How to Grow Black-Eyed Susans

There's a reason these cheerful blooms are so popular.

  • Choose the right type of black-eyed Susans for your garden and space.
  • Prepare in-ground garden soil by adding Miracle-Gro® Garden Soil for Flowers.
  • Plant black-eyed Susans in full sun in spring or early fall.
  • Water plants thoroughly at the time of planting and as needed throughout the season.
  • Feed plants once at the beginning of the growing season with Miracle-Gro® Shake 'n Feed® Rose & Bloom Plant Food.
  • Deadhead to keep plants tidy and encourage more blooms.
  • Let plants stand through the winter to provide food for birds.

Looking for a pretty plant that is practically indestructible? You want black-eyed Susans! There's a reason almost every perennial garden and landscape has these cheerful yellow flowers tucked somewhere in the mix. They're simply hard to beat when it comes to easy growing and big bloom power. What's more, black-eyed Susans are a great addition to a pollinator garden. Birds (especially goldfinches), butterflies, and hummingbirds eat the seeds or sip nectar from the plants.

How to Choose Black-Eyed Susans

Here's a bit of botany for you: Black-eyed Susans are in the plant genus Rudbeckia, which contains both perennial and annual types. If you're looking for perennials, you want Rudbeckia fulgida. The annual varieties you see growing along the side of the road are Rudbeckia hirta.

Why bother with the botany? Well, if you want black-eyed Susans that come back year after year, you'll want to make sure you're getting the perennial type, so check the genus name on the plant tag. If you shop the perennial aisle of the garden center, you should be all set. Wildflower packets will usually contain the annual types, but check the list of contents to be sure.

Where to Plant Black-Eyed Susans

Black-eyed Susans grow best in full sun (at least 6 to 8 hours per day). They can tolerate some shade, but you might eventually find them stretching and spreading toward the light. It's also a good idea to plant them where you won't mind seeing more of them, as both perennial and annual black-eyed Susans are prolific re-seeders, plus perennial varieties also spread by underground stems.

When deciding where to place flowers in a garden bed, something you always want to consider is how tall they will get. Different varieties of black-eyed Susans mature to different heights. Some max out at 18 inches, while others can be up to 4 or even 6 feet tall. Check the plant tag to see how high yours are expected to get so you'll know where to put them.

When to Plant Black-Eyed Susans

Plant black-eyed Susans in either the spring or early fall. As long as they have a chance to establish roots before the weather gets either extremely hot or extremely cold, they'll be fine.

Black eyes susans

How to Prepare the Soil for Planting Black-Eyed Susans

Black-eyed Susans can grow in almost every type of garden soil except for consistently soggy soil, though of course better soil will lead to better plants. Make sure to get your plants off to their best start by preparing the in-ground planting area with Miracle-Gro® Garden Soil for Flowers. Mix 3 inches of this nutrient-filled garden soil into the top 6 inches of existing soil, or create a 50:50 blend for individual planting holes. For maximum beautiful blooms, combine great soil with the power of just the right plant food—be sure to check out the "How to Feed Black-Eyed Susans" section below.

How to Plant Black-Eyed Susans

1.    Check the plant tag to find out how far apart to space your black-eyed Susans, then place the plants on top of the soil so you'll know where to dig.

2.    Dig holes that are slightly wider than, and just as deep as, each plant's root ball.

3.    For a boost of nutrition, drop Miracle-Gro® Quick Start® Planting Tablets into the planting holes, following label directions.

4.    Remove plants from containers and place in the holes, checking to make sure that the top of each plant's root ball is even with (or just slightly higher than) the surrounding soil.

5.    Fill in around each plant, firmly packing the soil, then water deeply.

6.    Mulch lightly (a 2-inch layer is perfect) to help keep soil moist and block sunlight so weeds can't grow, taking care to keep the mulch away from the plant stems.

How to Stake Black-Eyed Susans

There are plenty of black-eyed Susans that don't grow taller than 2 feet and won't need to be staked. However, if you're growing taller varieties, you may need to provide some support. Simply stick a stake into the ground near (but not through) the center of each plant and use twine to tie individual stems to the stake. Another option is to use 2 or 3 stakes and weave a little lattice around the plant stems, which allows them to gracefully bend at different angles.

How to Water Black-Eyed Susans

Black-eyed Susans do not need much extra water once they're comfy and established in the garden. You do need to water them when you first plant them, though, to help the plants grow new roots and settle in. Water well whenever the top inch of soil around the plants is dry. (A good rule of thumb: If you see the leaves drooping, the plant needs water.) Keep in mind, though, that over-watering will cause more problems with black-eyed Susans than under-watering. When in doubt about whether or not to water, wait another day.

close up of Black eyed susans

How to Feed Black-Eyed Susans

As new leaves begin to sprout in the spring, feed black-eyed Susans with Miracle-Gro® Shake 'n Feed® Rose & Bloom Plant Food. With natural ingredients like earthworm castings, bone meal, and kelp, this ultra-effective fertilizer will encourage loads of colorful blooms.

How to Deal with Problems with Black-Eyed Susans

Powdery mildew will sometimes coat the leaves of black-eyed Susans during hot, humid summers. To help prevent it, aim water at the base of each plant so the leaves stay dry, and make sure you've left enough space between plants to allow for good airflow.

How to Deadhead and Prune Black-Eyed Susans

Black-eyed Susans will bloom longer if you deadhead them, which means cutting off spent, faded, or dried up flowers once they're past their prime. Always cut the stem back to just beyond a leaf so you don't leave dead, dried-up stems poking out. Once blooming slows down, though, be sure to leave some flowers to produce seed for birds to eat and to grow into new plants next season.

To extend the blooming season, cut some black-eyed Susan stems back by a third in early summer. The ones you cut back will bloom after the ones you didn't cut back, so you'll get to enjoy the flowers for a longer period of time.

How to Divide Black-Eyed Susans

As black-eyed Susans spread and re-seed, they will begin to crowd each other. To keep plants thriving, dig up clumps of them in the spring right after the plants start leafing out and separate them with a fork or spade (or just cut the clumps in half). Re-plant, giving the clumps some additional room, and follow the directions above for newly planted black-eyed Susans.