Blacked Eyed Susan

Black-Eyed Susan Rudbeckia

Black-Eyed Susan is surely one of the most beloved plants in the wildflower and perennial garden.  Most behave like biennials - growing clumps of foliage the first year and flowering the second.  (In long-season areas, some may flower in the first year). Black-Eyed Susans are very easy-care plants with no special requirements in the garden other than well-drained soil and full sun or near-full sun. 

Planting Black Eyed Susans The Black Eyed Susan needs need no special attention after planting. Give them a well drained, rich soil and they will grow great. They are sun worshippers so be sure to place in a sunny location. Height: 30" inches Spacing: 12-18" inches Depth: 1/8" inch Germination: 12-20 days Starting from Seed Indoors

Start rudbeckia seeds indoors about 6-8 weeks before the last frost date. Thoroughly moisten sterile, seed-starting mix then fill your flats, trays or pots to within ¼ inch of the top of the container. Put 1-2 seeds in each cell or small pot, then press seeds gently into the surface but do not bury them. Germination of perennial varieties started indoors may improve if placed in a cold area or the refrigerator for 4 weeks after planting the seeds, then moving them back into the warmer temperatures.

Place in a warm location until seeds begin to grow about 5-14 days later. A room temperature of 70ºF-72ºF is ideal for starting seeds. After seedlings appear, move the container to a bright, sunny window or place under plant lights. When seedlings have a couple sets of leaves, thin to the strongest plant by pinching or cutting excess seedlings at the soil line.

Before transplanting the tender seedlings into the garden they need to be hardened-off, allowing them to adjust to the outdoor conditions. Place seedlings outdoors in a shaded or protected location for short periods of time, about 4 hours per day to start. Each day, leave plants outdoors for a couple hours longer and gradually move into brighter light conditions. Check the soil often to make sure it’s moist and water if necessary. After 10-14 days plant in the garden.

Direct-seeding into the Garden

Black-eyed Susans are easy to start directly in the garden, generally when daytime temperatures are around 60ºF. Perennial varieties can be sown in fall or early spring. Scatter seeds then gently press them into the soil or cover very lightly with soil. Water regularly so the seedbed stays moist. As seedlings grow, thin to 6-8 inches apart.

Garden Preferences

  • Soil—Rudbeckias tolerate a range of soil types but prefer a moist, well-drained soil that’s not too rich. Excess fertilizer can make plants weak and cause flower stems to flop. Water when the soil is dry to maintain even moisture.
  • Sunlight—All rudbeckias thrive in full sun. They grow well in light shade, but flowers may be smaller and fewer in number.
  • Days to Bloom—Annual rudbeckias begin blooming about 10-12 weeks after planting seeds. Perennial varieties will bloom the first year in the garden if started early.
  • Plant Care—To promote blooming and extend the flowering period, remove or deadhead faded flowers by pinching off the blooms at the base of the flower stem. If you want to attract birds, leave old flowers on the plant so they can go to seed. Be aware that rudbeckia often self-seeds, resulting in new seedlings sprouting up around the garden. Extra plants may need to be removed or transplanted to prevent crowding.
  • Perennial rudbeckias require little maintenance. They do not need to be divided regularly like many other perennials because the center of the plant does not die out. However, if you want to move crowded plants or produce extra plants for your garden, divide clumps in early spring, just as growth begins to develop.

Germination Problems

Growing plants from seeds successfully depends on a lot of factors and this makes it impossible to guarantee success on every batch of seeds planted.  Factors include, soil composition, PH, temperature, moisture levels, seed depth, soil density, seed viabilty, seed storage and many others.  We tested the germination of all our seeds and this seed variety is around 85%, but your results may vary based on exactly how you plant and all the environmental factors.  Good luck.