How to Plant and Grow Black-Eyed Susan

The perennial black-eyed Susan has bright yellow flowers that light up the midsummer garden and keep on going until frost.

With its many flowers, black-eyed Susan, native to the Midwest, lends itself well to mass plantings and has long been a staple in perennial gardens. Black-eyed Susan comes in both annual and perennial varieties. Hardy in Zones 3-11, they need little care to grow abundantly. Because black-eyed Susan blooms for many weeks when other summer perennials begin to fade, this plant is a sign that fall is around the corner.

The most common black-eyed Susan flowers have a single row of gold petals surrounding a black or brown center. The foliage of black-eyed Susan is unobtrusive. Because the foliage is covered in coarse hairs, rabbits and deer rarely bother it (these creatures may snack on the flowers, though). Leaves are generally deep green, which blends well in a mixed garden bed.

Black-Eyed Susan Overview

Genus Name Rudbeckia
Common Name Black-Eyed Susan
Plant Type Annual, Perennial
Light Sun
Height 1 to 5 feet
Width 1 to 3 feet
Flower Color Orange, Red, Yellow
Foliage Color Blue/Green
Season Features Fall Bloom, Summer Bloom
Special Features Attracts Birds, Cut Flowers, Good for Containers, Low Maintenance
Zones 10, 11, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Propagation Division, Seed, Stem Cuttings
Problem Solvers Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant

Where to Plant Black-Eyed Susan

Plant black-eyed Susan in full sun for the best flowers. Black-eyed Susan plants prefer moist to dry, well-draining soils and are equally at home in loam, clay, and sandy soils—any soil that isn't consistantly soggy. These plants are good choices for butterfly gardens, beds, borders, mass plantings, and containers.

When and How to Plant Black-Eyed Susan

Plant black-eyed Susan flowers after the last winter frost, or plant in fall before the cold sets in. If planting from seed, sow the seeds six weeks before the last frost. Set plants 18 inches apart in soil that's been cleared of weeds and loosened for easy digging. To plant, dig a hole about the same width and depth as the planting container. Remove the plant and loosen the roots a bit from the root ball before placing in the hole. Backfill with soil, tamp lightly, and water well.

Black-Eyed Susan Rudbeckia
Perry L. Struse.

Black-Eyed Susan Care Tips

Black-eyed Susans are easy to grow and easy-care plants. 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.


These sun-loving plants will do best when in sunlight six to eight hours a day. They can grow in shade, but the colors of the flowers won't be as full or as vibrant.

Soil and Water

Once black-eyed Susan is established, it's a drought-tolerant plant, but it needs regular watering when first planted. While they grow well in almost any soil, black-eyed Susan won't thrive in soggy locations. If your soil is very sandy, add organic matter to help it retain water

Temperature and Humidity

These plants will grow best in warmer temperatures. They prefer 60ºF or above. However, black-eyed Susan doesn't mind humidity.


Because black-eyed Susan grows in most soils, it usually doesn't need fertilizer.


Deadheading black-eyed Susan is essential for healthy regrowth. When deadheading, cut back to just past the first leaf on the stem. Cut them back to 2 inches above the ground at the end of the season. Add mulch during cold months to keep them from freezing before spring. Black-eyed Susan propagates from underground rhizomes and self-seeds, so if you want to keep them from becoming invasive, clean up seed pods and trim back growth.

Potting and Repotting Black-Eyed Susan

Black-eyed Susan isn't the best choice for a container plant. Their roots prefer a garden setting where they can grow deep. If you want to try to plant them in a container, pick a substantially wide and deep one to simulate a garden environment.

Pests and Problems

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.

Common garden pests can be removed with a burst of water from a garden hose, or if needed, use insecticidal soap or neem oil to eliminate aphids and other bugs.

How to Propagate Black-Eyed Susan

Seeds: These plants tend to reseed themselves, so they'll likely continue showing up in your garden without any help from you. However, you can harvest seeds to start indoors. A few weeks after a flower blooms, remove the seed head (or cut the stalk containing the seed head) and put it in a paper bag to dry for about a week. After the seed head is dry, you still have to remove the seeds. One method is to place the dry seed head in a glass jar, seal it, and shake it until the seeds turn loose. Sow the dried seeds in a flat of seed-starting mix eight weeks before the last frost of spring and cover them with a scant 1/16 inch of medium. Keep the soil moist and put the flat in a warm place, preferable at about 70°F. The seeds will germinate in two to four weeks.

