How To Grow & Care For Black-Eyed Susan

Black-Eyed Susan

Black-Eyed Susan, a native North American wildflower, is a perennial favorite among garden enthusiasts. Its vibrant yellow or gold petals radiate from a dark, central cone, providing a pop of color from midsummer to fall. These cheerful blossoms are not only visually appealing but also hold symbolic meanings, often associated with justice.

Growing in both wild and cultivated settings, Black-Eyed Susan is part of the sunflower family and is named for its striking black or brown center. The ease with which it grows and its hearty nature make it an attractive option for gardeners looking to add some resilient beauty to their outdoor spaces.

Its attractiveness isn’t limited to humans; Black-Eyed Susans are known to attract butterflies, bees, and other pollinators. In addition, the seeds produced by the plant provide food for various bird species, making it an excellent choice for a wildlife-friendly garden.

Common NamesBlack-Eyed Susan, Yellow Ox-eye Daisy
Botanical NameRudbeckia hirta
Plant TypePerennial or Biennial
Mature Size1 to 3 feet tall
Sun ExposureFull sun
Soil TypeWell-drained soil
Hardiness Zones3 to 9
Native AreaNorth America

Black-Eyed Susan Care

Black-Eyed Susan is a fairly low-maintenance plant, thriving in most garden soils and conditions. Once established, it’s drought-tolerant, making it a popular choice for xeriscaping or gardens in dryer climates.

While generally easy to care for, Black-Eyed Susan does appreciate being divided every 3 to 4 years. This not only keeps the plant healthy but also prevents it from overcrowding other nearby plants.

Light Requirement for Black-Eyed Susan

Black-Eyed Susan thrives best in full sun, which helps it produce its vibrant, colorful blooms. While it can tolerate some light shade, a lack of sun may lead to fewer flowers and weaker stems.

Soil Requirements for Black-Eyed Susan

Black-Eyed Susan is adaptable to various soil types but prefers well-drained soil. It can grow in clay, sandy, or loamy soil, provided there is good drainage.

Water Requirements for Black-Eyed Susan

While drought-tolerant once established, Black-Eyed Susan does appreciate consistent watering, especially during its first growing season. After that, it typically needs only occasional watering.

Temperature and Humidity

Black-Eyed Susan is resilient and can handle various temperature ranges. It can also tolerate both humid and dry conditions, making it a versatile choice for different climate zones.


Black-Eyed Susan generally doesn’t require fertilizer. If the soil is particularly poor, a slow-release, balanced fertilizer can be used in the spring.

Pruning Black-Eyed Susan

Deadheading, or removing spent flowers, can encourage new blooms. In the fall, stems can be cut back, or left as they are to provide winter interest and food for birds.

Propagating Black-Eyed Susan

Propagation is often done through division or by sowing seeds. Division should be done in early spring, while seeds can be sown in the fall or just before the last frost in spring.

How To Grow Black-Eyed Susan From Seed

Seeds can be started indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost or directly sown outdoors. They should be lightly covered with soil and kept moist until germination.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

Slugs and Snails

These can be handpicked or controlled using natural remedies.

Powdery Mildew

Adequate spacing and proper watering techniques can prevent this common fungal disease.

Common Problems With Black-Eyed Susan

Leggy Growth

This may occur if the plant is not receiving enough sun. Relocating to a sunnier spot or increasing light exposure can resolve this issue.

Drooping Stems

Overwatering or poor drainage can lead to drooping stems. Adjust watering habits and ensure proper soil drainage.

Pro Tips

  1. Plant in clusters to create a visual impact and attract more pollinators.
  2. Combine with other native perennials for a robust, low-maintenance garden.
  3. Consider leaving seed heads in place after blooming to provide food for birds in the winter.