There are a lot of fun plants out there that can be added to a smaller garden, but one of the more interesting ones is the black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia spp., most commonly Rudbeckia hirta).
These look like miniature sunflowers, which is fitting because they’re actually related to the sunflower.
However, while these sun-loving and drought-tolerant flowers can handle average conditions, they’re prone to a wide range of pests and diseases if not cared for.
The good news is that you can use companion planting (also known as complementary gardening) to protect these fun plants while creating a more interesting garden bed with their bright yellow flowers.
What Are The Best Black-Eyed Susan Companion Plants?
The best companions for black-eyed Susans are those that can handle well-draining soil and will only need watering when the soil is dry 1″ to 2″ inches down.
However, you can cheese your way past the water restrictions and soil limitations by keeping some companion plants in submerged pots.
Benefits Of Black-Eyed Susans
Not only are black-eyes Susans attractive, they actually provide some benefits for other plants like perennials, native prairie, and meadow species in the landscape bed.
Depending on the species or cultivar, they can grow up to 3’ feet tall.
This makes them great foreground plants for flowering bushes or sunflowers, and they can also serve as a middle row if a low ground cover is used for the borders.
But black-eyes Susans actually do more than just look good.
They repel deer and often rabbits, protecting the plants they surround.
They also attract birds, butterflies, nectar-loving critters, and beneficial insects.
Beneficial Black-Eyed Susan Companion Plants
Black-eyed Susans are prone to a wide range of pests, including:
- Asiatic garden beetle
- Cabbage moths
- Four-lined plant bug
- Fuller rose beetle
- Spider mites
- Stalk borer
To combat these pests, you’ll want to add some companion plants that repel them.
Here are some great plants to add to the bed to repel those pests that will attack black-eyed Susans.
Again, note that the best companions will have similar care requirements, but some of these can be grown in submerged pots to prevent a clash of conditions, especially herbs you may want to harvest for the kitchen.
- Alliums such as garlic, onion, and chives repel spider mites and a range of other pests while providing white and purple blooms and are (of course) edible.
- Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is a nectar-rich plant that attracts butterflies and other beneficial insects.
- Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) is widely used in Italian cooking. Still, it can also attract a wide range of natural predators to your garden, such as ladybugs and parasitic wasps.
- Cosmos (Cosmos spp.) are wonderful flowering plants that attract a wide range of beneficial insects.
- Cleome (Cleome hassleriana) doesn’t repel any pests, but the plant attracts Nesidiocoris tenuis, which combats both spider mites and tomato borers.
- Creeping thyme (Thymus praecox and Thymus serpyllum) can be quite useful in the kitchen, but these two herbs also form a dense ground cover that prevents weeds.
- Dill (Anethum graveolens) has a wide range of culinary uses while producing attractive blooms that draw the attention of parasitic wasps.
- Marigolds (genera Calendula and Tagetes) not only provide a great color match for black-eyed Susans but also attract beneficial insects. It also repels many insect pests and releases a chemical that can help many plants grow more robust.
- Mint (Mentha spp.) is a highly versatile companion plant that is edible, gives off a pleasant scent, looks great, and repels a wide range of pests.
- Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus) is a valuable kitchen herb that repels aphids and other pests.
- Sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima) protects the ground during drought conditions and will attract several beneficial insects, including several predatory wasp species.
Ornamental Companion Plants
Not all plants provide care benefits, and some are just great to add for beauty.
The following plants are compatible with black-eyed Susan plants but don’t have any additional qualities beyond possibly helping to attract pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
- Aster (Aster spp.)
- Blanket flower (Gaillardia spp.)
- Clasping coneflower (Dracopis amplexicaulis)
- Daylily (Hemerocallis spp.)
- Eastern purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
- Flowering spurge (Euphorbia corallata)
- Hollyhock (Alcea spp.) – red flower varieties attract butterflies and hummingbirds
- Lance-leaf coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata)
- Ox-eye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) – Note: prefers damp soil
- Pearly everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea)
- Russian sage (Salvia yangii)
- Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum × superbum)
- Stonecrop (Sedum spp.)
- Tall larkspur (Delphinium exaltatum)
- White phlox (Phlox paniculata ‘David’)
- Woodland sage (Salvia nemorosa)