Black-Eyed Susan vine is easy to start from seed, but I have to admit I bought this ornamental vine at a garden center this year.
Here, in Zone 5, Thunbergia alata is an annual vine, but in warmer Zones it is a herbaceous perennial and can readily self-seed. In one growing season Black-Eyed Susan grows to be about 6-8 feet tall for me if I grow it on stakes that are tall enough. Although, Black-Eyed Susans aren't as bad as morning glories, you may want to consider not letting it go to seed in warmer climates. In Zone 5 it self-seeded one year but there weren't enough blooms to produce seeds for a second year.
This year I'm growing my Black-Eyed Susan vine in full sun and I'm really pleased with how drought tolerant it is in a container. This flowering vine has stood up to the oppressive heat on the back porch container garden. Even in a terracotta pot it has yet to wilt or even be bothered by hot weather. I really shouldn't be surprised because Black-eyed Susan vines are native to Eastern Africa and just look at these leaves.
The leaves of this vine are opposte, either heart or arrow-shaped, somewhat coarse and hairy. These are the leaves of a plant that is designed to take some heat and sun, even the stems are fuzzy! The color of Thunbergia alata flowers and the leaves remind me a lot of cucurbits.
Black-Eyed Susan Vine Seeds.
Since Black-Eyed Susan vine can be grown from seed you can also collect seeds from your plant and save them for next year. This is what the seed pods look like. Kinda pervy, right? My Black-Eyed Susan vine is even more happy to see me than I am to see it bloom.
I'm a little creeped out by the seed pod because I had to hand-pollinate the blooms to get the seed pods since the flowers were not being visited by pollinators, and thus were just withering on the vines. I'm having kind of a slow year in terms of attracting pollinators, especially on the container garden I started on the porch. I chose to grow Black-Eyed Susan vine back there to attract pollinators to the new garden, but I haven't had much success. I also grew it because the trumpet-shaped flowers are perfect for humming birds and I thought maybe I'd see one of those mythical humming birds of Chicago. I say 'mythical' because people in the area swear they come here, but I've never seen one. Not.a single. one.
How to Grow Black-eyed Susan Vines.
Growing Black-Eyed Susan vine is really easy. It grows well in full-sun to part shade. Watering needs are moderate, but that doesn't mean you should allow it to dry out to the point where the leaves wilt. Fertilize on the same schedule and strength as the rest of your ornamental garden. When I've purchased already growing Black-Eyed Susan vines in the past they seem to flower just fine without additional fertilizer beyond the time-release fertilizer applied to the potting mix by the growers. In my garden Black-Eyed Susan vine will grow and flower all summer long well into the first frost of the season.
Where to Grow Black-eyed Susan Vine.
A good vine to grow if you want to create a quick privacy screen that provides color. Grow it in containers, window boxes or in-the-ground growing up a fence or trellis. I think they look best grown up a support like a bamboo stake or a fence where it will readily wind itself up. It is an aggressive climber, by that I mean, that it will ramble over itself if it doesn't have any way to go up. The indivudual stems will twine themselves around each other masking these beautiful yellow blooms. You can also take advantage of the Black-Eyed Susan vines need to roam by growing it as a ground cover.
While Thunbergia alata is the most common Black-Eyed Susan vine you'll find at your local garden center check your favorite seed seller for varieties in other colors. 'White-Eyed Susie,' is a white bloom with the familiar dark center that would look great in a Halloween themed garden-if you're into that kind of thing. I don't really care what variety of Black-Eyed Susan vine you grow as long as you grow one. Every gardener should have a Black-Eyed Susan vine growing in the garden.