The Black Eyed Susan Vine, also known as thunbergia (thun-BER-jee-uh), is a genus of 100 plants native to tropical regions of Africa and Australia that produces large, funnel-shaped flowers in shades of yellow, cream, orange and blue with dark centers ( or “black eyes”), along with heart-shaped leaves. The blooming period is from summer until fall. Plants can climb 4-10 ft tall.
Thunbergia is generally grown as annual plant. It is easy to grow from seed and thrives in just about any soil condition. Space seeds about 8-12 inches apart. It does best in a sunny, but sheltered spot (away from strong winds and drafts). As a climbing vine, the twinning stems grow rapidly and would require the support of a trellis, pillar, fence, arbor or other structures. Alternatively, you could grow them in a hanging basket, window box or patio container, allowing the stems to cascade below. Plus, the containers can be brought indoors during the winter, where the flowers will continue to bloom as long as they get enough sunshine each day.
Thunbergia alata, with its bright yellow or orange flowers, is commonly known as the Black-eyed Susan vine. It is one of the most popular cultivated thunbergias, known for its rapid growth, where it can reach 10ft tall in one growing season!
Deadhead regularly to encourage new blooms. Pinch off the tip of the vines and stems to control their height and spread, to keep plants looking attractive.
Climate Zones: 10-11
Fun Flower Facts About the Black Eye Susan Vine (Thunbergia):
- While they both share the common name, “Black-Eyed Susan,” the Black-Eyed Susan vine is NOT related to the Black-Eyed Susan flower (Rudbeckia Hirta).
- Some varieties are called Clock Vine.
- The genus was named after Carl Peter Thunberg, a Swedish botanist who discovered close to 300 new plant species.
- In some places in Australia, thunbergia is becoming an invasive species.
- This plant is used in traditional herbal medicine to treat skin problems, cellulitis, joint pains, ulcers, and eye inflammation.
- In Thailand & Malaysia, the leaves of T. laurifolia (laurel clock vine) are dried to make herbal teas, which are believed to have detoxifying properties. In Thailand, these leaves are used to treat poisons and drug addictions.
- Fun Flower Facts: Black-Eyed Susans (Rudbeckia Hirta) (funflowerfacts.com)