Thunbergia alata

  • Attributes: Genus: Thunbergia Species: alata Family: Acanthaceae Life Cycle: Annual Recommended Propagation Strategy: Seed Stem Cutting Country Or Region Of Origin: Tropical & S. Africa, Madagascar Wildlife Value: Butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds visit the flowers for nectar. Climbing Method: Twining Dimensions: Height: 3 ft. 0 in. – 8 ft. 0 in. Width: 3 ft. 0 in. – 6 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits: Plant Type: Annual Ground Cover Vine Leaf Characteristics: Broadleaf Evergreen Habit/Form: Cascading Climbing Spreading Maintenance: Medium
  • Cultural Conditions: Light: Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day) Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours) Soil Texture: High Organic Matter Soil Drainage: Good Drainage Available Space To Plant: 3 feet-6 feet 6-feet-12 feet
  • Fruit: Fruit Color: Cream/Tan Fruit Description: The fruit develops inside the green bracts of the flower maturing to a tan color. Fruits contain 2-4 semicericular, reticulate seeds.
  • Flowers: Flower Color: Gold/Yellow Orange Flower Inflorescence: Head Flower Value To Gardener: Long Bloom Season Showy Flower Bloom Time: Fall Spring Flower Shape: Trumpet Flower Petals: 4-5 petals/rays Bracts fused petals Flower Size: 1-3 inches Flower Description: Orange to yellow flowers with dark brown-maroon throats 1 1/2″ across 5 petals. Blooms summer through fall but best blooms are when the hottest part of summer is over. Can find different cultivar with other flower colors like white, light yellow, and sulpher yellow.
  • Leaves: Leaf Characteristics: Broadleaf Evergreen Leaf Color: Green Leaf Feel: Soft Leaf Type: Simple Leaf Arrangement: Opposite Leaf Shape: Cordate Deltoid Ovate Leaf Margin: Dentate Hairs Present: Yes Leaf Length: 1-3 inches Leaf Width: 1-3 inches Leaf Description: Soft, hairy, triangular to heart-shaped or ovate, slightly toothed leaves 3″ long with winged petioles. The upper surface is dull dark greena and underneath is pale with visable veining.
  • Stem: Stem Is Aromatic: No
  • Landscape: Landscape Location: Container Hanging Baskets Houseplants Patio Vertical Spaces Landscape Theme: Pollinator Garden Design Feature: Screen/Privacy Attracts: Bees Butterflies Hummingbirds Problems: Weedy

Black-Eyed Susan: Winter Care Tips

Black-Eyed Susan can be perennial (Rudbeckia fulgida) or annual (Rudbeckia hirta). Garden varieties of both have been bred from wildflowers that are common throughout the United States and southern Canada.

If you don’t mind some untidiness in your winter garden, and if you like to feed the birds, don’t bother removing dead foliage and cutting stalks back. Birds will feast on the seeds.

Perennial Black-Eyed Susan is hardy, especially if you give it a light mulch of dried leaves—mimicking the way leaves would catch in the flower stalks if the plant grew wild. Annual Black-Eyed Susan self-seeds, so new plants will appear in the spring. Keep the surrounding ground bare, so seeds have a place to rest through the winter and sprout in the spring.

If you cut back stalks of perennial Black-Eyed Susan, wait until late fall when the plant is completely dormant. Leave three or four inches of the stem above the basal leaves to avoid injuring the plant. Cover the plant well with a mulch of dried leaves, especially in the first year after planting or dividing.

If you cut back stalks of annual Black-eyed Susan, it will not be able to self-seed. Lay the stems with the seed heads on a paper plate and let them dry. Shaking or rubbing the dry seed head will release the seeds onto the paper plate. You can store them through the winter in a labeled envelope or plastic bag and plant in the spring.

First record of Alternaria thunbergiae on Thunbergia alata in Europe

Thunbergia alata, often known as black-eyed Susan vine, is used in UK gardens as an annual climber in bedding schemes and hanging baskets. Flowers are typically shades of yellow, orange and red with a black centre. Plants germinated onsite from commercial seed were observed with dark leaf spots in outdoor beds at RHS Wisley in July 2017. Initial symptoms were dark circular spots surrounded by a yellow halo. These developed into circular necrotic lesions with a small white, central spot (Figs. 1-2). Lesions coalesced to produce early leaf necrosis but plants continued to flower profusely through to the end of the season.

