If you are a big lover of plants that feature both luxurious foliage and vibrant, delicate flowers, look no further than Thunbergia alata a.k.a. Black-eyed Susan vine! This gorgeous plant will make the perfect addition to your plant family even if you are a neglectful gardener.
The black-eyed Susan vine is very easy to grow, care for, and *drum rolls* propagate. It is a popular ornamental plant worldwide, with many gardeners appreciating it for its unique blooms, easy-going nature, and irresistible charm.
Thunbergia alata, usually known in cultivation as the Black-eyed Susan vine, is a herbaceous flowering plant. An important member of the Acanthaceae family, this species can be found growing natively in several regions of Eastern Africa.
Thanks to its adaptability, this flowering plant has become naturalized in many other parts of the world including Southern US, Colombia, Hawaii, Mexico, eastern Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and India, among others.
About Black-Eyed Susan Vine
- 1 About Black-Eyed Susan Vine
- 2 Black-Eyed Susan Vine Features: An Overview
- 3 Growing Black-Eyed Susan Vine
- 4 Planting Black-Eyed Susan Vine
- 5 Watering Black-Eyed Susan Vine
- 6 Propagating Black-Eyed Susan Vine
- 7 In Conclusion
- Without a doubt, the Thunbergia alata plant is a great annual flowering vine that will bring you to any garden. This plant will surprise you with its various cultivars that you can choose from, such as ‘Angel Wings’, ‘African Sunset’, ‘Bakeri’, ‘Aurantiaca’, ‘Susie Mix’, ‘Spanish Eyes’, or ‘ Bright Eyes’, ‘Raspberry Smoothie’, ‘Pure White’, and ‘Superstar Orange’.
- The Black-eyed Susan vine is considered an aggressive and invasive plant in Australia, Singapore, Japan, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Costa Rica, Colombia, Paraguay, and many islands in the Pacific, so you might want to avoid growing it if you live in a region where the plant is already an issue.
- It is believed that the common name “Black-eyed Susan” comes from a character that appears in numerous traditional ballads and songs like the “Ballad of Black-eyed Susan” by John Gray.
- Its climbing overall growth habit makes this plant an excellent addition for hanging baskets and near arbours, fences, or trellises. The Black-eyed Susan vine is also a great plant for cottage gardens, butterfly gardens, Mediterranean gardens, and all sorts of cute pots and planters, but you can also plant it in large containers to keep on your patio or even on a balcony.
- In case you cannot provide your Black-eyed Susan vine with natural support on which it could climb, it would be wise to opt for artificial support to make sure the plant grows at its best.
- The Black-eyed Susan vine does well in full sun but will benefit from some afternoon shade in areas with hot summers. This plant grows nicely in moist, well-draining substrates that are fertile and rich in organic matter.
- Thunbergia alata will look absolutely amazing near other species of plants that have similar environmental demands. Some of the most common companions for it are Calibrachoa, Lobelia, Sage, Veronica, African Daisy, Zinnia, Marigold, Celosia, Canna Lily, and Sweet Potato vine. You can also combine the black-eyed Susan vine with other aggressive vines such as Purple Hyacinth Bean and Morning Glory.
- Thunbergia alata, commonly known as the black-eyed Susan vine can make a great focal point when trained to climb on a tall trellis or other types of decorative support, but it can also be used to make a flowering plants border or in garden beds.
- You can use this flowering plant to create an attractive privacy screen, or, if you don’t want to grow it in your garden you can let it cascade from a hanging basket or use it to make an indoor plant wall.
- The Black-eyed Susan vine plays a big part in traditional medicine. Some folks use parts of this vine as a treatment against inflammatory diseases, malaria, fever, flu, cough, backache, digestive issues, and skin boils. Moreover, some studies have shown that the plant has antifungal, antimicrobial, antiviral, and sun-protective effects.
- What is great about the Black-eyed Susan vine is that it does not have any toxic effects on either humans or pets if they get in touch with it. You can keep this vine anywhere you want without worrying about the safety of your kids, cats, or dogs.
Black-Eyed Susan Vine Features: An Overview
- The black-eyed Susan vine belongs to the Thunbergia genus which comprises between 100 and 150 species. The plant shares this genus with other showy species like T. atriplicifolia, T. battiscombei, T. erecta, T. fragrans, T. grandiflora, T. laurifolia, and T. mysorensis.
- The black-eyed Susan vine is a herbaceous perennial species. This plant can reach from 3 to 8 feet (0.9-2.4 m) in height and 3 to 6 feet (0.9-1.8 m) in width only in one season (grown as an annual). In frost-free areas, it can grow as tall as 20 feet (6 m).
