17 of the Best Black-Eyed Susan Varieties to Add a Little Sunshine to Your Garden

Quick, picture a black-eyed Susan. I bet you imagined a daisy-like yellow flower with a black center, right?

It’s true, black-eyed Susans don’t have the variability that something like roses or poppies do. People might assume the blooms generally have the same appearance and a similar color.

But there’s actually quite a bit of variety available.

A close up vertical image of yellow and bicolored black-eyed Susan flowers growing in the garden pictured in light sunshine on a soft focus background. To the top and bottom of the frame is green and white printed text.

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There are maroon blossoms and dwarf plants, and flowers that are frilly and full like a giant marigold.

In other words, you don’t have to assume that you’ll only be able to find one general appearance if you’re hoping to add this hardy North American native to your garden. You’ve got options!

If you need a refresher on how to grow black-eyed Susans, check out our guide.

In this guide, we’re going to go over some of what we think are the best varieties.

Here’s a preview of our list:

A quick primer on black-eyed Susan anatomy before we get into the roundup, so we’re all on the same page when we talk about the different parts of the flower.

Each flower head has ray florets (the colorful “petals”) surrounding petal-like disk florets at the center.

It’s those disk florets that we call the eye. Like what you’ll see in their cousins, purple coneflowers, these disk florets have a sort of cone shape, though it can range from something that protrudes quite a bit to just a small mound.

1. Autumn Forest

A Rudbeckia hirta cultivar, ‘Autumn Forest’ has massive yellow, red, and mahogany flowers that can reach five inches across.

A horizontal image of Rudbeckia hirta 'Autumn Forest' flowers growing in the summer garden.

They start out bright yellow on the exterior of each petal, gradually fading to red and then mahogany toward the center, with a black protruding eye at the middle. And the thick stems can stretch up to 24 inches tall, making them perfect for cut displays.

A close up of the bicolored deep red and yellow flowers of Rudbeckia hirta 'Autumn Forest' growing in the garden.

‘Autumn Forest’

Create your own autumn forest by grabbing a small pack or an ounce of seeds at Eden Brothers.

2. Cappuccino

Relax and sit back with a nice tall iced coffee (iced tea would also work) and enjoy your garden as the yellow, gold, orange, and mahogany flowers of ‘Cappuccino’ sway in the breeze.

A close up horizontal image of bicolored 'Cappuccino' black-eyed Susan flowers growing in the summer garden.

This compact R. hirta plant only grows to about 18 inches tall, but that doesn’t mean it can’t make an oversized impact. The bright blooms smother the bushy foliage from early summer until winter is just around the corner.

Winner of the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society, it’s extra drought-tolerant and makes a good cut flower option.

3. Cherokee Sunset

R. hirta ‘Cherokee Sunset’ isn’t like other black-eyed Susans. It captures the spirit of the mahogany, red, orange, and yellow of a summer sunset as the sun drops below the horizon.

A close up horizontal image of deep orange Rudbeckia hirta 'Cherokee Sunset' growing in the garden.

Each petal starts at the base with a deep mahogany that gradually transitions to red, orange, and finally, it’s tinged at the tip in yellow. The eye at the center is dark mahogany brown, all set against dark blue-green foliage.

Reaching two feet tall, this plant blooms profusely from midsummer through the fall. All this combined nabbed ‘Cherokee Sunset’ the All-America Selections award in 2002.

4. Cherry Brandy

Not a huge fan of yellow flowers? Or just looking for something different? R. hirta ‘Cherry Brandy’ has red rays that start crimson at the center and fade to cherry red at the tips.

The floret at the center is rounded and protruding, in a deep maroon-brown color.

A close up horizontal image of deep red 'Cherry Brandy' black-eyed Susan flowers pictured in bright sunshine.

The plant maintains a compact growth habit and reaches 24 inches in height, making it ideal for small spots that could use a pop of color from midsummer to fall.

A square picture of Rudbeckia hirta 'Cherry Brandy' flowers growing in a sunny backyard.

‘Cherry Brandy’

Head to Nature Hills Nursery to sweeten up your garden with this petite stunner.

5. Double Golden Gloriosa

This standout has four-inch-wide, bright yellow, double blossoms and a small black eye at the center on top of three-foot-tall stems, making for a glorious display from May through October.

A close up of a bright yellow 'Double Golden Gloriosa' flower growing in the garden pictured in bright sunshine on a soft focus background.

