Propagate black eyed susan

Growing Black Eyed Susan Vines: How To Propagate A Black Eyed Susan Vine

If you’re fond of the cheery summer face of the black eyed Susan flower, you may also want to try growing black eyed Susan vines. Grow as a hanging houseplant or an outdoor climber. Use this reliable and cheerful plant as you choose, as it has many uses in all sunny landscapes.

Growing Black Eyed Susan Vines

Rapidly growing black eyed Susan vines quickly cover a fence or trellis for perky summer flair in the landscape. Thunbergia alata may be grown as an annual in USDA zones 9 and lower and as a perennial in zones 10 and above. Those in cooler zones can overwinter black eyed Susan vines indoors, in a greenhouse or as a houseplant. Be sure to bring interior plants outside in summer as an important part of the care of black eyed Susan vine.

When growing black eyed Susan vines in the ground, learning how to propagate a black eyed Susan vine is simple. Black eyed Susan vine seeds may be available from friends and family who are growing the plant but are often available in packets too. Small bedding plants and lush hanging baskets are sometimes sold at local garden centers as well.

How to Propagate a Black Eyed Susan Vine

Black eyed Susan vine seeds easily grow to get the plant started. Where you live and your climate will dictate when to plant black eyed Susan vine outdoors. Temperatures should be 60 F. (15 C.) before planting black eyed Susan vine seeds or starts outside. Seeds may be started inside a few weeks before outdoor temperatures warm.

You can also allow black eyed Susan vine seeds to drop after flowering is done, resulting in volunteer specimens the next year. As seedlings emerge, thin to allow room for growth.

Learning how to propagate a black eyed Susan vine may include propagation from cuttings as well. Take four to six inch cuttings below a node from a healthy plant and root them in small containers in moist soil. You’ll know when to plant black eyed Susan vine outdoors when cuttings show root growth. A gentle tug will exhibit resistance on a plant that is rooted.

Plant rooted cuttings in a moist sunny location. Container growing black eyed Susan vines may benefit from afternoon shade in warmer areas.

Additional care of black eyed Susan vine includes pinching back spent blooms and limited fertilization.

Thunbergia alata is a fast-growing, free-flowering vine.

Black-eyed Susan vine is commonly grown in the Midwest as a season annual to provide color in a vertical setting. This plant, Thunbergia alata, is actually a tender evergreen perennial in the acanthus family (Acanthaceae) native from tropical East Africa to eastern South Africa that is hardy only in zone 9 and 10 (and is completely unrelated to Rudbeckia hirta, an herbaceous annual or short-lived perennial in the daisy family (Compositae) native to north America, also commonly called black-eyed Susan). Because it grows and flowers relatively quickly it is often used as an annual ornamental garden plant in cooler areas. It should be used with caution in frost-free areas as it has become invasive in many warm locations throughout the world.

This trailing or twining vine grows rapidly from seeds, reaching up to 8 feet in a single season under ideal conditions, but more often only 3 to 5 feet in the

This vine grows by twisting around supports (L) and has heart-shaped, softly hairy leaves (R).

Midwest (and much more in frost free climates). The plant is a rambler, climbing by twining (growing in a spiral up a support) rather than by clinging or producing tendrils as some other vines do. The opposite, oval to triangular or heart-shaped leaves grow up to 3 inches long on winged petioles. They are soft and hairy, dull dark green on the upper surface and pale green with prominent veins below, with slightly toothed margins.

Showy flowers in shades of orange and yellow are produced singly in the leaf axils. Each 1½ inch wide flower emerges from a small yellow-green calyx enclosed in 2 large, ridged, hairy, green bracts. The trumpet-shaped corolla opens flat with five overlapping petals surrounding the brownish-maroon center.

Showy flowers (RC, from side and R from front) emerge (LC) from hairy bracts (L).

Pollinated flowers develop a fruit (LC) enclosed in the green bracts (L), which ripens and dries (RC) to a tan color.

Plants bloom from mid-summer to frost, often with the best display in late summer. The species typically has brilliant orange flowers, but there are cultivars in pastels and white as well. Butterflies, bees and hummingbirds will visit the flowers.

