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.

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Things you need

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

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Instructions

  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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