- Its dense, eye-catching foliage consists of many lush, heart or arrow-shaped, and evergreen leaves that emerge on long, twining stems. The leaves typically measure about 1.4 to 2.8 inches (3.5-7 cm) in length and around one inch (2.5 cm) in diameter.
- The black-eyed Susan vine is a rambler that climbs by twining (more specifically, it grows in a spiral slowly covering a vertical surface) rather than by clinging or by using tendrils as some other vine plants do.
- Due to its fast-spreading nature, the black-eyed Susan vine can also be used as a ground cover.
- The black-eyed Susan vine blooms from spring through fall. During this long flowering period, the plant exhibits lots of single, hairy, five-petaled, and delicate-looking flowers. They have 2 inches (5 cm) across.
- The blossoms of the black-eyed Susan vine are yellowish-orange and feature dark purple-black throats. However, other cultivars show up in different shades of cream, white, apricot, pale yellow, pink, salmon, or red.
- After its blooming season, the Black-eyed Susan vine may bear fruits. They are small and peculiar-looking capsules that contain several seeds which are great as propagation material.
Growing Black-Eyed Susan Vine
The black-eyed Susan vine will most likely be the healthiest plant in your garden and it will enchant you with lots of flowers every season if you spoil it with full sunlight exposure.
Make sure you choose a spot for this plant where it can experience at least six hours of bright and direct light on most days. These particular lighting conditions are viable for absolutely any area you live in except for the ones that are extremely hot and dry.
If you live in a region that gets very hot summers, we suggest you grow your vine in a semi-shaded spot, as the plant will need some protection from the harsh afternoon sunlight.
It will be useful to know that the black-eyed Susan vine is a true perennial and a cold-hardy species only in USDA zones 10 to 11. Outside this small area of hardiness, in cooler climates, gardeners need to treat this plant as an annual.
- The vining black-eyed susan is beautiful! Grows well on trellis, adding color to your landscape!
- Fantastic addition to your home flower garden! This flower is a golden yellow with a black eye in the center.
- Moderate watering - partial shade and late summer to early fall blooms!
- Hardiness Zones: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 Native to Africa.
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- This Black-Eyed Susan vine features 1 to 2 inch orange blooms, many with black eyes, against large, heart-shaped foliage. Adorn a rustic gate, mailbox, flagpole base, trellis, etc. with a twining Black-Eyed Susan Vine, with masses of blooms all summer and large, lush foliage.
- Grows in USDA zones 3 - 10 as a vining annual reaching heights of 60 - 84 inches
- This vine is easy to control growth and still look good year round. Thunbergia Alata is ideal for growing up through fences and gates, pillars and poles.
- Especially effective in containers, where its very full habit looks incredibly lush! The medium size blooms arise very profusely, facing out from the vine. Petal color are orange to deep orange, and many blooms feature the characteristic black eye.
- Sowing Rate: 3 seeds per plant to begin growing this beautiful climbing vine.
- Nothing evokes a country gate or rustic mailbox as cheerily as a twining Black-Eyed Susan Vine, with masses of blooms all summer and large, lush foliage. This vine is ideal for growing up through fences and gates, pillars and poles.
- Especially effective in containers, where its very full habit looks incredibly lush! 1 to 2-inch blooms arise very profusely, facing out from the vine. Petal color ranges from mid-yellow to deep orange, & many blooms feature the characteristic black eye.
If you grow your black-eyed Susan vine in a colder region, you should remove it from your garden once its growing season has come to an end, usually in autumn. But this does not mean that you must throw your plant away for good.
After the active growing period, you can transplant your vine into a container and bring it inside during the winter to enjoy its presence.
When the warmth of spring returns, you can move your black-eyed Susan plant back into the garden or just keep it inside. The choice is yours!
Keep in mind, though, that the Black-eyed Susan vine may produce flowers during the winter months if it receives plenty of sunlight and slightly warmer temperatures of at least 60 °F (15.5 °C). This would mean that, if you are lucky enough, you will have an almost continuous blooming Black-eyed Susan vine. And what could be more exciting than this, especially when it is not much of an effort?
Since we are talking about blooming, it is natural to grow black-eyed Susan vines for their marvellous blooms. If so, you should know that this plant does not need lots of attention to surprise you with many healthy flowers.
In fact, it only demands that you meet its basic needs regarding sunlight, fertilizing, and watering. But you will find out more about all of this in little to no time!
Let’s get to some of the problems that can occur while growing the black-eyed Susan vine. In general, as long as you manage to give your plant proper lighting exposure, a correct watering routine, and good air circulation, you will not encounter any fungal issues.
