How to grow black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata)

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How to grow black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata)
The black-eyed susan gets its name from the black centre of its flower. (Zoonar RF/Zoonar/Getty Images)

For a cheerful alternative to morning glories, give black-eyed Susan vine a try. It grows quickly and easily in full sun, reaching 3 to 3.6 m (10 to 12 feet) and covering itself with petite but colorful flowers with dark brown 'eyes' or centers. This annual is available in whites, creams, yellows and gold, and is usually started from seed.

Things you need

  • Fertilisers
  • Garden hoses
  • Garden spades
  • Garden trowels
  • Mulch
  • Plants
  • Seeds
  • Watering cans

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  1. 1

    Look for black-eyed Susan vine seedlings at your local nursery. It's an increasingly popular plant. Black-eyed Susan is also very easy to start from seed.

  2. 2

    Sow seeds indoors six to eight weeks before your regions's last frost date. In mild-winter areas, plant seeds directly in the garden in early spring.

  3. 3

    Plant established seedlings directly in soil after your region's last frost date.

  4. 4

    Provide support for your vine unless you want it to sprawl over a pot or along the ground as a groundcover. Black-eyed Susan vine climbs by twining, so any trellis or arbor will help it clamber skyward.

  5. 5

    Keep well watered.

  6. 6

    Fertilise every four to six weeks after planting, if desired, to assure a more vigorous vine and more flowers.

  7. 7

    Pull plant out after the first frost.

Tips and warnings

  • 'Susie' is one of the most popular varieties, but shorter varieties are good for using as a groundcover or in containers and hanging baskets.
  • Black-eyed Susan vine is a warm-season annual in the UK and a perennial vine in the warmer SCilly Isles. Frost will kill the top but not the roots.
  • If you want this vine to climb a fence or wall, you'll need to provide additional support. Try a thin wire or monofilament fishing line, stretched and wound around nails or eye-hooks.
  • Black-eyed Susan doesn't like very hot, dry conditions and suffers especially when exposed to reflected heat, such as that from a drive.

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