The black-eyed Susan is a widespread native of the prairie states, and has become a horticultural delight. The name "gloriosa daisy" has been applied to the multitude of varieties that have grown out of this prairie weed. Although they're short-lived perennials, they'll bloom the first year and are often grown as annuals.
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Description of black-eyed Susan: Varieties of black-eyed Susan grow from 1 to 3 feet tall and are relatively erect. The flowers are available in many warm-toned colors: yellow, gold, orange, russet, and mahogany. Many of them have bands of color intermixed. The single varieties all have a large black or brown center, contrasting with the color surrounding it. Double flowers may reach 6 inches in diameter.
Growing black-eyed Susan: Bright sun is the gloriosa daisy's main requirement. It will tolerate poor soil and erratic watering, although it does flourish with better care. Transplant it into the garden in the spring after the last frost. Space plants 10 to 15 inches apart. The taller varieties may need protection from strong winds or staking to keep them from toppling. Cutting the flowers encourages increased blooming.
Propagating black-eyed Susan: By seed. Treated as biennials or perennials, the seeds can be sown in the garden the preceding summer or fall. For bloom the same season, start seeds indoors 8 to 10 weeks prior to transplanting. Seeds germinate in 5 to 10 days at 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Uses for black-eyed Susan: Any sunny location is ideal. Beds, borders, and planting strips will benefit from them. Plant them with ornamental grasses. They'll do well in large containers and are good cut flowers.
Black-eyed Susan related varieties: Cherokee Sunset, an All-America Selections winner, is a mix of yellow, orange, and red doubles. Prairie Sun, also an All-America Selections winner, is a bicolor orange with primrose yellow tips. Rustic Colors is composed of many gold, bronze, and mahogany shades. Irish Eyes has golden flowers with green eyes. Autumn Colors strain has huge flowers in shades of yellow, orange, and red.
Scientific name of black-eyed Susan: Rudbeckia hirta