At their peak bloom, black-eyed Susans steal the garden show. These natives lend themselves well to mass plantings, creating a pool of gold with their multitude of flowers. Black-eyed Susans have long been a staple in perennial gardens, and for good reason. They need little care to make such a breathtaking display.
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Because black-eyed Susan blooms when other summer perennials begin to fade, this plant is a sign that fall is around the corner. The blooms last for weeks and form large masses of color. The most common black-eyed Susan flowers have a single row of gold petals surrounding a black or brown center. Thanks to new innovations to this plant, you can now find blooms that have multiple rows of petals. Petal colors can range from bright gold and orange to deep red and brown.
The foliage of black-eyed Susan is unobtrusive. Because the foliage is covered in coarse hairs, rabbits and deer rarely bother it. Leaves are generally a deep green color that blend well in a mixed garden bed.
Black-Eyed Susan Care Must-Knows
Leaf spots are black-eyed Susan's most common problem and are generally caused by fungus. The best way to handle this problem is to clean up dead debris before new foliage has emerged in spring and after the first frost in fall. Doing so will remove spores that could infect new foliage. Plant black-eyed Susan in full sun with good air circulation to also help prevent fungus growth.
Black-eyed Susan comes in both annual and perennial varieties. Many newer varieties are annuals in northern climates but hardy in the South. Be sure to check hardiness zones when shopping for black-eyed Susan.
More Varieties of Black-Eyed Susan
'Autumn Colors' Black-Eyed Susan
Rudbeckia 'Autumn Colors' is an award-winning annual series that bears 5-inch-wide gold flowers flushed with bronze, red, and rust. It grows 2 feet tall.
Rudbeckia triloba is a North American native biennial or short-lived perennial that has clusters of small yellow flowers in summer and autumn. It grows 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide. Zones 4-7
'Goldstrum' Black-Eyed Susan
Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii 'Goldsturm' is one of the most popular perennials of all time. It offers 3- to 4-inch bright yellow daisies accented with a dark brown cone from midsummer to fall. It reaches 2 feet tall and is hardy in Zones 4-9.
'Indian Summer' Black-Eyed Susan
Rudbeckia hirta 'Indian Summer' features bright golden flowers and hairy foliage. It grows 3 feet tall and blooms from summer to frost. Zones 3-7, but often grown as an annual.
'Maya' Black-Eyed Susan
Rudbeckia 'Maya' is an annual dwarf variety with golden-yellow double flowers. It grows 18 inches tall.
'Prairie Sun' Black-Eyed Susan
Rudbeckia hirta 'Prairie Sun' features yellow-orange flowers from summer to frost. It's hardy in Zones 3-8, but it's usually grown as an annual.
'Radiance' Black-Eyed Susan
Rudbeckia 'Radiance' is usually grown as an annual and offers distinct double flowers with quilled petals. It grows 18 inches tall.
'Sonora' Black-Eyed Susan
Rudbeckia 'Sonora' is an annual type with large mahogany petals tipped in yellow. It grows 20 inches tall.
'Toto Lemon' Black-Eyed Susan
Rudbeckia 'Toto Lemon' is a dwarf annual selection with cheery bright yellow blooms all summer. It grows 15 inches tall.
Black-Eyed Susan Companion Plants
Like so many grasses, fountaingrass is spectacular when backlit by the rising or setting sun. Named for its especially graceful spray of foliage, fountaingrass also sends out beautiful, fuzzy flower plumes in late summer. The white, pink, or red plumes (depending on variety) continue into fall and bring a loose, informal look to plantings. This plant self-seeds freely, sometimes to the point of becoming invasive.
With its tall wispy wands of lavender or blue flowers and silvery foliage, Russian sage is an important player in summer and fall gardens. It shows off well against most flowers and provides an elegant look to flower borders. The aromatic leaves are oblong, deeply cut along the edges. Foot-long panicles of flowers bloom for many weeks. Excellent drainage and full sun are ideal, although very light shade is tolerated. Plant close to avoid staking since the tall plants tend to flop.
The attractive and popular purple coneflower is so easy to grow and draws so many birds and butterflies that you simply must plant it. Valued for its large, sturdy, daisylike flowers with dropping petals, this prairie native will spread easily in good soil and full sun. It is bothered by few pests or diseases. It's a great cut flower—bring in armloads of it to brighten the house. And birds and butterflies love it. Allow it to spread so you have at least a small stand of it. Let the flowers go to seed and the goldfinches will love you, coming to feast on the seeds daily. Butterflies and helpful bees also love purple coneflower. It used to be that rosy purple or white were the only choices in flower color, but recent hybrids have introduced yellow, orange, burgundy, cream, and shades in between.