Skip to Content
black eyed susan in the garden

How to Grow Black Eyed Susans

When and Where to Plant Black Eyed Susans (Rudbeckia)

Light: All varieties of Rudbeckia will thrive in full sun. However, some varieties, especially the Sweet Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia subtomentosa) and the perennial black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’) will also take partial shade.

Soil: All Rudbeckias tolerate a wide range of soil types, from clay to loam. If you have very sandy soil which dries out easily, add organic matter to help the soil retain moisture. If you have a very water-retentive soil, choose Sweet Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia subtomentosa).

Spacing: Plant Black-Eyed Susans about 18” apart.

Planting Rudbeckia from Seed: Sprinkle the seeds on top of regular seed starting mix about six weeks before the last frost date. Do not cover the seed as they need light to germinate. Plant your seedlings outdoors after any danger of frost has passed.

black eyed susan

Planting Rudbeckia from Plants: Providing all danger of frost has passed at your location, set your new plants out as soon as possible after you receive them. If additional frost is anticipated hold your plants in a sunny window and keep well-watered until it is safe to plant them outdoors.

  1. Prepare the site by removing existing weeds and loosening the soil.
  2. Make a hole a few inches wider that your young plant;
  3. Place your Rudbeckia in the hole (disturb the roots with your fingers if they're coming in thick), backfill with soil, tamp gently and water well.
black eyed susan roots
Black Eyed Susan with developed roots, ready to be planted.
planting black eyed susan
Planting Black Eyed Susan at soil level.

How to Grow Black-Eyed Susans Throughout the Season

Growth Habit: Rudbeckias are compact-growing plants that spread to no more than 2’ wide. Height varies with the variety; most are less than three feet high.

Staking: No staking is required.

Watering: Most Rudbeckias will tolerate dry soil for a few weeks. However, water weekly if you are experiencing a prolonged drought or your plants are showing signs of stress.

Fertilizing: Light fertilizing in springtime is beneficial but not required.

Trimming & Pruning: Regular dead-heading will prolong blooming and reduce self-seeding; otherwise leave seed heads intact for winter bird food.

bird landing on black eyed susan

Black Eyed Susans: End of Season Care

Pests and Diseases: Rudbeckias are generally carefree plants that do not attract pests.

Overwintering: Cut remaining stalks to the ground in either fall or spring.

Dividing & Transplanting: True perennial types, especially Rudbeckia 'Goldstrum' will benefit from dividing every three to five years. Leave any varieties designated as ‘short-lived perennial’ undisturbed.

To learn more about the plants we sell and how to grow them in your garden beds and patio containers, sign up for our inspiring emails.