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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

Visit Monticello’s Online Shop to check for seeds or plants of Black-eyed Susan Vine.
Growth Type: 
Yellow, Black
Hardiness Zones: 
Zone 10
Location at Monticello: 
Winding Flower Walk
Planting Conditions: 
Partial Shade
Blooming History: 
July 14, 2015 to October 14, 2015June 17, 2016 to November 12, 2016July 26, 2017 to November 10, 2017July 18, 2018 to November 22, 2018August 4, 2020 to December 1, 2020


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