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Black-eyed Susan Vine

Thunbergia alata

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

Further Sources

Growth Type: 
Yellow, Black
Hardiness Zones: 
Zone 10
Location at Monticello: 
Winding Flower Walk
Planting Conditions: 
Partial Shade
Blooming History: 
2015 Jul 14 to 2015 Oct 142016 Jun 17 to 2016 Nov 122017 Jul 26 to 2017 Nov 102018 Jul 18 to 2018 Nov 22
Visit Monticello’s Online Shop to check for seeds or plants of Black-eyed Susan Vine.


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