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The Best Way to Plant a Black Eyed Susan

By Bridget Kelly ; Updated September 21, 2017
Plant black-eyed Susans in clumps in your wildflower garden.
black eyed susan image by sharon from Fotolia.com

Maryland’s state flower, the black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) is a mid-summer wildflower that is easy to care for. Growing to heights of 2 to 3 feet, black-eyed Susans bloom in orange or yellow daisy-like flowers with a black “eye\" in the center. The best way to plant black-eyed Susan is from seed, as the plants readily seed themselves in nature, according to University of Illinois Extension. Black-eyed Susans are hardy to U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3a to 9b.

Fill a gardening flat with seed starting mix approximately 10 weeks before your area's last frost date. Water the soil until the water runs out of the drainage holes and allow it to drain completely.

Scatter the black-eyed Susan seeds over the soil and lightly cover them with a layer of sand. Place the flat on the heat mat, set to 70 degrees F., in a well-lit area (out of direct sun).

Keep the soil moist while the seeds germinate, which should occur within seven to 30 days. When the seeds have sprouted, turn off the heat mat and allow the surface of the soil to dry before watering.

Transplant the black-eyed Susan seedlings into individual pots when they have 4 leaves. Fill the pots with standard potting soil and water it until the excess water drains from the bottom of the pots. Carefully scoop the seedlings from the flat and place the roots in a hole in the soil in the new pot. Pack the soil around the seedling.

Fertilize the seedlings with a diluted solution (half the recommended application on the fertilizer label) of fertilizer one week after transplanting and every week after until transplanted into the garden.

Harden off the seedlings when they are 10 weeks old. This involves getting them gradually accustomed to direct sun and the outdoor environment. Place the pots in the morning sun for one hour for the first three days and then increase the amount of sun they get, daily for two weeks.

Clear all weeds and turf from the planting area in the garden.

Dig up the soil in the planting area, using the gardening fork, to loosen the top 8 inches of soil. Dig planting holes for the black-eyed Susans that are the same depth and width as the pots in which they are growing. Turn the pots over and gently slide the plants out. Place the roots in the planting holes and pack the soil around them.

Water the planting area until the water puddles to settle the soil around the black-eyed Susans.



Things You Will Need

  • Gardening flat
  • Seed starting soil mix
  • Black-eyed Susan seeds
  • Heat mat
  • 4-inch planting pots
  • Potting soil
  • Fertilizer
  • Gardening fork
  • Gardening trowel


  • Can be direct seeded in the garden anytime during the growing season, according to the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, with late summer or early fall sowing resulting in the thickest stands.

About the Author


Based in the American Southwest, Bridget Kelly has been writing about gardening and real estate since 2005. Her articles have appeared at Trulia.com, SFGate.com, GardenGuides.com, RE/MAX.com, MarketLeader.com, RealEstate.com, USAToday.com and in "Chicago Agent" magazine, to name a few. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in creative writing.