Ask the Experts, Plant Profiles

Black-Eyed Susan | Sunshine on a Stem

(Rudbeckia hirta)

Image Credit: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Common Names: Black-eyed Susan, Brown-eyed Susan.

Black-eyed Susan Overview

Black-eyed Susan, also known as brown-eyed Susan, is a versatile and charming flower that brightens up the Texas landscape. With its bright yellow, daisy-like flowers featuring dark centers, black-eyed Susan stands tall on stems reaching up to 3 feet in height. The stems and scattered oval leaves of black-eyed Susan are adorned with bristly hairs, giving the plant a slightly rough texture.

Region Native to North America, including Texas.
Plant Type Versatile annual, biennial, or short-lived perennial.
Sun Exposure Full sun.
Soil Type Adaptable to various soil types; prefers well-drained soil.
Water Requirements Moderate watering; drought-tolerant once established.
Bloom Time Summer to fall; bright yellow, daisy-like flowers with dark centers.
Flower Color Yellow with dark centers; coarse, rough-stemmed nature.
Growth Habit Stems reach up to 3 feet tall; scattered oval leaves adorned with bristly hairs.
Garden Use Ideal for wildflower meadows and garden borders.
Wildlife Attraction Attracts bees, butterflies, and granivorous birds.
Care Tips Propagates easily from seeds; blooms for multiple seasons.
Notable Traits Ornamental and rugged; provides food and nectar for wildlife.
Companion Plants Mixes well with other native wildflowers and grasses.

A Multi-Functional Staple

Native to North America, including Texas, black-eyed Susan is a versatile plant that can function as an annual, biennial, or short-lived perennial. It thrives in full sun and is adaptable to various soil types, although it prefers well-drained soil. Once established, it requires moderate watering and is drought-tolerant, making it a resilient choice for Texas gardeners.

A Beacon for Pollinators

From summer to fall, black-eyed Susan graces the landscape with its bright yellow blooms, attracting a variety of wildlife, including bees, butterflies, and granivorous birds. Its nectar-rich flowers and seeds serve as valuable food sources for these creatures, contributing to the biodiversity of the area. Additionally, black-eyed Susan holds cultural significance, as Native American tribes historically utilized various parts of the plant for medicinal purposes.

Propagation and Cultivation

One of the notable traits of black-eyed Susan is its ability to propagate easily from seeds, making it accessible for gardeners to cultivate. Whether sown in the fall or spring, the seeds readily germinate, leading to vibrant displays of blooms for multiple seasons. In garden settings, black-eyed Susan complements other native wildflowers and grasses, making it an ideal choice for wildflower meadows and garden borders.

Proper cultivation involves providing adeqcuate sunlight, well-drained soil, and moderate watering, along with allowing the plant to freely self-seed to ensure its continued presence in the garden. With its rugged charm and ecological benefits, Black-eyed Susan remains a beloved choice for Texas gardeners seeking to enhance their landscapes while supporting plant and insect biodiversity.