Black Eyed Susan
A hallmark of prairies and meadows, Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) is a biennial that blooms and completes its life cycle in its second year with an extravagant floral display. Transplants will bloom the year they are planted, and will easily self-sow onto open soil, creating a more or less consistent stand over time. Exceptionally showy and easy to grow, Black Eyed Susan has a prolonged bloom time that attracts butterflies and other pollinators. The late season seed heads attract finches and other birds. Easy to grow and very drought tolerant, this Rudbeckia tolerates heat, drought and a wide range of soils, but does not like poorly-drained, wet soils. Seeds may be sown directly in the soil at the last frost date.
The “black eye” of black-eyed Susans refers to the dark brown center of its daisy-like flower head. A member of the aster family, Asteraceae, and native to eastern North America, it has become naturalized in Zones 3 to 9. And while some species of black-eyed Susans have additional names—such as Gloriosa daisies—they all belong to the Rudbeckia genus.
Black-eyed Susans grow 1 to 3 feet tall or more with leaves of 6 inches, stalks over 8 inches long, and flowers with a diameter of 2 to 3 inches. Butterflies, bees, and other insects are attracted to the flowers for the nectar. As they drink the nectar, they move pollen from one plant to another, causing it to grow seeds that can move about easily with the wind. In the garden, they do well in landscapes, borders, butterfly gardens, or containers. Also, they are outstanding cut flowers.