How To Plant Black Eyed Susan [ Full Guide ]

Black eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) is a stunning and vibrant perennial flower with bright yellow petals and a dark center. It is a popular choice for gardens due to its low maintenance and ability to attract pollinators like bees and butterflies. Planting black eyed Susans is relatively straightforward, but proper soil preparation, location selection, and planting method are crucial for their success. This comprehensive guide will walk you through each step of the process to ensure your black eyed Susans thrive in your garden.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Black Eyed Susan

Planting black eyed Susans involves choosing the right location with adequate sunlight, preparing the soil with organic matter, selecting the appropriate planting method, and ensuring the health of the plants you choose. Once these steps are followed, your black eyed Susans will flourish and bring a vibrant pop of color to your garden.

Choosing The Right Location

Selecting the right location is paramount for the successful growth of black eyed Susans. These plants thrive in full sun, so it’s essential to choose a spot that receives at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight per day. Adequate sunlight ensures that the plants produce an abundance of their characteristic bright, daisy-like flowers.

When considering the location, it’s also important to take into account the soil drainage. Black eyed Susans prefer well-draining soil to prevent waterlogged conditions, which can lead to rot. Additionally, ensure that the chosen spot has enough space for the plants to grow and spread, as black eyed Susans can reach heights of 2 to 3 feet and spread up to 1.5 feet.

Soil Preparation

Before planting black eyed Susans, it’s crucial to prepare the soil to provide an optimal growing environment for these vibrant flowers. Start by testing the soil to determine its pH and nutrient levels. Black eyed Susans thrive in slightly acidic to neutral soil with a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0.

If the soil’s pH is too low or too high, amend it accordingly using products specifically designed to raise or lower the pH level. Additionally, enrich the soil with organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure to improve its fertility and structure. This organic matter enhances the soil’s ability to retain moisture while allowing excess water to drain away, fostering a healthy root system for the black eyed Susans.

Selecting The Right Planting Method

There are several methods to consider when planting black eyed Susans, including sowing seeds directly into the garden, planting container-grown seedlings, or dividing existing plants. Each method has its own benefits, and the choice may depend on the time of year, availability of plants, and personal preference.

  • Sowing Seeds: Sowing black eyed Susan seeds directly into the garden is a cost-effective method to establish these plants. This approach is suited for early spring or early fall when the soil is not too hot or dry. It’s essential to prepare the seedbed by raking the soil to create a fine, level surface. Scatter the seeds evenly over the prepared area and lightly press them into the soil, ensuring good seed-to-soil contact. Keep the soil consistently moist until the seeds germinate, which typically takes around 7 to 30 days.

  • Container-Grown Seedlings: Planting container-grown black eyed Susan seedlings is a convenient and reliable method. This approach is suitable for the growing season, typically from late spring to early fall. Prepare the planting hole to the same depth as the container and twice as wide. Carefully remove the seedling from its container, gently loosen the roots, and place it in the center of the hole. Fill the hole with soil, firm it gently around the roots, and water thoroughly.

  • Dividing Existing Plants: If you have established black eyed Susan plants in your garden, you can propagate them by dividing the clumps. This method is best carried out in early spring or early fall. Dig up the clump of black eyed Susans and carefully separate it into smaller sections using a sharp, clean tool. Each divided section should have both roots and shoots. Replant the divisions at the same depth as the original plants, ensuring they have enough space to grow and spread.

Selecting Healthy Black-eyed Susan Plants

When purchasing black eyed Susans from a nursery or garden center, it’s essential to select healthy plants to ensure their successful establishment in your garden. Look for plants that exhibit the following characteristics:

  • Full, Green Foliage: Choose plants with lush green leaves that indicate they are actively growing and are healthy.

  • Strong Stems: Look for plants with sturdy, upright stems, as they are more likely to thrive after planting.

  • No Signs of Disease or Pests: Inspect the plants for any signs of disease, pest infestations, or damage. It’s important to introduce only healthy plants to your garden to prevent the spread of any issues to your existing plants.

  • Well-Developed Roots: Carefully remove the plant from its container to check the root system. Healthy plants will have white, firm roots that are well-established in the soil. Avoid plants with roots that are brown, mushy, or appear to be circling the pot, as they may struggle to establish themselves in your garden.