When you cut a stem for a cut flower display, the blossoms tend to stay fresh and new-looking much longer than some others.

A close up square image of 'Double Golden Gloriosa' black-eyed Susan flowers growing wild.

‘Double Golden Gloriosa’

Pick up a small packet or an ounce of seeds at Eden Brothers if you want to make this one part of your summer garden.

6. Indian Summer

For a classic R. hirta cultivar, you can’t go wrong with ‘Indian Summer.’ The oversized, semi-double blooms feature golden petals surrounding a black center.

A close up of bright yellow flowers of 'Indian Summer' black-eyed Susans growing in the summer backyard.

Each plant can reach up to four feet tall and is covered from head to toe in blossoms.

It’s such a heavy bloomer that you might not even be able to see the foliage for the profusion of blossoms, providing you with a long-lasting display that will stay true through even the hottest dog days of summer.

This one is such a standout that it nabbed the All-America Selections award in 1995 and the Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit in 2000.

7. Irish Eyes

It’s impossible not to smile when you see this R. hirta cultivar nodding in the breeze. A bright green central disk is surrounded by orange and lemon-yellow petals that are particularly long and wide.

A close up horizontal image of Rudbeckia hirta 'Irish Eyes' flowers with orange and yellow petals and green centers.

The 30-inch tall stems are long and straight, perfect for cuttings. Plus, this plant blooms even more profusely if you regularly cut it back, so it’s a win-win, since you’ll see more flowers outside while you also have more for your vases inside.

8. Glitters Like Gold

A pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, the booty from a pirate’s chest, the sparkle of an heirloom ring. Gold looms large in our imaginations with its beautiful promise of riches and good things to come.

‘Glitters Like Gold’ captures that spirit with its elegant, extremely long golden petals around a petite black eye. The plant is a prolific bloomer but stays relatively petite at 18 inches tall.

'Glitters Like Gold' black-eyed Susan flowers growing en mass in the summer garden.

‘Glitters Like Gold’

An improved selection of ‘Goldsturm,’ this cultivar is resistant to fungal disease. Want to bring your pot of gold home? Nature Hills Nursery has live plants in #1 containers.

9. Goldilocks

This R. hirta cultivar is juuust right, especially if you want something a little different from the rest.

A close up of the bright orange 'Goldilocks' flowers growing in bright sunshine.

‘Goldilocks’ has unusual double flowers with narrow petals that curl and twist like blonde ringlets, all framing big brown eyes.

This isn’t a petite little thing, however. She grows up to four feet tall.

Bright yellow 'Goldilocks' black-eyed Susan flowers in full sunshine.

‘Goldilocks’

Grab a small packet, ounce, or quarter-pound of seeds for yourself, or to take with you to Grandma’s house, at Eden Brothers.

10. Goldsturm

R. fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ stands out for its long, strong stems holding bright orange-yellow blossoms. That’s why, if you like to cut your flowers, this is a great option.

Bright yellow 'Goldsturm' Rudbeckia flowers with dark centers pictured in strong sunshine.

With ample pest and disease resistance, and an extra-long blooming time, it’s easy to see why this cultivar won the Perennial Plant Association’s Plant of the Year Award in 1999.

This species is also known as orange coneflower.

A square image of yellow 'Goldsturm' flowers growing in a mixed planting.

‘Goldsturm’

Sound good? Bring home a pack of three, six, or nine bare root plants from Eden Brothers.

11. Green Eyes

Black-eyed Susans earned their name from the dark disk floret at the center of the petals, but in this case, those black eyes have turned green.

Bright yellow flowers with green centers of Rudbeckia hirta 'Green Eyes' growing in a garden border.

On this R. hirta cultivar, broadly-spaced lemon yellow petals surround a bright green center, all on a two-foot-tall plant.

A close up of a Rudbeckia hirta 'Green Eyes' flower pictured on a soft focus background.

‘Green Eyes’

For a packet or ounce of seeds for this unique cultivar, visit Eden Brothers to have some sent to your home.

12. Henry Eilers

The bright flowers on R. subtomentosa ‘Henry Eilers’ look like bright little stars with a deep brown center. The florets are bright yellow and rolled, giving them an appearance similar to quills.

A close up horizontal image of Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henry Eilers’ pictured on a soft focus background.

The plant itself is tall, up to four feet, and one of the most reliable, long-blooming cultivars.