A single-spore isolate was obtained on potato dextrose agar and deposited in the RHS culture collection held at RHS Wisley (RHS400616) and at the Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute, Netherlands (CBS145627). The internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of rDNA and the glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate (GAPDH) gene were amplified and sequenced (GenBank Accession Nos. MK295816 and MK307897, respectively). The ITS sequence was identical to two ITS sequences for A. thunbergiae already held in GenBank (KJ718257 and KJ718258) and differed from a third available sequence (KJ718259) by one base pair. The GAPDH sequence was identical to all three GAPDH sequences for A. thunbergiae available in GenBank (KJ718084, KJ718085 and KJ718086).

To confirm pathogenicity, damp filter paper discs on which the fungus was sporulating, were placed on the leaves of young Thunbergia alata plants kept at ambient temperature in natural light conditions. Discs were removed after a 48-hour period in which the plants were kept at 100% humidity. Pale, necrotic lesions developed after two weeks. Spores typical of A. thunbergiae were found on the lower leaf surface of lesions, isolated and confirmed as A. thunbergiae using ITS and GAPDH sequences. Control plants, on which damp sterile filter paper discs were placed, showed no symptoms.

In addition to Australia, A. thunbergiae has been reported from Florida, USA (Leahy, 1992), from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Melo, 2009) and from Miandoab, Iran on Allium cepa as A. iranica (Simmons & Ghosta, 2007). To our knowledge, this is the first record of A. thunbergiae in the United Kingdom and Europe. Whilst the infected mature plants continued to flower well at RHS Wisley, the unsightly foliage caused a reduction in plant quality. These symptoms could have significant negative implications for growers producing planting material. A pressed specimen of Thunbergia alata showing typical symptoms has been deposited at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew as K(M)257596.

21 annual climbers

There is a small, select group of annual climbers that are too often overlooked, yet can bring subtle touches and welcome bursts of colour to brighten the garden in summer. Speed of growth makes them ideal for clothing a new garden, providing temporary screening or softening hard surfaces. Here are some of the best types of annual climbers.

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Thunbergia alata ‘African Sunset’

An attractive selection, displaying masses of dusky brick-red to soft-cream flowers with a black centre backed by triangular mid-green leaves. For sun or part shade. 2.4m. USDA 9a-10b


Lathyrus sativus f. azureus

The fragile appearance of this elegant and dainty sweet pea, with grassy foliage and small, beautiful, azure-blue flowers, belies a tough constitution. It is tolerant of drought and waterlogging. 90cm. USDA 1a-11.


Maurandya barclayana

A pretty, free-flowering herbaceous climber that supports itself with the aid of twining leaf stems. Worth growing for its ivy-shaped leaves and elegant, foxglove-like flowers. It thrives in light, well-drained soil. 1.5m.


Ipomoea purpurea ‘Star of Yalta’

This herbaceous perennial, grown as an annual, has deep-purple flowers with a star of deep pink radiating from the centre of the flower to the tips of the petals. It can also be used as ground cover. 1.8m.


Clitoria ternatea

This fast-growing tropical climber produces exotically shaped flowers of vivid deep blue. It needs plenty of warmth and sunshine and is at its best during long, hot summers. 2.4m. USDA 10a-11.


Cobaea scandens

The large, greenish-white flowers of this outstanding species turn dark purple as they age. It flowers best on moist, well-drained soil. 5m. RHS H2, USDA 9a-11.


Lathers tingitanus

Makes up for its lack of fragrance with striking deep rose-purple flowers and a vigorous disposition. Drought tolerant, it likes a warm position in full sun. 1.5m.


Lablab purpureus ‘Ruby Moon’

The richly coloured purple blooms and shining purple pods that follow are complemented by purple-tinted foliage. It boasts a spread equal to height depending on the growing conditions. 6m. USDA 7a-10b.


Lathyrus odoratus ‘Cupani’

Glorious sweet pea popular for its sweet fragrance and regal magenta and purple flowers, which are freely produced. Pick regularly to prolong the display, which often lasts until first frosts. 3m. RHS H2.


