A member of the daisy family, black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) is a flowering plant that can be grown as an annual, perennial or biennial, depending on the cultivar. The plant boasts blue-green foliage and bright yellow flowers that are accented by a dark brown "eye." A native of North America, black-eyed Susan can be seen throughout the country, in gardens and along roadsides and prairie lands.
Black-eyed Susan can easily be cultivated in the home garden to create a naturalized border or flower bed. The plant grows in a wide range of conditions, thriving in just about any soil type in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 10. Plant black-eyed Susan in full sun or light, dappled shade. Somewhat drought tolerant once established, black-eyed Susan should be watered occasionally during the summer months. Deadhead spent blooms to help keep the plant flowering.
Black-eyed Susans are excellent plants for bringing wildlife to the garden. The plant is often included in butterfly gardens. Black-eyed Susan may act as a larval host or as a nectar source for both the bordered patch butterfly (Chlosyne lacinia) and the gorgone checkerspot butterfly (Chlosyne gorgone). Some birds are attracted to the plant's seeds, and bees are commonly seen hovering around the flower heads.
Hot weather often makes flowers like spring-blooming tulips and roses harder to come by. Harvesting your backyard black-eyed Susans for cut flower bouquets is easy and inexpensive. With their stiff, long stems and long-lasting, colorful blooms, black-eyed Susans make ideal cut flowers. Snip the flower near the base of the plant and trim off leaves as desired. Leave one tall stem in vase for a simple, elegant look or place many together with complimentary summer-blooming flowers such as garden phlox (Phlox paniculata).