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7 Black-Eyed Susans for a Colorful Garden

Complete guide to Plant, Grow, and care for your Black-eyed Susans

In this article, you will find an in depth guide to 7 Black-eyed Susans for your garden or back yard. Named for their striking dark, brown-purple centers, they add pockets of striking color to gardens all over North America. The tall plants often reach 3 feet in height, with the brightly colored flowers suspended from stalks over 8-inches long.

The large, vibrantly colored petals attract bees, butterflies, birds, and beneficial insects to the garden to assist with pollination. 

Blooming season is from June to October. They are an attractive choice for cut flowers and grow well in containers to bring color to a deck or patio.

Gardeners love black-eyed Susans for their dependability. They are durable and hardy, so it’s no surprise that plant breeders have been spending some time developing exciting new cultivars for livening up a garden.

The hard work is paying off, and gardeners can now enjoy black-eyed Susans in a variety of shades and colors for even more versatility in the garden. Here’s a rundown on what’s available, so be sure to ask your nursery about the bold new varieties.

Black-Eyed Susan Shades of Autumn

Shades of rusty orange, burgundy, and bronze enhance the signature yellow shade of black-eyed Susan for a distinctive autumn vibe. Rudbeckia hirta ‘Autumn Colors’ is a highly floriferous variety. Typically producing flowers up to 5-inches across, the brightly colored plant is sure to catch the eye.

Black-Eyed Susan Prairie Sun

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Prairie Sun’ produces yellow flowers decorated with glowing rays of orange that taper to a delicate yellow tip around a light green center. The long-lasting flowers are a firm favorite, so it’s no surprise this variety took the prize as the All-America Selection winner in 2003. 

Black-Eyed Susan Green Wizard

The tall, black cones resembling a decorated wizard’s hat produces barely visible, tiny yellow petals on a base of grey-green sepals. Green Wizard is a favorite for bees, but the unique architecture of the flower will certainly add an interesting highlight to your garden or as part of a dried arrangement.

Black-Eyed Susan Cherry Brandy

Dark burgundy petals surrounding a dark chocolate center taper off into crimson hues spotted with rusty speckles in this striking cultivar. This black-eyed Susan has an extended blooming season that will decorate your garden from early summer all the way to fall.

While other plants are beginning to fade, you can rely on Cherry Brandy to continue with the show.

Black-Eyed Susan Cappuccino

Four-inch flower heads with a chocolate brown center disk are surrounded by petals in shades of bronze that bleed into distinctive yellow tips. Black-Eyed Susan’s cappuccino variety produces some of the earliest blooms, so you can get your garden off to a brilliant start at the beginning of the season that will last all summer.

Black-Eyed Susan Prairie Glow

The prairie glow cultivar is a relatively short-lived variety but rewards you with masses of blooms from late summer to early fall. The fiery, brown-eyed wheels of orange petals fading into golden-yellow tips produce a stunning display when planted in mass. The masses of blooms create a haven for butterflies and bees.

Black-Eyed Susan Cherokee Sunset

The Cherokee Sunset is a glorious achievement for plant breeders. Large golden semidouble and double blooms are a distinctive mix of yellow, bronze, and mahogany to create a warm blend of colorful happiness in your garden. The extensive color variations make the Cherokee Sunset a fantastic addition to flower arrangements. It’s a slower bloomer than other cultivars, so you can use it to spread color throughout the season.

Black Eyed Susan Growing Tips

You can populate your garden with perennial, annual, or biennial black-eyed Susans, but the growing requirements for all of them are similar.

Use a low-nitrogen, slow-release fertilizer to encourage a stronger showing of flower heads. Spread the fertilizer during sowing for best results.

Most black-eyed Susan cultivars are sun-loving varieties, but we recommend a little afternoon shade to keep the blooms looking fresh for longer.

The plants are susceptible to powdery mildew, so incorporate adequate airflow in your garden design to prevent an outbreak. Grow them in a well-ventilated area and be sure to include adequate separation between the plants.

Your black-eyed Susans will attract snails and slugs, so keep an eye out for them, especially during the early stages.

Growing Black-Eyed Susans in Pots or Containers

If you’ve got some dull areas on your patio or deck that could use a splash of color during the warmer months, you can grow black-eyed Susans in pots or containers.

Larger containers will reward you with more blooms so select at least a 1-gallon (4L) container. A black-eyed Susan will reach heights of between 1 and 3 feet tall, so pots that have weight will provide you with stability if the wind picks up.

If you’re using lightweight pots, add a few handfuls of gravel or small stones to weigh them down.

Your plants will need good drainage to avoid root rot.

Not all black-eyed Susan varieties will do well in pots, so only select varieties specifically developed for pot growing. Otherwise, use Rudbeckia hirta or fulgida, because these varieties have fibrous roots more suited to shallow environments.

Plants that are in full sun in a well-drained pot will most likely need daily watering during summer. You can easily tell if they need moisture by poking your finger into the soil.

Black-eyed Susans are generally very hardy, but they are more suited to hardiness zones 3 – 9. If your zone is a little more extreme, such as 3 – 5 for instance, you may need to move your pot to a protected area during the winter. You could also try surrounding a pot with blankets or leaves to help the plant get through the colder months.

Garden Tasks for March

Lawn mower blades grow dull with use, and when they get too blunt, they can rip and tear instead of cut. Your grass will be more disease resistant if your mower can cut cleanly with sharpened blades. Have your blades sharpened at least once every couple of years.

Your roses will appreciate a freshening up of the mulch underneath after winter. The new mulch will replenish the depleted nutrients as it decomposes over the warmer growing season. Try spreading a layer of compost before covering with a hardwood mulch to encourage flower production.

Recycle the mulch under your hardwood perennials and replace it with fresh material. Make sure you keep the new mulch layer from covering any of new sprouts or basal leaves.

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