In the summer, fields and meadows in Green Country, Okla., are covered with blankets of daisy-like flowers called Black-eyed Susans.
The flower has yellow petals and a black center or an “eye.” That is where it got its interesting name.
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida) grows from 12 to 39 inches tall and from 12 to 18 inches wide.
It is a very common plant in Oklahoma; it is found in 48 states, Canada, and China.
Maryland selected the Black-eyed Susan as its state flower in 1918.
The Black-eyed Susan is a tough survivor. It keeps growing until the temperature drops below freezing in the fall. When it is cut, the flower lives in a vase for up to 10 days.
The magnificent yellow color of the petals make the flower popular in landscaping designs.
Steve Dobbs, an award-winning horticulturist and producer of the “Oklahoma Gardening” TV show in the 1990s, gives valuable advice how to grow the Black-eyed Susan in his “Oklahoma Gardener’s Guide.”
“Plant seed in the fall or early spring,” he says. “Plant barefoot plants in the spring. Set out container plant in spring or summer.”
“The plants are not too picky about their soil as long as it drains well; well-worked soil permits better root development,” Dobbs continues. “They prefer full sun but accept partial shade.”
“Space plants 15 to 36 inches apart, depending on cultivar. The plants fill in the space as they age,” he concludes. “Water as needed during the establishment period. Mulch to keep weeds under control.”
The Black-eyed Susan is not only a decorative plant, but also a traditional Native American herb or remedy as it was used for treating colds, flu, infections, swelling, and even snake bites.
According to Wikipedia, the roots of the flower (not the other parts) have healing and immunity boosting qualities.
However, the Black-eyed Susan is toxic to cats when ingested, Wikipedia says.
For more information on caring about the flower, check the Dobb’s “Oklahoma Gardener’s Guide” or his other publications.