Black Eyed Susan: First Year Blooms & Other Flowering Questions

gold sturm Black Eyed Susan flowers

If you’re looking for a sturdy, profusely-blooming, easy-to-grow flower, then black eyed Susan is your girl. Well, your flower, anyway. Black eyed Susan walks the line between annual and perennial flowers, which muddies the question of whether it will bloom the first year or not. Rest assured, you’ll get your blooms.

Many varieties of black eyed Susan such as Indian Summer will bloom the first year if started early in the spring. Perennial varieties such as Goldsturm will also bloom with a small show the first year and will continue to get stronger and bloom more profusely as the years go on.

Now, let’s dig into the details for when to expect blooms.

Will black eyed Susan bloom the first year?

Getting blooms quickly is the ultimate reward in the flower garden when planting seeds in the spring, especially for a perennial like black eyed Susan.

Black eyed Susan flowers will produce blooms in their first year if planted early enough, whether it’s the annual or perennial type. The plants need 100 days or more to reach maturity, so starting seeds indoors and transplanting them into the garden is essential to get those first-year blooms.

Tender perennial black eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) are often treated more as an annual since they are only perennial and return year after year in warm climates of zone 9 or higher. For gardeners living in zone 8 or lower, you’ll have to replant each year, or allow the spent flowers to go to seed so they can self-sow, which black eyed Susan does easily.

goldsturm Black Eyed Susan flowers

The benefit of these tender perennials is that it’s easier to get them to bloom the first year from seed, even with a spring planting. If you start seeds in early spring, about six weeks before your last frost date, then the plants should bloom 12-15 weeks or so after you plant them, depending on the variety.

True perennial black eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida) is best started in the fall so it can overwinter. Then, once it resumes growth in the spring, the plant will produce a strong showing of flowers. If these perennials are started in the spring they will still flower the first year, but they will likely produce a smaller amount of flowers.

How long does it take for black eyed Susan to bloom?

Black Eyed Susan will bloom after three or four months’ worth of growth, whether it was started in the fall and overwintered or it was planted in the spring after risk of frost.

If you’re in a hurry to get blooms, choose a variety that only needs about 100 days to mature. If you prefer the look of one of the slower-growing varieties, then fall planting is a great way to speed up the time it takes for them to bloom once summer rolls around.

Here are some of the most popular varieties of Black Eyed Susan flowers, along with their days to maturity, or bloom.

VarietyDays to maturity
Indian Summer90-100
Pairie Sun90-105
Amarillo Gold90-105
Sahara 100-120
Cherry Brandy100-120
Cherokee Sunset100-120

The days to maturity listed above do not include the amount of time needed to start the seeds indoors and grow them to a size ready for transplant. For the full growing time, add in about six weeks that your seedlings will be grown under lights.

I know, it means that 100 days is more like 150, which sounds like forever.

But starting those tiny seeds indoors will give you the taste of spring you need to be patient and let your plants get to a good size for transplanting. In theory, anyway.

To get all the steps for starting black eyed Susan from seed, check out this post: Growing Black Eyed Susan From Seed: Q&A and How To Start.

For fall-planted black eyed Susan, the fall growth doesn’t count toward the days to maturity. Planting in the fall will help speed up flowers’ growth once the weather warms, but the plants still need time to complete their growth before flowering.

Fall planting is also a great way to avoid having small seedlings to tend to in the springtime when you’re busy with other garden chores.

What month do black eyed Susan bloom?

In general, black eyed Susan will bloom starting in July or August. Most varieties need at least 100 days to grow before producing flowers, so count forward from your planting date to get an approximate month for the first blooms. Black eyed Susan will continue to bloom until the first frost in fall.

For example, I start my black eyed Susan flowers indoors in February, six weeks before I intend to plant them out. Remember that these six weeks don’t count toward the days needed to reach maturity. That clock starts when the plants are put out in the garden. I know, it’s kind of like cheating, but it’s the way it works for transplants.

In any case, if I set my black eyed Susan seedlings out in the garden on April 1st, then I can expect to get the first blooms 12 or so weeks later, at the end of June. This timeline is for a quick blooming variety such as Indian Summer, which needs 90-105 days to mature. Other varieties, such as Saraha, may up to 120 days to bloom, so you wouldn’t see flowers until closer to mid-July.

First year blooming varieties of Black eyed Susan

There are many different varieties of black eyed Susan, but all of them stay in the gold, orange, red, and copper shades. You can get plants of varying heights, from a compact 24 inches to a mass of up to four feet. Here is just a small sampling of the possibilities:

Indian Summer: One of the most popular varieties of black eyed Susan, Indian Summer grows to three feet and puts on a show of large blooms with golden petals and a dark brown center.

Cherokee Sunset Mix: The very picture of autumn, Cherokee Sunset will provide a bouquet of orange, rust, and golden yellow blooms. Flowers are a mix of single and double blooms, and the plant grows to just 24-30 inches tall.

Cherry Brandy: Cherry Brandy became popular as soon as it was bred and available, as it was the first red-petaled black eyed Susan. I’ve experienced spotty germination with this variety, but I grow it anyway because it’s gorgeous.

Prairie Sun: The unusual green center makes Prairie Sun a fun variety to grow, not to mention the two-tone petals of yellow and orange. This variety is on the shorter side at 28-32 inches tall.

Sahara: Much like Cherokee Sunset, Sahara boats a variety of colors in antique shades such as light yellow, rose pink, and coral. The stems for these flowers are shorter, so they withstand wind and rain well.

Now get your hands on some seeds and get growing! Find out just how to get started in this post: Black Eyed Susan: A Complete Guide To Growing.

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