Planting black eyed Susans can be a rewarding endeavor, as these vibrant flowers add a splash of color to any garden while attracting beneficial pollinators. By carefully selecting the right location with adequate sunlight and well-draining soil, preparing the soil with organic matter, choosing the appropriate planting method, and ensuring the health of the plants, you can set the stage for the successful growth of black eyed Susans in your garden. Following the steps outlined in this guide will help you establish robust and thriving black eyed Susan plants, creating a visually appealing and pollinator-friendly garden space.

Planting Black Eyed Susan Seeds

Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) is a popular wildflower that is known for its beautiful yellow petals with a dark brown or black center. These vibrant flowers are native to North America and are commonly found in meadows, prairies, and along roadsides. Planting black-eyed susans in your garden can add a splash of color and attract butterflies and bees.

RELATED  How To Plant In Garden [ Full Guide ]

Black-eyed susans can be grown from either seeds or seedlings. Planting from seeds allows you to have control over the growing process from the very beginning, while planting seedlings gives you a head start on the growth.

If you choose to start from seeds, here’s how you can plant black-eyed susan seeds:

  1. Choose the Right Time: Black-eyed susan seeds should be planted in the spring, after the last frost has passed. This will provide the plants with the ideal growing conditions.

  2. Select a Suitable Location: Black-eyed susans thrive in full sun, so choose a location in your garden that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. The soil should be well-drained and rich in organic matter.

  3. Prepare the Soil: Before planting the seeds, it is essential to prepare the soil properly. Start by removing any weeds or grass from the area. Loosen the soil using a garden fork or tiller. Incorporate organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure to improve the fertility and drainage of the soil.

  4. Sow the Seeds: Sprinkle the black-eyed susan seeds evenly over the prepared soil. It is best to sow the seeds thinly to avoid overcrowding. Lightly press the seeds into the soil, ensuring good seed-to-soil contact.

  5. Cover and Water: Once the seeds are sown, cover them with a thin layer of soil or vermiculite. Gently water the area using a watering can or a gentle spray from a hose. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. It is advised to use a fine mist setting to prevent displacing the seeds.

  6. Germination and Thinning: Black-eyed susan seeds take approximately 10 to 20 days to germinate. During this period, it is crucial to keep the soil consistently moist. Once the seedlings have grown to a height of a few inches, thin them out so that there is about 12 to 18 inches of space between each plant. This will allow them to receive adequate sunlight and air circulation.

Planting Black Eyed Susan Seedlings

If you prefer to start with seedlings, here’s how you can plant black-eyed susan seedlings:

  1. Purchase Healthy Seedlings: Visit a reputable nursery or garden center to purchase healthy black-eyed susan seedlings. Look for seedlings that have green, sturdy stems and healthy foliage.

  2. Prepare the Soil: Choose a suitable location in your garden that receives full sun. Prepare the soil by removing any weeds or grass and loosening it using a garden fork or tiller. Incorporate organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure to improve the soil quality.

  3. Dig Planting Holes: Dig holes in the prepared soil that are slightly larger than the root ball of each seedling. Space the holes about 12 to 18 inches apart to ensure adequate growth.

  4. Plant the Seedlings: Gently remove the seedlings from their containers, being careful not to damage the root system. Place each seedling in a planting hole and backfill with soil, making sure the soil is firm around the base of the plant. Water the seedlings immediately after planting to help settle the soil.

  5. Mulch and Stake: Apply a layer of organic mulch around the seedlings to help conserve moisture and suppress weed growth. This will also provide insulation to the plants during extreme weather conditions. If your black-eyed susans are tall varieties, it may be necessary to stake them to provide support against strong winds.

  6. Watering and Care: Water the seedlings regularly, especially during dry spells, to keep the soil consistently moist. Black-eyed susans are drought-tolerant once established, but regular watering during their initial growth phase is essential for healthy development. Monitor for pests or diseases and take appropriate action if necessary.

Watering Requirements

Proper watering is crucial for the successful growth and development of black-eyed susans. Here are some guidelines to follow when it comes to watering:

  1. Established Plants: Once black-eyed susans are fully established, they are relatively drought-tolerant and can handle dry conditions. However, during prolonged dry spells, it is recommended to provide supplemental watering to ensure optimal growth. Water deeply at the base of the plant rather than using overhead sprinklers to avoid wetting the foliage.

  2. Newly Planted Seedlings: For newly planted seedlings, it is important to keep the soil consistently moist during the first few weeks. Water them regularly, aiming for about an inch of water per week. Make sure to water deeply, allowing the water to reach the root zone.

