The black-eyed Susan is a common sight in northeastern summer landscapes. Characterized by alternating leaves and a yellow, daisy-like flower with a dark central disk, it can handle drought with limited effect on its flowering. It can also thrive in a range of conditions, from full sun to part shade, which makes it a great choice for the urban environment.
Available at most nurseries, the black-eyed Susan is an excellent choice for adding floral architecture to summer landscapes, like the edge plantings at the Pond in Central Park. But it’s more than a colorful ornamental; it’s a source of nectar for bees, which in turn pollinate the plant and, as fall approaches, it has the important function of feeding birds. Therefore, it’s a good idea to keep the seed heads on the plants as they dry, both for ornamental value and as a food source.
To make it an even better food source for birds, plant black-eyed Susans in large clusters, since creating a colony makes it more likely that the seeds will be spread around by wildlife. It’s advisable to plant a native species of black-eyed Susan because it may have more characteristics useful for wildlife. A cultivar engineered to have large flowers, for example, may have fewer and/or smaller seeds, which means less food for wildlife.
See black-eyed Susans with dried seed heads in Central Park now and view photos of some bright, summer-pollinator blooms here.