This herbaceous perennial climber is native to Eastern Africa, and because of its vibrant colors, it is now famous the world over. It is often confused with Rudbeckia hirta, also known as Black Eyed Susan.
Although they both belong to the same flowering plant family Asteraceae, the Black-eyed Susan vine, as the name suggest is a creeper, whereas the Black Eyed Susan is a plant with branched-out stems. It is perennial in nature, and flowers throughout the year if given the right conditions.
The vine can grow 6-8 feet in height when in wild, and much less when grown in containers. The leaves are heart or arrow-shaped, and are slightly rough because of the microscopic hair on them. The vine bears flowers in spring, summer, early autumn/fall, and even in winters if the climate is conducive.
One can grow them in Styrofoam cups too. Prepare the soil mix by adding one part soil, one part compost, and some perlite to facilitate easy drainage. The soil should be porous, whether in the ground, in pots, in hanging baskets, or in Styrofoam cups. Sow individual seeds one-quarter inch deep in the soil, and cover it lightly.
For propagating through cuttings, cut a strong and old stem about 10-15 inches in length, dip it in some rooting hormone, and stick it gently in a commercial soil mix. One can even collect stems that have sprouted roots by coming in contact with soil. Cuttings can also be rooted through water.
Here are the tips to keep in mind while caring for this vine:
- If seeds are sown where the vine is to grow and bloom, then make sure you space them out well, about three inches apart. The number of seedlings to be transplanted in pots and hanging baskets should be according to their sizes.
- Water regularly and adequately, as the vine is very vulnerable to root rot. Less water will kill the vine. If your plant has wilted away, then immediately stand the entire container in a tub of water. Once the vine starts to bear buds, feed it with water-soluble fertilizer weekly to keep the blooms coming through the end of the flowering season.
- Spider mites, whiteflies, and scale insects are generally the pests and diseases that infest this vine. A regular germicide spray takes care of it though.
- A regular pruning which includes pinching, thinning, and shearing damaged twiners can be done to boost the vine for a prolonged bloom.