  3. Be Mindful of Overwatering: While it is important to provide adequate moisture, black-eyed susans do not tolerate waterlogged conditions. Overwatering can lead to root rot and other fungal diseases. Ensure that the soil has good drainage and allow the top inch of soil to dry out before watering again.

  4. Watering Schedule: When establishing a watering schedule for black-eyed susans, consider the local climate, soil type, and rainfall patterns. Adjust your watering routine accordingly to ensure the plants receive the right amount of moisture.

RELATED  How To Plant Three Sisters [ Full Guide ]

Fertilizing Guidelines

Black-eyed susans are relatively low-maintenance plants and do not require heavy fertilization. However, providing some nutrients can promote healthy growth and abundant blooms. Here are some guidelines for fertilizing black-eyed susans:

  1. Soil Testing: Before applying any fertilizers, it is recommended to conduct a soil test to determine the nutrient levels and pH of the soil. This will help you determine if any specific nutrients are lacking and if any adjustments need to be made.

  2. Organic Matter: Prioritize improving the soil quality by incorporating organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure. This will help to enrich the soil with essential nutrients and improve its structure and fertility.

  3. Slow-Release Fertilizer: If your soil test indicates a need for additional nutrients, apply a slow-release granular fertilizer that is specifically formulated for flowering plants. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer packaging for the correct application rate and timing. Avoid over-fertilizing, as excessive nutrients can lead to weak growth and excessive foliage at the expense of blooms.

  4. Liquid Fertilizer: As an alternative to slow-release granular fertilizer, you can also use a liquid fertilizer diluted in water. Apply the liquid fertilizer every two to three weeks during the growing season. Again, be cautious not to exceed the recommended dosage.

  5. Avoid Fertilizing in Late Summer: Stop fertilizing black-eyed susans in late summer, as this can encourage lush growth that may not harden off in time for the winter. This can make the plants more susceptible to damage from frost.

Black Eyed Susan is a stunning wildflower that can bring a burst of color and attract pollinators to your garden. Whether you choose to plant from seeds or seedlings, following the right techniques can ensure successful growth and vibrant blooms. Remember to provide adequate sunlight, well-drained soil, and regular watering. Fertilize sparingly and prioritize the use of organic matter to enhance the soil quality. With proper care and attention, your black-eyed susans will thrive and brighten up your garden for years to come.

Mulching Tips

Black Eyed Susan is a hardy perennial that thrives in zones 3 to 9, making it suitable for a wide range of climates. It prefers full sun but can tolerate partial shade. These flowers typically bloom from mid-summer to early fall, attracting pollinators like bees and butterflies to your garden.

Before planting Black Eyed Susan, it’s important to prepare your garden bed properly. Black Eyed Susan isn’t particularly fussy about soil type but prefers well-draining soil. It can tolerate a variety of soil pH levels, ranging from slightly acidic to slightly alkaline.

Mulching is an essential part of Black Eyed Susan care, as it helps retain moisture, suppress weed growth, and insulate the soil during the colder months. Here are some mulching tips for planting Black Eyed Susan:

  1. Timing: Apply mulch in late spring or early summer once the soil has warmed up. This will allow the ground to retain moisture and keep the temperature consistent.

  2. Mulch material: Use organic mulch materials such as shredded bark, straw, or compost. These materials break down over time, enriching the soil with nutrients.

  3. Thickness: Apply a layer of mulch around 2-3 inches deep. Be careful not to suffocate the plant’s base, as it can lead to stem rot or other damages.

  4. Mulch placement: Spread the mulch in a even layer around the base of the plants, leaving a small gap around the stem to prevent moisture accumulation and potential rot.

  5. Weed control: Mulching helps suppress weed growth, reducing competition for nutrients and water. However, it’s important to remove any existing weeds before applying mulch to ensure they don’t grow through it.

Pruning And Maintenance

Proper pruning and maintenance are crucial for the health and longevity of Black Eyed Susan plants. Regular maintenance will keep your plants looking neat and tidy, and encourage continuous blooming. Here are some tips for pruning and maintaining Black Eyed Susan:

  1. Deadheading: To encourage continual blooming, deadhead the faded flowers by removing them at the base of the stem. This prevents the plant from diverting energy towards seed production and prompts it to produce more blooms.

  2. Division: Black Eyed Susan plants tend to become crowded over time. To maintain healthy plants and promote better bloom production, divide the clumps every 3-4 years in early spring or late fall. Carefully dig up the clumps using a garden fork, separate the plant into smaller sections, and replant them in well-prepared soil.

