Black eyed Susans are an American wildflower that is native to the western prairies. They are one of the first plants to start growing on land that has been cleared.
Rudbeckia hirta is the Latin name for them, although they are often confused with other varieties.
One thing that makes them different from most other wild flowers is that they have no scent. There is also very little history or folklore associated with black eyed Susans, most likely because there is no known medicinal use for them.
Black eyed Susans grow best in full sun, but they do not need super fertile soil to grow well. If the soil is too rich flower production will suffer.
You can start black eyed Susans from seed either indoors or by direct seeding in the garden. Plant seeds outdoors in early spring as soon as the temperatures are reliably above 60 degrees. When seedlings are about three inches high, thin so they stand about 1 1/2 feet apart. They will bloom the first year if started early enough.
They’re also available in spring as bedding plants. Remove any blooms on the transplants. This will encourage the plants to grow strong root systems and will reward you with more blooms later in the summer.
Space them about 1 1/2 feet apart and water until they get established. Once they are actively growing in your garden, black eyed Susans grow quite well without additional watering.
Divide them about every four or five years, or when you notice the flowers are getting smaller. Deadheading, or removing the spent flowers, will increase both the number of blooms and the blooming season.
Black eyed Susans are a low maintenance perennial that withstands drought and neglect easily.