The blooms also have a sweet fragrance, something not all black-eyed Susans have – hence the common name for this species, sweet black-eyed Susan.

13. Little Goldstar

Sometimes you want a big ball of sunshine in your yard and other days you simply want a little smattering of golden stars. If you’re dreaming of the latter, get to know ‘Little Goldstar.’

'Little Goldstar' black-eyed Susan blooms growing in a wildflower meadow.

Each plant is covered in a constellation of proportionally petite, star-shaped flowers on a 16-by-16-inch plant.

Each little floral star tends to twinkle for an extended time, so you can have a display from spring straight through fall.

A square image of a Rudbeckia fulgida 'Little Goldstar' flower on a soft focus background.

‘Little Goldstar’

Wondering about these twinkling little stars? Bring this R. fulgida cultivar home in two-and-a-half-quart or two-gallon containers from Home Depot and get to know them up close.

14. Little Suzy

Wake up and say hello to a cheerful flower that packs a whole lot of punch. What ‘Little Suzy’ lacks in stature she makes up for in pizzazz.

Each compact 24-inch plant is packed full of small yellow blossoms with a brown-purple center that pop up in midsummer and last until the first frost.

A square picture of bright yellow Rudbeckia fulgida var. speciosa 'Little Suzy' flowers on a soft focus background.

‘Little Suzy’

This little lady also has a big name, R. fulgida var. speciosa ‘Viette’s Little Suzy.’ You might see her labeled as “Viette’s Rudbeckia” or “Viette’s Suzy.”

Whatever you call her, she’s worth bringing home. Nature Hills Nursery can help you to make that happen.

15. Marmalade

This classic-looking R. hirta cultivar has bright, golden yellow petals that transition to a cheerful orange at the base, and a chocolate brown center on a flower that stretches five inches across.

A bright yellow 'Marmalade' black-eyed Susan flower growing in a wildflower meadow pictured on a soft focus background.

The eye at the center has a particularly pleasant cone shape that adds to the overall appeal.

This cultivar blooms reliably all summer long, from late spring to early fall, on 24-inch-tall stalks.

‘Marmalade’

Want to add a big scoop of marmalade to your garden? Eden Brothers carries small or one-ounce packets of seeds.

16. Maya

Nope, that’s not an oversized marigold on steroids. That’s ‘Maya,’ an eye-catching R. hirta cultivar.

A close up horizontal image of a pompom like black-eyed Susan flower Rudbeckia hirta 'Maya' pictured on a soft focus background.

The fully double flowers are bright yellow with a green and brown center on two-foot stems.

At first glance, you could easily mistake the frilly, pom-pom-like blossoms for an extremely large marigold, but this plant is all black-eyed Susan, with the drought tolerance, deer resistance, and butterfly-attracting qualities that these plants all share.

17. Prairie Sun

If you’ve ever watched a sunset over the prairie, then you can imagine just how beautiful this particular rudbeckia is.

A close up of orange and yellow 'Prairie Sun' black-eyed Susan flowers growing in bright sunshine.

In the middle of each flower is a green center like the swaying fields of big bluestem grass, surrounded by petals that start out orange in the center, fading to lemon yellow at the tips.

This plant reaches three feet tall when mature, with long, firm stems that lend themselves nicely to cutting.

A square image of Rudbeckia hirta 'Prairie Sun' flowers growing in the backyard.

‘Prairie Sun’

‘Prairie Sun’ took home the All-America Selections Award in 2003.

To add some native splendor to your garden, grab a two-and-a-half-inch live plant at Home Depot.

Black-Eyed Susans Are Marvelously Varied

There’s no denying that black-eyed Susans are beautiful, in addition to being drought-resistant, hardy, long-blooming, and good at self-seeding.

But many gardeners don’t realize how varied they can be, with quill-like, curly, or extra-long petals in a variety of colors besides yellow.

A close up horizontal image of black-eyed Susan flowers growing in the garden pictured on a soft focus background.

So what’s your favorite? Have you grown any of these? Do you plan to? Let us know in the comments!

If you’re interested in learning more about black-eyed Susans and their many cousins – those flowers in the Asteraceae family – we have some guides that might be helpful. Check out these next:

Photo of author
Kristine Lofgren is a writer, photographer, reader, and gardening lover from outside Portland, Oregon. She was raised in the Utah desert, and made her way to the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two dogs in 2018. Her passion is focused these days on growing ornamental edibles, and foraging for food in the urban and suburban landscape.

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