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Growth Type Perennial
Hardiness Zones Perennial:9-11
Planting Conditions Partial Shade
TJ Documented Plant No

This showy tender perennial vine is native to tropical Africa and India and was introduced to Britain in 1823.[1]  It was often listed as an evergreen climber for hot houses in early 19th-century catalogs. Joseph Breck described yellow, white, and orange flowered varieties by mid-century and Peter Henderson and William Robinson both recommended it as a half-hardy annual climber for short trellises, or against walls.

The vine is included in a charming book, The Parlor Garden, which Jefferson's granddaughter Cornelia Jefferson Randolph translated and edited from French in English and published in 1861. The book notes: "The Thunbergia lays hold of any thing that is within its reach, without ever rising very high. It becomes covered with charming flowers, of a fine nankeen yellow, set off with a black spot in the middle. You find it, as well as the passion-flower and the Mandevilles, at all the greenhouses."

Black-eyed Susan Vine prefers moist but well-drained, fertile soil and full sun to part shade. Requires a trellis or some support of the tendrils; prefers morning sun and afternoon shade and does not like intense heat. Soak seed in warm water 1-8 hours before sowing in pots or in the ground after last frost. Can be used in planters and hanging baskets, boxes, urns, and rock work.[2]

Visit Monticello’s Online Shop to check for seeds or plants of Black-eyed Susan Vine.

Typical Blooming Dates: July into November
Blossom Colors: Yellow, Black
Location at Monticello: Winding Flower Walk


Further Sources

1. This article is based on a Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants Information Sheet.

2. Denise Wiles Adams, Restoring American Gardens: An Encyclopedia of Heirloom Ornamental Plants, 1640-1940 (Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, Inc., 2004), 152.