Rhodochiton atrosanguineus

Often commented upon for its profusion of distinctive, and somewhat vulgar, tubular, black to reddish-purple flowers. Also has dark stems and heart-shaped, rich-green leaves. 3m. USDA 10a-11. RHS H2.


Ipomoea purpurea ‘Grandpa Ott’

Similar in vigour and appearance to ‘Star of Yalta’ but with a rosy, rather than white throat. Requires a warm, sheltered position to grow. Flowering continues into early autumn. 3m.


Ipomoea quamoclit

Handsome native of South America, valued for its attractive, bright-red flowers and deep green, fern-like foliage. It is drought tolerant and a favourite of humming birds. There is also a white form. 7m. USDA 11-12.


Ipomoea lobata ‘Jungle Queen’

The vibrant, multi-coloured tubular flower-spikes of this particularly robust selection (from K Sahin’s in the Netherlands) display a greater colour contrast than the species. For sun or shade. 3m.


Eccremocarpus scaber

An open, slender climber that produces tubular flowers in shades of red, orange, pink and yellow, from late spring to autumn. The leaves, formed of greyish-green leaflets, create a pleasing texture. 3m. RHS H3, USDA 8a-11.


Phaseolus coccineus ‘Painted Lady’

Runner beans have long been grown as ornamentals for gazebos and arbours. This pre-1855 cultivar produces tasty, medium-sized pods and the attractive flowers can also be used as a garnish. 3m.


Lathyrus belinensis

The contrasting colour combination of brick-red and yellow makes this a pleasing yet unusual plant that is well worth seeking out. It is excellent trailing in containers or as a compact climber. 1.2m.


Caiophora lateritia

A fascinating climber from Argentina and Chile with unusual, star-shaped, downward-facing, apricot flowers, twining stems and stinging hairs (only on mature plants). Also known as the twining tingle lily. 3m.


Lathyrus chloranthus

Bright yellow-green and lime flowers ensure that this cheerful native of Asia Minor, will never go unnoticed. Best plants come from autumn sowings. Ideal for scrambling over a hedge or up twiggy supports. 1.8m or more.


Tropaeolum majus

There are many forms of this cheerful plant with fresh-green leaves and brightly coloured flowers in shades of red, yellow and orange. Happy to assert its right to roam wherever the gardener allows. 3m. USDA 10a-11


Cucurbita maxima ‘Turk’s Turban’

These must-have winter squashes can be trained over arches or pergolas to add a sense of playfulness to a garden with their surreal shapes and colours. They are also an invaluable plant for late-season interest. 2m.


Ipomoea alba

Given a warm, sheltered position this Ipomoea offers delicate white, sweetly fragrant, flowers up to 15cm in diameter. These open in the evening and disappear around dawn. 3m. USDA 10a-12.


Words by Matthew Biggs, Kew-trained plant experts and BBC Radio 4 Gardeners’ Question Time regular.
Hardiness ratings given where available.

Black Eyed Susan Vine Care – Tips On Growing A Black Eyed Susan Vine

Black-eyed Susan vine plant is a tender perennial that is grown as an annual in temperate and cooler zones. You can also grow the vine as a houseplant but be wary as it may grow to 8 feet in length. Black-eyed Susan vine care is most successful when you can mimic the plant’s native African climate. Try growing a black-eyed Susan vine indoors or out for a bright cheery flowering vine.

Black Eyed Susan Vine Plant

Thunbergia alata, or black-eyed Susan vine, is a common houseplant. This is probably because it is easy to propagate from stem cuttings and, therefore, easy for owners to pass along a piece of the plant.

A native of Africa, the vine needs warm temperatures but also requires shelter from the hottest rays of the sun. Stems and leaves are green and flowers are usually a deep yellow, white or orange with black centers. There are also red, salmon and ivory flowered varieties.

Black-eyed Susan is a fast growing vine that needs a vertical stand or trellis to support the plant. The vines twine around themselves and anchor the plant to vertical structures.

Growing a Black Eyed Susan Vine

You can grow a black-eyed Susan vine from seed. Start seeds indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost, or outdoors when soils warm to 60 F. (16 C.). Seeds will emerge in 10 to 14 days from planting if temperatures are 70 to 75 F. (21-24 C.). It may take up to 20 days for emergence in cooler zones.

