The Maryland State Flower: Tips for Growing Black Eyed Susans

National Parks Services

Not everyone has a natural green thumb when it comes to gardening. Whether you water too much or too little, use the wrong soil, or suffer from a bug infestation, things often take a turn for the worse when cultivating plants.

With our guide to growing Black Eyed Susans, you can help this Maryland state flower flourish and come back stronger each year. Follow these tips to improve your gardening skills and nurture your green thumb.

History of the Maryland State Flower

Black Eyed Susans were officially recognized as the Maryland state flower in 1918. Although not native to the area, the wildflowers grew along highways and fields across the state. Some Maryland citizens originally criticized the choice of the state flower, saying that Black Eyed Susans were nothing more than a weed, but supporters for the wildflower won out eventually.

Scientifically referred to as Rudbeckia hirta, Black Eyed Susans are part of the Sunflower family and can grow to be over three feet tall. The flowers typically bloom from June to October. Many different insect varieties, including butterflies and bees, enjoy the sweet nectar of the Black Eyed Susan, promoting widespread pollination. Once you introduce Black Eyed Susans to a region, they can quickly spread, filling entire fields with the bright flowers.

Tips for Growing the Maryland State Flower

Black Eyed Susans are fairly hardy plants and can grow almost anywhere with moderate temperatures, but they thrive in zones 4–9 in the United States. Your first step when growing these flowers is to decide whether you want to plant seed or mature plants. For seeds, germination takes 10–15 days, but flowers take a few months to bloom. March, April, and May are ideal for planting Black Eyed Susan seeds. When planted early, Black Eyed Susans can blossom in the same year they are planted.

United States Department of Agriculture

If introducing mature flowers to your garden, cut back the plant when it starts to get too large and you may get a second blooming period in the summer. Propagate the flowers by digging up the full-grown plants, separating the root clumps, and replanting the new plant pieces.

Black Eyed Susans grow best in moist but well-drained soil that stays around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. These conditions are ideal for seed germination and lead to stronger, more resilient plants. Plant the flowers in a section of the garden that receives plenty of sunlight throughout the day. Though they will grow in partial sunlight, Black Eyed Susans prefer full sun exposure. These flowers do well indoors and outdoors, as long as they have access to plenty of direct sunlight.

Space the plants about 1–1½ feet apart. These flowers tend to take over a space pretty quickly, so if you do not want them to continue to spread through the garden, prune routinely.

Water your Black Eyed Susans frequently. They should never completely dry out. Remove dead flowers and stems to promote growth and keep the plants healthy. To stop fungus and molds from killing the flowers, use organic antifungal products if you notice brown, powdery leaves on the bottom of the plant. Aphids, slugs, and snails are also common pests for Black Eyed Susans, as these pests eat the leaves.

Flower Arrangements with the Maryland State Flower

Once you successfully grow the Maryland state flower, you can place them in beautifully crafted floral arrangements. Cut Black Eyed Susans in the morning and place them immediately in a bucket of cool or lukewarm water until you are ready to arrange.

Remove the foliage from the lower portion of the stems. Dying leaves that sit in the vase contaminate the flower’s water supply. Before you begin arranging, recut the stems and decide how tall you would like your arrangement. Pruning the flowers to different heights creates variety and allows the wildflowers to look more natural. Black Eyed Susans trimmed evenly look more formal and modern.

When creating an eye-catching floral arrangement, complementary colors look best. For Black Eyed Susans, blue- and purple-hued flowers make the perfect addition. Some examples of flowers to pair with the Maryland State Flower:
• Lavender
• Russian Sage
• Forget Me Nots
• Hydrangeas
• Aster
• Yarrow
• Iris
• Summer Lilac (also called Butterfly Bush)
• Coneflowers
• Delphiniums

Even if you are new to gardening, the Maryland state flower is a stout plant that is perfect for beginner-level horticulturists. Black Eyed Susans grow quickly and have very few requirements when it comes to care. Their basic needs can be met with a little water, ample sunlight, and little else. Try your hand at cultivating and arranging these cheerful blooms to add color to both your garden and home.

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