Each fruit releases a number of reticulate seeds.

Seeds are often produced late in the season. The fruit resembles a bird’s head with a round base and a long ‘beak’. Each fruit contains 2 or 4 semicircular, reticulate seeds.

Black-eyed Susan vine will quickly cover small structures.

Black-eyed Susan vine does best when allowed to grow on some sort of support structure instead of just rambling through adjacent plants, although it can be used as a ground cover. It makes a dramatic focal point when grown on a tall tuteur or other decorative support in a border or bed, will cover a fence, arbor or trellis along a wall for decoration or to create a quick privacy screen, and will

This vine will cascade down walls or from hanging baskets in addition to climbing.

cascade from a hanging basket (as well as grow up the hangers). Try combining black-eyed Susan vine with other aggressive vines such as morning glory or purple hyacinth bean. The orange or yellow flowers would contrast nicely with purple or blue flowers, such as salvia or ageratum, or purple-foliaged plants (such as Persian shield or purple heart) planted adjacent to the vine’s trellis. Use hot-colored flowers such as tall red zinnias, orange marigolds, or bright yellow celosia for a completely different look.

Cultivars offer different colors than orange.

Or combine them with bright red cannas and large elephant ears for a tropical look.

White, orange and yellow Thunbergia alata in a large container.

This vine can be used in a large container with a small trellis, and can be grown as an indoor plant (although it will likely need to be trained and pruned to keep it at a manageable size). Plants in containers will bloom over winter if kept in a sunny place and night temperatures are above 60 degrees.

In frost-free climates this vine is perennial and will grow very dense.

The vine will quickly fill narrow vertical spaces with color.

Thunbergia alata grows best in rich, moist soil in full sun. It tolerates partial shade but flowering may be reduced. Seed can be sown directly where the plants are to be grown once soil temperature reaches 60F in the spring, but transplants give better results in the short growing season of the upper Midwest. Plant near the trellis, fence, or other support structure, 14-16” apart. Fertilize every 2 to 3 weeks when in bloom if grown in containers. Outdoors blackeyed Susan vine has few pest problems, but if grown indoors it is readily infested by spider mites and whiteflies.

Black-eyed Susan vine is most often propagated from seed.

This plant is most commonly propagated from seed (although softwood cuttings can be taken or stems layered, too, but plants grown from seed tend to be more vigorous). Start seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the average last frost, and plant outside once all danger of frost has passed and night temperatures remain above 50F. Soaking the seeds in warm water overnight before sowing will speed germination. Press the seeds into the soil, covering completely. Seeds should germinate in 10-21 days. Plants grown in containers can be overwintered indoors in a warm, very bright room.

There are many different.cultivars available.

Often just the basic orange type is offered for sale as plants or seeds, but there are many cultivars. Some of the more common or interesting ones available include:

  • ‘African Sunset’ – includes shades from cream to brick red
  • ‘Arizona Dark Red’ – has intense deep orange-red flowers
  • ‘Blushing Susie’ – is a mix in shades of apricot and rose and dark centers
  • ‘Bright Eyes’ – has all white flowers
  • ‘Canary Eyes’ – offers yellow flowers with a dark center
  • Lemon A-Peel™ – has bright yellow flowers with a very dark center
  • Orange A-Peel® – PP14767 has bright orange flowers
  • ‘Orange Wonder’ – all bright orange without the dark center
  • A yellow cultivar.

    ‘Pure White’ – all white flowers

  • ‘Raspberry Smoothie’ – has pale lilac-pink flowers and more grey-green foliage
  • ‘Spanish Eyes’ – is a mixture of flower colors in more muted shades of apricot, terra cotta, salmon, rose and ivory, all with a dark center
  • ‘Superstar Orange’ – has extra large, bright orange flowers
  • ‘Susie’ mix – includes orange, yellow and white flowers with or without contrasting dark eyes

– Susan Mahr, University of Wisconsin – Madison


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With golden daisy-like blooms and cheery brown or black button centers, Black-eyed Susans are the perfect plant for months and months of reliable color. “Nearly everyone who has seen these plants loves them because of their almost smiley-face appearance and color,” says plant breeder Brent Horvath, owner of Intrinsic Perennial Gardens. “They’re not fussy, and they have a long bloom time, which makes them appealing for many gardeners.”

Here’s what you need to know to grow these happy, hardy plants:

What kinds of Black-eyed Susans should you plant?

Black-eyed Susans, also known by their botanical name of Rudbeckia hirta, are sometimes called gloriosa daisies. They grow in USDA Hardiness zones 3 to 9 (check your zone here). They come in a range of heights from 2 to 4 feet tall, though some types can be up to 7 feet tall. They typically spread about 18” to 3 feet wide in large clumps. They attract butterflies, and many types bloom from mid-summer until mid-fall. And good news: Deer and rodents generally leave them alone!

There are different species, some of which are perennial so they come back every year. But others are considered biennials (they last two years), so they’re treated like annuals and replanted every year. Read the plant tag to be sure what kind you’re getting.

Black Eyed Susan Seeds edenbrothers.com $3.50

The Top Varieties to Try:

  • American Gold Rush (compact and disease-resistant)
  • Indian Summer (large flowers)
  • Autumn Sun (grows up to 7 feet tall)
  • Prairie Sun (pretty pale yellow tips with green centers)

Where can I buy Black-eyed Susans?

Garden centers sell Black-eyed Susans from spring to fall. You also can find a wider selection of plants from online retailers. Look for plants that appear healthy with nice, green leaves, not yellow or brown and spotted foliage, which may indicate they’re infected with a fungus called Septoria leaf spot. You may find seeds, too, for some varieties, which you can sow in the spring.

When should I plant Black-eyed Susans?

If it’s a perennial type, get them in the ground in spring so they return next year. If you plant them in autumn, they’ll provide pretty fall color but likely won’t get their roots sufficiently established in time to survive the winter. No worries! Enjoy them for the season, and replant new ones next year.

How do I plant Black-eyed Susans?

Black-eyed Susans need full sun, which means about six hours per day. Dig a hole slightly bigger than the pot, and place the plant in the hole level with the soil in the top of the pot. You don’t want the root ball to be buried too deeply or to be sticking up and exposing roots. Mulch around the base of the plant to preserve moisture, but don’t cover the foliage (burying the leaves leads to disease). Or plant in a decorative pot to provide seasonal color. They’re not heavy feeders, so you don’t need to fertilize. Water well after planting.

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How do I care for Black-eyed Susans?

Once established, Black-eyed Susan plants bloom better if you water occasionally during dry spells. You can deadhead, or clip off old blooms, to encourage the plant to keep blooming. Or you can leave the seed heads over the winter for the birds and to provide some interest in the winter landscape.

In early spring, don’t be too quick to pull them up if it looks like nothing is happening. The growth comes from the base, so it takes time, especially after a hard winter. If you want to make more plants, cut off pieces from the edge of the plant with a garden spade in mid-spring and plant elsewhere in your garden. Or dig up the whole plant and divide into four pieces, says Horvath.

Pretty Black Eyed Susans for Your Garden

Goldsturm Black Eyed Susan plant amazon.com $14.95

Perennial type for long-lasting blooms

Black-Eyed Susan amazon.com $4.99

Pretty reddish-orange type of Black-eyed Susan

Black-eyed Susan seeds amazon.com $8.99

Sprinkle seeds over your beds in spring.

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Arricca Elin Sansone Arricca SanSone has written about health and lifestyle topics for Prevention, Country Living, Woman’s Day, and more.

Q. On my daily commute, I pass an industrial area that is enclosed by a fence covered with vines that have bright orange flowers with dark centers. They always seem to be nice and green and flowering. It looks like a perfect solution to a section of unsightly chain-link fence that I have at the back of my garden. Can you possibly identify it for me?

A. From your description, I suspect that the vine is Thunbergia alata, commonly called the Black-eyed Susan vine. This African native is a perennial vine in frost-free locations but is commonly grown as an annual in colder climates. In our mild Southern California climate, it is likely to live for many years without being killed or seriously damaged by cold weather.

Black-eyed Susan vine has a twining growth habit and should easily reach the top of your fence in a few months. The leaves are somewhat heart-shaped and the tubular flowers are up to two inches across. Although the orange flowers attracted your attention, there are many named cultivars that have flowers that are white, light yellow, apricot, and even a rosy color too. It grows best in full sun, is tolerant of most soil conditions, and will need normal garden water.

You may find container plants offered for sale at garden centers, as well as seeds. Container plants may be planted year-around, but if you decide to plant from seed, keep in mind that seeds of Black-eyed Susan vine grow best planted when the soil is warm in the spring or early summer.

If you choose to grow from seed and want to get an early start, you could plant your seeds indoors about six weeks before the spring planting season. Just fill small pots with a commercial seed -starting soil mix and plant one or two seeds per pot. Keep the soil in the pots lightly moist but not wet. It is likely to take close to two weeks for the seeds to germinate at normal room temperatures. Once they germinate, make sure the seedlings have strong, indirect light to prevent them from growing too lanky.

As spring planting time approaches, harden the seedlings off, then set the plants one to two feet apart along your fence. After planting in the ground, growth will be rapid, and flowering is likely to begin in about six weeks. Leftover plants do nicely in hanging baskets too.

One final comment, when shopping, you should be careful not to confuse the Black-eyed Susan vine, Thunbergia alata, with Black-eyed Susan plant, Rudbeckia hirta. Although their common names are similar, they are very different plants.

Black Eyed Susan Vine Care – Tips On Growing A Black Eyed Susan Vine

Black-eyed Susan vine plant is a tender perennial that is grown as an annual in temperate and cooler zones. You can also grow the vine as a houseplant but be wary as it may grow to 8 feet in length. Black-eyed Susan vine care is most successful when you can mimic the plant’s native African climate. Try growing a black-eyed Susan vine indoors or out for a bright cheery flowering vine.

Black Eyed Susan Vine Plant

Thunbergia alata, or black-eyed Susan vine, is a common houseplant. This is probably because it is easy to propagate from stem cuttings and, therefore, easy for owners to pass along a piece of the plant.

A native of Africa, the vine needs warm temperatures but also requires shelter from the hottest rays of the sun. Stems and leaves are green and flowers are usually a deep yellow, white or orange with black centers. There are also red, salmon and ivory flowered varieties.

Black-eyed Susan is a fast growing vine that needs a vertical stand or trellis to support the plant. The vines twine around themselves and anchor the plant to vertical structures.

Growing a Black Eyed Susan Vine

You can grow a black-eyed Susan vine from seed. Start seeds indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost, or outdoors when soils warm to 60 F. (16 C.). Seeds will emerge in 10 to 14 days from planting if temperatures are 70 to 75 F. (21-24 C.). It may take up to 20 days for emergence in cooler zones.

Growing a black-eyed Susan vine from cuttings is easier. Overwinter the plant by cutting several inches from a terminal end of a healthy plant. Remove the bottom leaves and place in a glass of water to root. Change the water every couple of days. Once you have thick roots, plant the start in potting soil in a pot with good drainage. Grow the plant until spring and then transplant outdoors when temperatures warm up and there is no possibility of frost.

Place plants in full sun with afternoon shade or partial shade locations when growing a black-eyed Susan vine. The vine is only hardy in USDA plant hardiness zones 10 and 11. In other zones, bring in the plant to overwinter indoors.

How to Care for Black Eyed Susan Vines

This plant has some special needs so you will need a few tips on how to care for black-eyed Susan vines.

Firstly, the plant requires well-drained soil, but it will tend to wilt if the soil gets too dry. The moisture level, especially for plants in pots, is a fine line. Keep it moderately moist but never soggy.

Black-eyed Susan vine care outdoors is easy as long as you water moderately, give the plant a trellis and deadhead. You can prune it lightly in the higher zones where it grows as a perennial to keep the plant on the trellis or line. Young plants will benefit from plant ties to help them establish on their growing structure.

Growing a black-eyed Susan vine indoors requires a bit more maintenance. Fertilize potted plants once annually in spring with a water-soluble plant food. Provide a stake to grow up or plant in a hanging basket and let the vines droop down gracefully.

Watch for pests like whitefly, scale or mites and combat with horticultural soap or neem oil.

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