Growing a black-eyed Susan vine from cuttings is easier. Overwinter the plant by cutting several inches from a terminal end of a healthy plant. Remove the bottom leaves and place in a glass of water to root. Change the water every couple of days. Once you have thick roots, plant the start in potting soil in a pot with good drainage. Grow the plant until spring and then transplant outdoors when temperatures warm up and there is no possibility of frost.

Place plants in full sun with afternoon shade or partial shade locations when growing a black-eyed Susan vine. The vine is only hardy in USDA plant hardiness zones 10 and 11. In other zones, bring in the plant to overwinter indoors.

How to Care for Black Eyed Susan Vines

This plant has some special needs so you will need a few tips on how to care for black-eyed Susan vines.

Firstly, the plant requires well-drained soil, but it will tend to wilt if the soil gets too dry. The moisture level, especially for plants in pots, is a fine line. Keep it moderately moist but never soggy.

Black-eyed Susan vine care outdoors is easy as long as you water moderately, give the plant a trellis and deadhead. You can prune it lightly in the higher zones where it grows as a perennial to keep the plant on the trellis or line. Young plants will benefit from plant ties to help them establish on their growing structure.

Growing a black-eyed Susan vine indoors requires a bit more maintenance. Fertilize potted plants once annually in spring with a water-soluble plant food. Provide a stake to grow up or plant in a hanging basket and let the vines droop down gracefully.

Watch for pests like whitefly, scale or mites and combat with horticultural soap or neem oil.

Black- Eyed Susan vines are not to be confused with the bushy Black-Eyed Susan wildflower (Rudbeckia Hirtathat) that is native to the U.S. The Black-Eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia Alata) is a tropical plant that originally came from parts of Africa, Asia, and Madagascar. The only real similarity between the two is that both bear flowers with dark centers surrounded by bright yellow or orange petals.

This climber is evergreen only in zones 10 and above, where it can grow to be 20 feet; in a colder climate it is grown as an annual and reaches about eight feet. The dark green leaves are arrow-shaped and get up to 3” in size, and the vines bloom profusely from the early summer through the fall with five-petaled flowers in the familiar yellow and orange, but are also available in salmon, rose and apricot.

Black-Eyed Susan vines can be started from seed purchased from our store or from seeds you collect and save from growing the vine yourself. Simply collect the dried seed pods from the vine after it has bloomed and store them in a plastic bag. They will remain viable for at least two years if kept dry and not frozen.


  • Seeds should be sown directly into garden soil in the spring after all danger of frost has passed, or indoors 7-8 weeks before the last frost. Germination takes approximately 10-15 days with the ground temperature or growing medium at 70-75 degrees.
  • Seeds of this plant germinate slowly, so don’t expect to see any sprouts for two to three weeks after planting. Some gardeners believe that soaking the seeds overnight before planting speeds up the germination process by softening the seeds’ hard shells.
  • Another method of propagation is to take a stem cutting from your vine and put it in water until it starts to grow its own roots, then plant the cutting directly into the ground or container.
  • Layering is another way of propagating the vines that work especially well in warmer climates where the plant is perennial. Take part of the vine that is already low to the ground and bend it so the last six to eight inches can be covered with earth without removing it from the plant. Stake it down and keep it watered, and in a few weeks, roots will have formed. You can then cut it off the mother plant and it will become a vine on its own.
  • In warm climates, Black-Eyed Susan vines often propagate on their own, with new plants growing from seeds the plant dropped on the ground.


Thunbergias require rich, well-drained soil, so if they are sown into the ground directly, add a good amount of compost to the soil at planting time. If you prefer to grow your Susans in planters or hanging baskets, use a high-quality potting soil.


Black-Eyed Susan vines grow best with a combination of sun and light shade, and in the hotter regions they require shade during the afternoon. They will continue to bloom as long as they get several hours of sun daily and the temperature remains above 60 degrees.


Black-Eyed Susans are tropical plants and are not drought-tolerant. A layer of mulch will greatly help the soil retain its moisture. The soil in baskets or containers must not be allowed to dry out completely. Water regularly and thoroughly.


During its blooming season, use a half-strength solution of bloom-enhancing fertilizer every two to three weeks.


