These pleasantly bright climbing vines also make great container plants and are particularly beloved for their distinctive flowers, which are generally vivid yellow or orange with dark centers. The black-eyed Susan vine requires lots of sun to thrive and cannot tolerate frost, but can be grown in containers in a very wide range of areas. This vine is a great ornamental plant for a container garden, and also is commonly grown in hanging baskets.
Thunbergia alata. There are also several varieties of alata as well, including ‘Angel Wings’ – which grows white flowers rather than orange – and ‘African Sunset’, which grows in a dark red-purple.
Though most commonly called black-eyed Susan vine, Thunbergia alata is also called the clockvine. Note that the name “black-eyed Susan” also refers to several species of sunflowers, including the widely grown Rudbeckia hirta; these species are distinct from the climbing vine.
Degree of Difficulty
Fairly simple. They have no major pests or diseases and can withstand a pretty wide range of soil and temperature conditions – the most important thing is to give them sun and keep them out of a freeze.
Features of Black-Eyed Susan
These plants grow five-petaled flowers and slightly bristly leaves that are either arrow or heart-shaped. They bloom from the spring through the fall and can be propagated by cuttings or seed during their growing season. They grow fairly quickly and their vines can grow six to eight feet, though when kept in containers they can be pruned to a much more manageable size. They look particularly beautiful when grown in hanging baskets, which allows their foliage to flow naturally over the edges. They also are used to cover fences or porches when allowed to grow freely.
The can be huge and vigorous. The vines grow well on a large trellis or structure. In the growing season, they grow very rapidly. Using painted bamboo trellises is an inexpensive and stylish way to keep your vines growing up.
Full sun is best for these plants, and make sure not to expose them to frost. If you plan on growing them in a place that experiences freezes, take the vines inside during the winter before returning them outside in the beginning of spring for their blooms. Some black-eyed Susans have been known to bloom over the winter when kept indoors, as well.
Make sure to water regularly, especially during the spring. But also make sure their soil drains well; they grow best in moist soil, but shouldn’t sit in wet soil all day. They should be fertilized during the growing season every few weeks – follow the directions on your specific fertilizer. Their soil should also be fairly rich, and make sure their roots have enough room to grow undisturbed by growing them in large, spacious containers.
Native to southern areas, these plants are tolerant of lots of heat but should not be subjected to freeze. Take them indoors during the frost.
Container Garden Design Tips
Black-eyed Susans tend to sprawl, so make sure they have enough room. They grow well on trellises and can grow ridiculously fast. Make sure to give them plenty of water and keep them in the light as much as possible. You can also germinate your own black-eyed Susan seeds fairly easily: soak the seeds in water and plant them in rich soil and these plants will grow with little maintenance. Their flowers go great with other bright-colored foliage and they can be part of a beautiful container garden, especially during the summer when they’re in bloom. Black-eyed Susans can also be mixed with other vines or grown free-standing; just place them in the sun and enjoy.