  3. Watering: While Black Eyed Susan is drought tolerant once established, it’s essential to water newly planted or divided plants regularly. Water deeply at the base of the plant, and avoid overhead watering to prevent diseases.

  4. Fertilization: Black Eyed Susan typically doesn’t require heavy fertilization. However, for poor soil or to enhance flower production, you can apply a balanced slow-release fertilizer in early spring.

  5. Support: Some taller varieties of Black Eyed Susan may require staking or support to prevent them from flopping over. Place stakes or install a trellis early in the season to provide necessary support.

RELATED  How To Plant Seed Potato [ Full Guide ]

Dealing With Pests And Diseases

While Black Eyed Susan is generally resistant to pests and diseases, it is still susceptible to a few common issues. Here’s what you need to know about handling pests and diseases that might affect your Black Eyed Susan plants:

  1. Aphids: Aphids are small insects that often infest the tender growth tips of plants, sucking sap from the leaves and causing distortion. To control aphids, you can spray a strong jet of water to dislodge them from the plants or use insecticidal soap.

  2. Leaf spots: Leaf spots on Black Eyed Susan can be caused by fungal diseases such as Septoria leaf spot or powdery mildew. Ensure proper spacing between plants to provide good air circulation and avoid overhead watering. If leaf spots occur, promptly remove and dispose of the affected leaves to prevent the spread of the disease.

  3. Caterpillars: Some species of caterpillars may feed on the leaves of Black Eyed Susan. Handpicking caterpillars and regularly inspecting plants can help control their populations. If infestations are severe, you can use organic insecticides specifically formulated to target caterpillars.

  4. Rust: Rust is a fungal disease that can affect Black Eyed Susan, causing reddish-orange pustules on the undersides of leaves. Remove and destroy infected leaves, improving air circulation, and avoiding overhead watering can help prevent rust.

It’s worth noting that Black Eyed Susan’s sturdy nature often helps it resist most pests and diseases. Regular pruning and maintenance practices, such as deadheading and proper spacing, enhance the plant’s overall health and resilience.

Additional Tips And Considerations

In addition to the above guidelines, here are a few more tips and considerations when planting Black Eyed Susan:

  1. Companion plants: Black Eyed Susan can be paired with other sun-loving perennials such as purple coneflowers, ornamental grasses, and bee balm to create a vibrant and diverse garden display.

  2. Attracting pollinators: Planting Black Eyed Susan will attract various pollinators like bees and butterflies to your garden. If you want to maximize pollinator attraction, provide a variety of nectar-rich flowers throughout the season.

  3. Cut flowers: Black Eyed Susan flowers make lovely cut flowers and can be used in floral arrangements. Harvest the flowers early in the day when they are fully open and place them immediately in water for long-lasting blooms.

  4. Winter care: In colder regions, apply a generous layer of mulch around the plants in late fall to protect the roots from freezing. Once the foliage dies back, cut it down to ground level to prevent potential disease issues.

  5. Seed collection: Black Eyed Susan produces seeds in the fall, which can be harvested for future propagation. Allow the flower heads to dry on the plants before collecting the seeds. Store them in a cool, dry place until ready to plant.


Black Eyed Susan is a versatile and low-maintenance perennial flower that adds a splash of vibrant color to any garden. By following these planting and care tips, you’ll be well on your way to cultivating a beautiful and thriving display of Black Eyed Susan in your own backyard. Enjoy the beauty and benefits these charming flowers bring, attracting pollinators and adding a touch of natural elegance to your outdoor space.


What Is The Best Time Of Year To Plant Black Eyed Susan?

Black eyed susan plants should be planted in the spring or early summer, after the last frost has passed. This will give the plants time to establish in the warm weather before the colder months.

How Much Sunlight Do Black Eyed Susans Need?

Black eyed susans thrive in full sun, meaning they need at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily. However, they can tolerate some partial shade, especially in hotter climates.

What Type Of Soil Is Best For Black Eyed Susans?

Black eyed susans prefer well-draining, moist soil that is rich in organic matter. They can grow in a variety of soil types, but avoid heavy clay soils as they will not drain well and can cause the plants to rot.

How Far Apart Should Black Eyed Susans Be Planted?

When planting black eyed susans, space them out about 18-24 inches apart. This will allow for proper air circulation and room for the plants to spread as they grow.

Do Black Eyed Susans Need Regular Watering?

While these plants are drought tolerant, they will benefit from regular watering, especially during the hotter months. It is important to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. You can reduce watering once the plants are established.