Once established, this vine can be trimmed and shaped (lightly) during the growing season, but any heavier pruning should be done in the early spring before the new growth starts.

Vine Support

Always have the climbing structure (fence, trellis, pole) in place before you plant, since you don’t want to disturb the seedlings by having to dig and construct by them.


Black-Eyed Susan vines do not have many problems from disease or insects. They can become infested with whiteflies or spider mites, but these can generally be treated with an insecticidal soap rather than chemical pesticides.

The Black-Eyed Susan vine is a rapidly growing climber or ground cover that will ramble and twine up trellises and through fences, producing masses of colorful blooms and rich green foliage. They produce bright, cheery garden color spots that will delight the gardener and attract birds, bees and butterflies.


Black-Eyed Susan Vine

Black-Eyed Susan Vine

An old-fashioned favorite, black-eyed Susan vine is beloved for cheerful yellow blossoms that unfurl with abandon from midsummer until the first frost. A little slow to get started in spring and early summer, black-eyed Susan begins to grow with gusto at a time when many perennials and some annuals take a midsummer break. This climbing plant will quickly ramble up a short trellis and is especially striking when trailing from a window box or hanging basket.

genus name
  • Thunbergia
  • Sun
plant type
  • Annual,
  • Perennial,
  • Vine
  • 3 to 8 feet
  • Climbs to 8 feet
flower color
  • Orange,
  • White
foliage color
  • Chartreuse/Gold
season features
  • Fall Bloom,
  • Summer Bloom
special features
  • Low Maintenance,
  • Good for Containers
  • 10,
  • 11
  • Seed,
  • Stem Cuttings

Garden Plans For Black-Eyed Susan Vine

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Black-Eyed Susan Vine Care Must-Knows

Easy to grow from seed, black-eyed Susan vine can be started indoors or outdoors. To start indoors, plant seeds 5 to 6 weeks before the last expected frost in your area. Plant seeds in individual pots of seed-starting mix and cover them with about ½ inch of soil. Keep seeds warm and moist as they germinate and emerge, consistently providing a strong light source. As soon as nighttime temperatures are consistently above 50 degrees Fahrenheit, transplant seedlings outdoors in a spot that receives full sun and has moist, well-drained soil.

Start seeds directly in the garden once the threat of frost passes. Plant seeds in a sunny, sheltered spot in well-drained, rich garden soil. Plant seeds 6 inches apart and ½ inch deep. Place a climbing support, such as a trellis or tripod, nearby at planting time. Keep soil moist but not soggy. Don’t panic if seedlings don’t emerge right away; black-eyed Susan seeds often require 21 or more days to germinate. After germination, the plants grow slowly until midsummer, after which they grow quickly—scurrying up a trellis and creating towers of sunny yellow blossoms.

Build a trellis for your flowers to climb on.

Pollinators’ Buffet

Black-eyed Susan vine is a favorite nectar source for bees and butterflies. Plant it near a patio or porch where you can enjoy the antics of winged visitors when they visit. Pair this cheerful flowering vine with other nectar-rich plants for a grand backyard nectar buffet. Easy-to-grow annuals for bees and butterflies include ageratum, zinnias, cosmos, and nasturtium.

See more plants that attract pollinators.

More Varieties of Black-Eyed Susan Vine

‘Little Susie’ black-eyed Susan vine

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A Thunbergia alata that bears white flowers with a chocolate-purple center. It climbs to 8 feet. Zone 10-11, but it’s usually grown as an annual.

‘Orange A-Peel’ black-eyed Susan vine

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Bright orange blossoms with dark eyes. A Thunbergia alata that looks great in containers. Zones 10-11.

Orange Clock Vine

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Thunbergia gregorii is distinguished from the closely related black-eyed Susan vine by its rich, pure orange flowers. This vine climbs 8-10 feet high with support or will scramble over the ground and become a groundcover. Zones 10-11, but usually grown as an annual.

‘Sunny Lemon Star’ black-eyed Susan vine

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This variety of Thunbergia alata offers big yellow flowers with brown centers. It climbs to 8 feet. Zone 10-11, but it’s usually grown as an annual.

‘White-Eyed Susie’ black-eyed Susan vine

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Profuse blossoms of Thunbergia alata that are clear white with bold black eyes. Zones 10-11.

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