Native Plant Highlight: Black-Eyed Susan
Rudbeckia hirta L.
Common Black-Eyed Susan
Eastern and Central North America
USDA Hardiness Zones: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
This cheerful and sunny Wildflower sports bright-yellow, daisy-like blooms with a dark center, hence it’s accurately descriptive name. Black-Eyed Susans are an annual wildflower, meaning they follow their seed → flower → seed cycle in one growing season. The blooms sit atop sturdy, oval-leafed stems and grow up to 3 feet tall (although some ambitious plants are known to grow taller). These flowers make a beautiful addition to any pollinator garden, natural landscape, or bouquet!
The planting period for Black-Eyed Susans is March to May. Germination of the seeds (when the seed begins to grow and produces a shoot or seedling), can take anywhere from 7 to 30 days. These seeds like to be planted in moist, well-drained fertile soil, although they can withstand poorer conditions. Once they begin to grow, the hearty flowers love to bathe in the sun! While full sun is prefered, they’ll flourish in partial sun as well. Once established, you can expect your Susans to bloom from June through October. Come fall, Susans are known to self-sow via wind, meaning little to no re-planting of this flower is needed the following Spring!
Take note that Black-Eyed Susans can be territorial and like to be the dominant plant, seeking to squash out other plants in their area. To accommodate for this, we have suggestions:
- Plant the seeds spread further apart and around the perimeter of your garden to create a beautiful border.
- Companion planting! Some other hardy and beautiful plants that coexist well with the Susans are Day Lilies, Hollyhock, and Asters.
Ethno botanical: Native American tribes, particularly the Ojibwa, brewed a tea using the roots of the plant to treat ailments such as colds, worms, and earaches. It was also used as a topical wash or poultice to treat snakebites, sores, scratches, and swelling/infection. Many Homeopathic practices still use the Susan as an herbal remedy to this day!
Landscaping and wildlife: As we mentioned above, Black-eyed Susans create wonderful additions to your natural landscaping and should always be included in any pollinator garden - added bonus, they are hardy to many common pests and very deer resistant!
The nectar in the flowers attracts a many number of bees, butterflies, insects, and birds. The latter includes the American Goldfinch, Black-Capped Chickadee, Northern Cardinal, and White-Breasted Nuthatch.
Did you know that there’s such a thing as the Language of Flowers? Dating back thousands of years, back even before the practice of communicating via flowers boomed in Victorian England, flowers and their assigned meanings were woven into different cultures’ histories. Flowers have often been used to send cryptological messages - most commonly, to send sentiments of love and affection. While maybe not as romantic, the Black-Eyed Susans meaning is still poetic - the sunny blooms of this flower mean Justice.