Thunbergia alata, commonly called black-eyed Susie vine, is a showy tropical annual that thrives in Zone 8. Despite its common name, it has no relation to black-eyed Susie (Rudbeckia hirta). A native of Africa, black-eyed Susie vine needs full sun with some afternoon shade. Stems and leaves are green and flowers can be yellow, white, orange, red, salmon, or ivory.
This annual is fast-growing and needs a vertical stand to support it. The vines twine around themselves and anchor the plant to the trellis. Black-eyed Susie vine can be grown in a container or even as a ground cover, but it is more difficult to maintain as a ground cover. www.plants.ces.NCSU.edu
Plants bloom from mid-summer to frost often with the best display in the late season. Seeds are produced late summer, and the fruit resembles a bird’s head with a round base and a long ‘beak.’ Each fruit contains 2 or 4 semi-circular reticulate seeds. www.gardeningknowhow.com
Black-eyed Susie vine provides a dramatic focal point when grown on a tall tuteur or other decorative support in a border or bed. The bees, butterflies and hummingbirds love the flowers.
Black-eyed Susie vine has no serious pests and is rarely browsed by deer or bunnies.
Consider adding this spectacular vine to your garden next spring. You will be glad that you did.
Photos and information by Jeanne Pavero, North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox