If you’re looking for an easy way to propagate black-eyed Susan plants, you may be tempted to take cuttings from your existing plants. While this can be done, it’s not always successful.
A better option is to grow new black-eyed Susan plants from seed. Fortunately, starting from seeds will open the doors to far more varieties than replicating the same plant via cuttings!
You cannot grow the black-eyed Susan (rudbeckia) from cuttings, although other plants that go by the name black-eyed Susan, such as the black-eyed Susan Vine and the similar giant coneflower, may root from stem cuttings. Black-eyed Susan are better grown from seed or root cuttings.
In this article, I’ll help you find the best way to get more black-eyed Susan flowers by showing you the best propagation methods for all the plants that may go under the common name of “black-eyed Susan.”
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Black-eyed Susan flowers and propagation methods
Black-eyed Susan is the common name for the flower rudbeckia. However, black-eyed Susan is a name given to several different flowers, each of which has specific propagation methods. The name variations can be confusing if you plan to propagate your flowers in more ways than buying a seed packet.
For a detailed explanation of the species that go by the name black-eyed Susan, this article has all the details: Is Black-Eyed Susan The Same As Rudbeckia?
However, in this article, I’ll give you a rundown of the most common “Black Eyed Susans” and the other yellow flowers commonly confused with them, detailing the propagation methods you can use with each one:
|Common Names||Scientific Names||Recommended Propagation Method(s)|
|Black-eyed Susan||Rudbeckia hirta||Seeds, division|
|Black-eyed Susan, Orange Coneflower||Rudbeckia fulgida||Seeds, division|
|Brown-eyed Susan, Three-lobed Coneflower||Rudbeckia triloba||Seed|
|Giant coneflower||Rudbeckia maxima||Division, stem cuttings, seed|
|Prairie coneflower||Ratibida pinnata||Seed|
|Black-eyed Susan Vine||Thunbergia alata||Seed, Root, and Stem Cuttings|
You can see many different flowers with some combination of the names black-eyed Susan, rudbeckia, and coneflower. It’s tricky to figure out exactly what is best for your plants.
How to propagate black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
Most gardening experts recommend only propagating the annual species of black-eyed Susan by division or seeds, as cutting propagation has minimal success. The effortless ability to self-sow is why it’s not generally recommended to try rooting black-eyed Susan cuttings.
To grow any plant from cuttings, it must be capable of producing roots from its nodes or leaves. These self-rooting properties are most commonly found in trailing vines, crawling plants, and succulents, all of which have adapted to reproduce asexually.
However, many self-seeding plants, like rudbeckia or black-eyed Susans, have never needed to adapt to asexual reproduction. Instead, they use their numerous seeds to spread in dense clusters with great success.
The following propagation instructions are for rudbeckia hirta, but you may also use them for any of the other “black-eyed Susans” listed above that use the same propagation method.
Propagating black-eyed Susan by division
Propagating your black-eyed Susan by division is very simple and can benefit your flowers as they mature. Dividing them every few years will not only allow you to propagate new plants, but it will untangle matted roots and make way for new growth to come in.
So, here’s how to do it:
- Dig up your existing black-eyed Susan flowers, loosening the soil around the roots and using a digging fork to pry the root ball out of the ground.
- Brush or shake the soil away from the roots, then rinse them to remove the last of the dirt.
- Visually identify how you want to divide the plant. Each new section of the plant should have at least two large shoots.
- Cut the roots between your new plant groups with a sharp, sterile shovel, shears, or scissors.
- Plant your new groups of black-eyed Susans immediately to keep the roots moist.
- Water the divisions, monitoring them carefully over the next few weeks until you see new leaves or shoots coming from the plant.
Propagating black-eyed Susan from seed
Black-eyed Susans are self-seeding plants, but you can always harvest your seeds and plant them in other places to add a pop of color wherever you desire.
One quick note regarding cold stratification; I’ve had luck without doing this step, but if you have the time, it can’t hurt. The general consensus is that black-eyed Susan seeds must experience around three months of cold weather to germinate. If you live in an area with cold winter temperatures, nature will take care of this for you when you sow the seeds in the fall.
However, if you live in a warm climate that doesn’t get cold or freezing temperatures, you can create the same conditions by putting your seed packets in the freezer for a couple of months during winter.
With that out of the way, here’s how to harvest and sow your black-eyed Susan seeds:
- Once your black-eyed Susan flowers have started to wind down, keep a close eye to catch them at the right stage. The flowers don’t need to be completely dried before cutting. If you wait too long, birds may come and eat the seeds, or they’ll drop to the ground.
- Once the petals start to dry out and the flower is clearly past its prime, clip the head of the flower stems off.
- Let the cones finish drying off the plant by spreading them on a screen or hanging the stems upside down for around 14 days.
- Once dry and crispy, place your seeds in a container with a lid. Then, shake the container to loosen the chaff and seeds from the flower heads.
- Pour the seeds, flower heads, and chaff through a colander or sieve held over a bowl or plate. The seeds should fall through, leaving the chaff and flower heads in the colander or sieve.
- You can optionally stratify your seeds, putting them in a cold area for storage.
- Plant your seeds in loose soil in a sunny spot, barely covering them because they need light to germinate. If starting the seeds indoors, don’t cover them at all. Just mist them with water a couple of times a day to keep them moist.
- Pat down the soil, then mist your seeds well for a few weeks until you see sprouts.
- Keep the soil moist, and you’ll have clusters of bright flowers in no time!
If you want to learn more about planting and growing black-eyed Susan, you’ll enjoy this short tutorial from A Beautiful Nest Home & Garden:
Propagating other black-eyed Susans
While Rudbeckia hirta is the most common variety referred to as black-eyed Susan, you’ll find several other varieties, some of which develop roots from cuttings:
- Rudbeckia fulgida. This biennial flower spreads via rhizomes, and only seed and division are successful propagation methods for this plant.
- Rudbeckia triloba. More commonly called Brown-eyed Susan, this small flower only spreads by seed.
- Rudbeckia maxima. The giant coneflower, a large yellow rudbeckia flower that can grow to 6 feet (1.8 m) tall, spreads with rhizomes. However, you can successfully propagate it with stem cuttings, division, and by seed.
- Ratibida pinnata. This wildflower is more commonly called the yellow coneflower, but it looks like a very tall black-eyed Susan. It can only be propagated by seed.
- Thunbergia alata. This trailing vine, called the black-eyed Susan vine, is an evergreen, tropical plant that successfully roots from cuttings.
You may not be able to grow black-eyed Susan flowers from cuttings. However, with root division and sowing seeds, your won’t lack these brilliant flowers in your garden.