Black Eyed Susan Vine

Black Eyed Susan Vine

We have been growing a good garden plant for a few years now. It is commonly called the Black Eyed Susan Vine. Many gardeners grow the plant known as Black eyed Susan which is like a daisy with orange petals around a brown center. That plant is a Rudbeckia species and is completely different, botanically from the vine by the same common name.

The vine is called

    Thunbergia alata

and it falls in the plant family Acanthaceae. All the members of this family have petals that are united more or less at the base into a roll or tube. The BES vine has the petal bases joined and a simultaneous color change to a purple-brown. The petals at the mouth of the flower are lobed so that they appear to be five separate petals. The color tones vary depending on the variety from yellow to deep orange.

The care of the BES vine is very easy. In our part of the country, they are put in after danger of spring frosts and grown as a summer bedding plant. If you are lucky enough to be in an area that has no frosts, it can live for a long time as it is a frost-tender perennial. When I planted them in the spring they were about 6 inches tall. By this week, when they were pulled out, one of them had climbed up to my second story deck and run along the railing spindles for about 6 feet. They do not get too weedy or anything, they are nice cheerful plants. They flower very well if they get enough sun. They can take full sun as long as they do not dry out too much.

As far as decorative value, they do well on a fence or trellis. They would stand out well when grown with a complementary color in the blue tones. A suggested combo would be ‘Heavenly Blue’ morning glory and the orange Black Eyed Susan vine. Happy gardening!

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