, I spread (tossed by the handful) native wildflower seeds along the sides of my backyard. I wanted a meadow vibe that would add color to my backyard throughout the hot Texas summer and didn't require much water. It was a total experiment, and I didn't know if it would come to fruition or not.


As you can see from the picture below, most of the wildflower seeds that sprouted were beautiful, bold Black-eyed Susan flowers.

Black-eyed Susans growing in a backyard.
Black-eyed Susans growing in my backyard.

In addition to being a lazy gardener, I'm also a beginner. In this post, I share the things I've learned to grow and care for Black-eyed Susans.


Black-Eyed Susan Flowers (Rudbeckia hirta)


  • Sunlight: Black-eyed Susan flowers love sunshine! Plant them in a location that receives full sun (at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day).


  • Soil: Well-drained soil is essential. They can tolerate poor soil conditions but thrive in moderately fertile soil.

  • Seeds: Sow seeds directly into the garden after the last frost. Plant seeds about 1/4 inch deep. I just tossed my seeds on the ground lightly stepped on them. I don't recommend taking that route if you want to ensure your plant grows in a designated location and avoid overcrowding.


  • Transplants: If starting indoors, plant seeds 6-8 weeks before the last frost. Transplant seedlings when they are large enough to handle and after the danger of frost has passed. To help the seedlings acclimate to outside temps, put them outside in a shady spot for a day or two before planting in the ground.


  • Water regularly to establish the plants. Once established, Black-Eyed Susans are drought-tolerant and only need occasional watering. If you can, try watering them at the base of the plant rather than overhead. This will reduce evaporation and will help keep the petals looking pretty.


  • Fertilize lightly. Too much fertilizer can cause the plants to grow too tall and flop over. I haven't fertilized my Black-eyed Susans, yet, and they're around 36" tall.


  • Deadhead spent flowers to encourage more blooms and extend the blooming period.


  • Check for pests such as aphids and treat as needed.


  • Mulch around the base of the plants to retain moisture and suppress weeds.


  • Divide clumps every 3-4 years in early spring or late fall to prevent overcrowding.


Here's a picture of what happens when the plants are too close and overcrowded, so I've started thinning them.


Overcrowded Black-eyed Susans.
Overcrowded Black-eyed Susans growing in my backyard.



I'm also trying to grow a Black-eyed Susan vine. I started the plants from seed, and they haven't grown much or flowered yet.


Black-Eyed Susan Vine (Thunbergia alata)


Care for a Black-eyed Susan vine is like caring for Black-eyed Susan flowers. However, unlike perennial Black-eyed Susan flowers, the annual Black-eyed Susan vine needs partial afternoon shade.


I started three Black-eyed Susan vines from seeds I bought on Amazon. Below is a picture of one of the seedlings after its transplant to a flower box. It's not growing as quickly as I thought it would. I'm guessing it has to do with the soil and will be taking a trip to my local nursery to buy a bag of soil to enrich the soil that's already in the box.


Black-eyed Susan Vine Seedling
Black-eyed Susan Vine Seedling


Happy gardening!


 

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