Divisions: After three or four years, black-eyed Susan clumps may become too large for your garden. When that happens, it's time to dig them up and divide them for replanting. Depending on how large the clump is or how tall the plants are, you may want to prune the plants somewhat before lifting them to make the process more manageable. Then, in either the fall or spring, when the plant is leaving or entering dormancy (not summer or winter), dig a trench around the drip line and lift the clump with roots out of the soil with a shovel. Brush off some of the soil so you can see the roots. Then, use pruning shears to cut through the plant and roots to separate the clump into several divisions. Replant the divisions in the garden right away and water them well until they are established.

Stem Cuttings: For gardeners looking for another way to gain a new black-eyed Susan plant, there is the stem-cutting method. Cut a 6 to 8-inch stem just below a node on a growing tip of the plant. Put it in a jar with water and watch it root. After it develops roots and growth starts to show, move it into a peat pot with potting soil and put in a warm area with bright light.

Types of Black-Eyed Susan

'Autumn Colors' Black-Eyed Susan

'Autumn Colors' Black-Eyed Susan
Justin Hancock

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.

Brown-Eyed Susan

Brown-Eyed Susan
John Reed Forsman 

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

'Goldsturm' Black-Eyed Susan

'Goldstrum' Black-Eyed Susan
Jerry Pavia

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

'Indian Summer' Black-Eyed Susan
Peter Krumhardt

Rudbeckia hirta 'Indian Summer' features bright golden flowers and hairy foliage. It grows 3 feet tall and blooms from summer to frost in Zones 3-7, where it is often grown as an annual.

'Maya' Black-Eyed Susan

'Maya' Black-Eyed Susan
Justin Hancock

Rudbeckia 'Maya' is an annual dwarf variety with golden-yellow petal-packed double flowers. It grows 18 inches tall.

'Prairie Sun' Black-Eyed Susan

'Prairie Sun' Black-Eyed Susan
Peter Krumhardt

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

'Radiance' Black-Eyed Susan
Justin Hancock

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

'Sonora' Black-Eyed Susan
Justin Hancock

Rudbeckia 'Sonora' is an annual type with large mahogany petals tipped in yellow. It grows 20 inches tall.

'Toto Lemon' Black-Eyed Susan

'Toto Lemon' Black-Eyed Susan
Justin Hancock

Rudbeckia 'Toto Lemon' is a dwarf annual selection with cheery bright yellow blooms all summer. It grows 15 inches tall.

'Toto Rustic' Black-Eyed Susan

'Toto Rustic' Black-Eyed Susan
Justin Hancock

Rudbeckia 'Toto Rustic' is an annual type that bears golden blooms with rich burgundy-red centers. It grows 15 inches tall.

Black-Eyed Susan Companion Plants


Marty Baldwin

Like so many grasses, fountaingrass is spectacular when backlit by the rising or setting sun. 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. Zones 6-11

Russian Sage

light purple full-sun russian sage perennial
Peter Krumhardt

Russian sage is an important player in summer and fall gardens. Its aromatic silvery plumes and lavender flowers show off well against most flowers. Foot-long panicles of flowers bloom for many weeks. Zones 4-9


Echinacea purpurea coneflower
Greg Ryan

The purple coneflower is easy to grow and draws many birds and butterflies. This prairie native is valued for its large, sturdy, daisylike flowers with dropping petals. Allow it to spread, so you have at least a small stand. 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. Zones 3-9

Garden Plans for Black-Eyed Susan

No Fuss Bird and Butterfly Garden

No-Fuss Bird and Butterfly Garden Plan Illustration
Illustration by Gary Palmer

Plant a low-maintenance garden that will attract pollinators to your landscape using this easy garden plan.

Easy-Care Butterfly Garden Plan

butterfly garden plan illustration
Illustration by Mavis Augustine Torke

Create a lush island bed of easy-to-grow perennial and annual flowers with this garden plan that will bring fascinating and beneficial insects to your garden.

Late-Summer Perennial Garden Plan

Simple Late-Summer Perennial Garden Plan illustration
Illustration by Mavis Augustine Torke

Keep the color strong through the growing season's end with this simple garden plan. It's packed with sun-loving, summer-blooming perennials that generally have brighter-hued flowers than those of spring, with warm reds, oranges, and golden yellows taking center stage.

Year-Round Excitement Garden Plan

Year-Round Excitement Garden Plan Illustration

While many gardens are all about flowers, this one emphasizes foliage plants of varying heights and textures and adds a butterfly house to provide shelter for pollinators.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why isn't my black-eyed Susan blooming?

    The most likely reason your flowers aren't blooming is a lack of sunlight. If other nearby plants are blocking the sunlight, trim them to allow more sun to get to your black-eyed Susans. Also, if you've been fertilizing your plants, switch from a high nitrogen type to a high phosphorous type. Nitrogen promotes foliage growth instead of flower growth.

  • Should black-eyed Susans be staked?

    At the height of the growing season, black-eyed Susans may need help standing tall. Use bamboo or wire stakes to support the larger plants.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles