Black-eyed Susans are at home on the flat, sweeping stretches of prairies that defined so much of America's open terrain and in addition to being a quintessential meadow flower will add late summer color to a flower border.
Annual, perennial, biennial
3 to 9
Sun to part shade
Complement to purple
Asters, Russian sage
Black-eyed Susans: A Field Guide
Was the poet Walt Whitman standing in the middle of a meadow full of black-eyed Susans, taking in the great sweep of the American prairie, when he was inspired to write: “I walk by myself—I stand and look at the stars, which I think now I never realized before?” It wouldn’t surprise us one bit.
Black-eyed Susans, most of which are types of Rudbeckia hirta or Rudbeckia fulgida, can be perennials, annuals, or biennials depending on the variety. Most have stridently cheerful yellow daisy flowers with a coal black center (there are some brown-eyed Susans as well).
Among our favorites to plant in a prairie garden or wildflower meadow are R. ‘Toto Rustic’ (a petite annual flower that grows to heights of 15 inches); R. ‘Radiance’ (which has unusual ruffly powderpuff flowers and is typically grown as an annual), and perennial R. fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’ with four-inch flowers and the classic single-daisy silhouette one associates with black-eyed Susans on the prairie.