Content Detail

Sweet black-eyed Susan is taller than typical black-eyed Susan plants, with buttery yellow, daisylike flowers. The flowers bloom from midsummer to early fall, and the plants are lovely in butterfly gardens, rain gardens, cottage gardens, and in the backgrounds of beds and borders. This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region and current research.

  • Family (English) Aster
  • Family (botanic) Asteraceae
  • Tree or plant type Perennial
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
  • Size range Large plant (more than 24 inches)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Moist, Sandy soil, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances clay soil, Occasional drought
  • Season of interest midsummer, late summer, early fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Yellow
  • Shape or form Upright
  • Growth rate Moderate
  • Wildlife Birds, Butterflies, Insect pollinators

Size and method of spreading:

The mature size of sweet black-eyed Susan is approximately 3 to 6 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide. They spread by self-seeding. 

Native geographic location and habitat: (include C-value if appropriate)

The native range of sweet black-eyed Susan includes the Central United States and some Eastern states. C Value: 8.

Attracts birds or pollinators: 

Sweet black-eyed Susan attracts bees, beetles, birds, butterflies, moths, skippers, true bugs, and wasps.

Leaf description:

Sweet black-eyed Susan leaves are deep green and occur in an alternate arrangement along the stem. As the leaves ascend the stem, the stalk that attaches them to the stem shortens, and some of the uppermost leaves may be stalkless. The upper leaves tend to be undivided, approximately 3 inches long and 1 inch wide. They are long and narrow (lanceolate), ovate, or elliptic in shape with moderate to sparse teeth along the edges (dentate margins). The lower leaves of sweet black-eyed Susan are deeply divided into three to five lobes, which are lanceolate. The leaves are approximately 8 inches long and 4 ½ inches wide and have coarse dentate margins.

Flower description:

Sweet black-eyed Susan has daisylike flowers with buttery yellow petallike ray flowers and a dome-shaped, dark chocolate to purplish-brown center of disk flowers. There are approximately 10 to 20 ray flowers per flowerhead.  Each ray flower has a slight notch at the tip. The numerous disk flowers mature in an almost spiral pattern upwards from the bottom. The flowerheads are 2 to 3 inches in diameter and emit a slight anise scent. Around the base of the flowerheads are layers of leaflike bracts. The flowers grow at the end of long, leafless stalks (peduncles) that occur at the terminal ends of the upper stems. 

Fruit description:

The center disk flowers produce small, dry, dark, four-angled fruit (achenes). 

Plant Care:

Deadheading sweet black-eyed Susan can help to promote additional blooms and reduce self-seeding. Good air circulation can help to prevent issues with powdery mildew. Taller plants may need staking for support.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

Sweet black-eyed Susan is susceptible to powdery mildew. It tolerates heat, humidity, some drought, and deer once it has become established. A variety of soils can be tolerated, as long as they drain well.


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