By Jennifer Poindexter
Have you ever considered growing black-eyed Susan flowers around your home? This plant also goes by the scientific name of rudbeckia hirta.
No matter what you call it, these flowers are low-maintenance and hard to miss thanks to their brightly colored petals and dark centers.
As you’ll learn, these plants come in different varieties (both annual and perennial). However, most people tend to lean towards the perennial options.
Therefore, black-eyed Susan flowers make a great addition for perennial garden plots. No matter your reason for growing these beauties, it’s important to understand how to grow them.
Here’s what you should know when you’re trying to learn to grow and care for black-eyed Susan flowers:
Growing Conditions for Black-Eyed Susan Flowers
Black-eyed Susan flowers (Rudbeckia hirta) are native to woodland and prairie areas in North America. These flowers are usually perennial and remain hardy in planting zones four through nine.
However, there are some annual varieties of this flower as well. When growing black-eyed Susan flowers, it’s important to get the growing conditions right.
These plants do best when grown in areas which receive full sunlight. This equates to six or more hours of direct lighting per day.
You should also provide well-draining soil that remains evenly damp. Black-eyed Susan flowers shouldn’t become oversaturated as they don’t like having wet feet.
These flowers are known for being both drought and heat tolerant. However, be sure you have a large enough growing space as they grow in clumps.
Each flower reaches heights between two and three feet tall and the groups of flowers can be as wide as two to three feet.
Though black-eyed Susan flowers are sometimes grown as perennials, they still do well when planted in pots.
Ensure the pot is at least a gallon (or larger) and fill it with well-draining soil. Place the containers in full sun to provide these flowers everything they need to grow well under your care.
Be sure you have the right area to grow these flowers prior to planting as this determines whether they begin their journey on the right foot.
How to Plant Black-Eyed Susan Flowers
When growing black-eyed Susan flowers, it’s best to do so from seed. To propagate these plants from seed, be sure to prepare them for planting in the spring.
This process starts approximately three months before planting as the seeds need to go through the stratification process in your freezer.
To perform seed stratification, it’s best to soak your seeds for an hour or two first. Then drain the water from the seeds.
After this is finished, wrap the soaked seeds in a damp paper towel and surround the seeds and moist towel again with a dry paper towel.
Place the seeds, inside the paper towels, into a plastic sealed bag. Then place the bag in the freezer for at least one month.
After the process is complete, you’re ready to pull the seeds from the freezer and begin the planting process.
Begin by planting the seeds in a starter tray filled with well-draining soil. Cover them with a half-inch of soil and keep it evenly damp.
It should take the seeds approximately two weeks for them to germinate. If starting the seeds indoors, be sure to do so eight weeks prior to the final frost date.
Once all threat of frost is over, harden the seedlings off, and transplant them into a growing location which meets all the specifications mentioned above.
However, should you choose to direct sow the seeds, you may not need three months for the seed stratification process.
Instead, begin this process one month prior to the final frost date. Then prepare a bed for your black-eyed Susan flowers.
Once the seed stratification process is complete, plant the seeds approximately a half-inch beneath the soil in their designated outdoor growing location.
Cover the seeds with dirt, water them regularly until germination occurs, then provide adequate care to the new plants.
When your black-eyed Susan flowers are established, you’ll need to divide them every three years. You do this by digging up each group of flowers down to the roots.
Use a trowel to divide them from the foliage through the roots. Plant each new division into a growing location with all the necessary growing conditions.
Black-eyed Susan flowers can be grown in fall or spring, depending upon which method you choose to begin growing these flowers.
If starting them from seed indoors, it’s best to do this in early spring. If direct sowing seeds or planting by division, you may do so in fall or spring. Expect black-eyed Susan flowers to bloom from late spring through fall.
You now have two different ways to grow black-eyed Susan flowers. Pick the method which works best for your current situation, and you’ll be well on your way to adding these flowers to your surroundings.
Caring for Black-Eyed Susan Flowers
When growing black-eyed Susan flowers, they’re considered low-maintenance. What this means is they won’t need much from you to thrive.
The few basic things they will need from you are fertilizer, water, and deadheading. Let’s begin with how you should fertilize black-eyed Susans.
Black-eyed Susan flowers need a balanced fertilizer applied to them in early spring and fall. Read the instructions on the fertilizer to know the best method and amount for application.
This should provide the boost of nutrients they need to produce vibrant blooms throughout their growing season.
Next, you must know how and when to water these plants. These flowers should only be watered regularly in their first year. When watering black-eyed Susan flowers, be sure to water the plants deeply.
This means you’ll apply larger quantities of water for longer periods of time, fewer days of the week. In doing so, you’re ensuring water reaches the plants’ roots and saturating the ground around them.
When the plants need more water, they’ll dig deeper into the ground to retrieve it. This equates to stronger root systems which leads to healthier plants.
Lastly, you must deadhead these flowers. The more you remove spent blooms, the less energy the plant spends on them. This leads to more prolific blooming.
Black-eyed Susan flowers are an excellent choice for both experienced and new gardeners. Perform these basic tasks, and you should see bountiful blooms from these plants.
Garden Pests and Diseases Which Might Impact Black-Eyed Susan Flowers
The next thing you must understand when growing black-eyed Susan flowers is how to protect them from threats in your garden or landscape.
These plants face quite a few issues with diseases and pests. The most common diseases which impact black-eyed Susan flowers are stem rot, downy mildew, bacterial leaf spot, powdery mildew, and fungal rust.
You may apply a bactericide or fungicide to treat most of these diseases. However, you may take extra steps to deter fungal disease.
The main ways to discourage these issues is to ensure each plant is provided with proper soil drainage and airflow. You may do this by pruning the groups of flowers, so air can move around the foliage.
You should also ensure you plant these flowers in areas with ample sunlight and well-draining soil. Fungal issues thrive in areas with cold, wet soil. Beat these issues by supplying light and adequate drainage.
In doing so, you’re removing the ideal growing conditions for these problems and hopefully, stopping them before they form.
These can be treated with an insecticide. You may also spray the plants forcefully with soapy water to remove the pests and their homes from the area.
Take these tips into consideration when looking for potential threats to your black-eyed Susan flowers. Remember, the more alert you remain, the less damage that typically comes to your plants when issues arise.
You now know how to plant, care for, and protect your black-eyed Susan flowers. These plants could make gorgeous additions to a variety of landscapes.
Plus, they’re considered perennials in some areas which means they’ll provide beauty for a number of years. Take care of these low-maintenance flowers and enjoy their rich colors around your home.