Black-eyed Susans: How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Black-eyed Susans | The Old Farmer's Almanac

Black-eyed Susans


Black-Eyed Susan in our yard with a tiny bee on it.

Photo Credit
Sue Day
Botanical Name
Rudbeckia hirta and other species
Plant Type
Sun Exposure
Bloom Time
Flower Color
Hardiness Zone
Special Features
No content available.

How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Black-eyed Susans

Print Friendly and PDF

Black-eyed Susans are native to North America and one of the most popular wildflowers grown. Also called Rudbeckias, this daisy-like flower blooms from June to September, often blanketing open fields with their golden-yellow beauty, surprising the passerby.

About Black-eyed Susans

Black-eyed Susans have become naturalized in Zones 3 to 9. And while some species of Black-eyed Susans have additional names—such as daisies—they all belong to the Rudbeckia genus.

The “black eye” is named for the dark, brown-purple centers of its daisy-like flower head. The plants can grow to over 3 feet tall, with leaves of 6 inches, stalks over 8 inches long, and flowers with a diameter of 2 to 3 inches. They are outstanding cut flowers that also do well in borders or containers.

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. Note that they can be territorial in that they tend to squash out other flowers growing near them.

Some Black-eyed Susans are susceptible to leaf diseases. Some newer varieties are resistant to these diseases.


Black-eyed Susan thrives in full sunshine. It tolerates partial sun, but it will not bloom as reliably. Black-eyed Susan prefers rich, well-draining soil, although plants will tolerate low fertility. 

When to Plant Black-eyed Susan

  • If direct-seeding, plant in moist, well-draining, warm (70º to 75ºF) soil.
  • Indoors, sow seeds 8 to 10 weeks before the last frost. Germination takes 7 to 10 days.
  • In most parts of North America, the ideal planting period is March to May.

How to Plant Black-eyed Susan

  • Cover seed lightly with soil. Sunlight is required for germination
  • Set seeds and plants close to deter spreading, or farther apart for a border and to prevent the spread of disease.
  • It’s best if soil is fertile (not poor), though they can tolerate tough conditions.
  • Black-eyed Susans generally grow between 1 and 3 feet tall (though they can grow taller) and can spread between 12 to 18 inches, so plant seeds closer to prevent lots of spreading or plant further apart to make a nice border.

Remove faded or dead flowers to prolong blooming. Removing spend flowers and seed heads reduces self-sowing. Check plants regularly to see if they need watering. Make sure they don’t dry out, but also avoid excess moisture on leaves, which can encourage disease (provide plants with proper spacing).

  • Remove dead plant debris in spring to reduce the risk of infection. Divide perennial types every 3 to 4 years to ensure healthy plants and to prevent excessive spreading.
  • Cutting back black-eyed Susan after flowering may result in a second, smaller bloom in late fall.
  • Leave some dried seed heads on the plants in the fall to attract birds.
  • After the first season, black-eyed Susans can reseed themselves.
  • To prevent underground spread, dig up rhizomes, making certain to remove the entire piece of root. Even a small section of rhizome can produce another plant.

Cut flowers for display just before buds completely open. Use large blooms as centerpieces and smaller ones as accents. Change the water every day to kept them fresh. Vase lit is 8 to 10 days.

Wit and Wisdom

Black-eyed Susans are meant to symbolize justice. Find out more flower meanings here.


Gardening Calendar