However, a garden is a complex ecosystem and some pests like scale insects, spider mites or whiteflies might bother your vine during its indoor stay or times with hot temperatures. If this happens, you can get rid of the infestation by applying insecticidal soap regularly until you see no sign of any suspect presence on your plant.
This plant isn’t very susceptible to unwanted visitors, but it is recommended to keep an eye out and check your plant for potential infestations regularly.
Planting Black-Eyed Susan Vine
The Black-Eyed Susan vine will appreciate its environment more if you plant it in a growing medium that features very good drainage. Likewise, the soil must be rich in organic matter to ensure the plant with everything it needs to grow healthy and happy.
In case you cannot find rich soil, you can add several inches of compost into the substrate before planting and everything will be just fine. In terms of soil pH, the black-eyed Susan vine requires a fairly neutral pH between 6.6 and 7.7.
The black-eyed Susan vine grows and spreads at a pretty fast pace, consuming a lot of energy along the way. Due to this, it will benefit from regular fertilizing once every four to six weeks. If you grow this vine in a pot, it is best to fertilize it once every two or three weeks during its blooming period. The ideal product for this plant is a complete fertilizer.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to grow the black-eyed Susan vine in a pot. We actually encourage you to do it as it will bring lots of joy to any dull corner, and you won’t have to worry about its invasive tendencies! For the best performance and appearance out there, you should plant two or three specimens in a container of 10 to 12 inches (25-31 cm) in diameter.
As with most vines, the black-eyed Susan can become leggy with time. If you want to control its growth and give it a fresh look, you should prune it in autumn when the plant ends its active growth.
Watering Black-Eyed Susan Vine
The black-eyed Susan vine thrives in moderately moist soil. To achieve this, you will have to follow the golden rule of this plant, which consists of it receiving about one inch (2.5 cm) of water weekly. It can come naturally from rainfall or you can provide it with water whenever the time is right.
Keep in mind that if the weather is more on the dry, hot side, you will need to water your plant more frequently than usual. It would be best if you always check the soil in-between waterings and give your plant another drink when the top inch (2.5 cm) of soil is dry.
Propagating Black-Eyed Susan Vine
Propagating the black-eyed Susan vine will be something that you don’t need to worry about. Since this plant tends to reproduce on its own through self-seeding, you will not need to intervene to obtain more specimens that look exactly like this superb plant.
However, this spreading habit can get a bit annoying with time, especially if you do not have enough space in your garden or you simply do not want this plant to dominate the spot. Do not panic, you can do this easily without having any prior experience with this plant or any other plant!
Luckily, you can refrain your Black-eyed Susan vine from becoming invasive by collecting the seeds from the fruits before they are ripe. Once you do this, you can store them in a cool place until you want to use them for propagation.
If you do not plan to start new plants from seeds, you can gift them to your flower-loving friends or family members to surprise them with a thoughtful gift.
Growing Black-eyed Susan Vines from Seeds
In an indoor setting, the best time to start seeds is usually about six to eight weeks before the last frost date in your area. It would help if you sowed the seeds in a container filled with fresh, well-draining potting soil. Outdoors, you can plant the seeds directly into the ground once the spring leaves the last danger of frost behind.
A tip for optimal growth – soak the seeds in water for two days or so before sowing. Also, it is recommended to sow the seeds about 0.25 inches (0.6 cm) deep and water whenever the soil feels dry. With proper care, germination will show up after two or three weeks.
Propagating Black-eyed Susan Vines from Cuttings
Another effective method to propagate your black-eyed Susan vine is through stem cuttings. This is also the most common way to obtain more plants like this one, as fruits do not usually appear very often on home-grown specimens. If you want to use this method, you should first wait for the autumn to come when the plant is still in its active growing period.
In fall, we recommend you look for healthy stems and cut about 4 to 6 inches (10-15 cm) off them with sharp pruners. Make sure you cut each piece just below a stem node because that is the spot from which roots will emerge.
After you have as many cuttings as you wish, plant each in its individual pot filled with an all-purpose potting mix. Place the container in a warm, sunny window to receive optimal conditions over the winter. When the spring temperatures arrive, the cuttings should show signs of active growth. At this very moment, if you feel like it, you can transplant the cuttings outdoors into the garden.
Now that you know everything about the black-eyed Susan vine, you are ready to fill your garden with its attractive yellow blooms. At the end of the day, this plant deserves a spot in your garden or in a container as it will produce beautiful flowers without much effort on your part. All this plant needs to thrive and bloom profusely is plenty of light, a little water, some fertilizer, and a bit of love.
Are you growing Thunbergia Alata a.k.a. the Black-eyed Susan vine? Let us know if you think this plant is too invasive or if you enjoy growing it in your garden!