How To Keep Black-Eyed Susans From Falling Over

Black-eyed Susans are pretty meadow flowers that can grow knee or waist-high under favorable conditions. Their height makes them perfect border flowers or centerpieces in your garden. However, some varieties can grow over 3 feet (90 cm), making it challenging to keep them upright.

Here are some steps to prevent black-eyed Susans from falling over:

  1. Grow the plant against a structure that blocks the wind.
  2. Tie your black-eyed Susan to a stake.
  3. Provide your black-eyed Susan with enough water.
  4. Avoid over-fertilizing your plant.
  5. Prune the edges lower than the center for support.
  6. Provide enough sunlight for your black-eyed Susan.

There are various reasons why black-eyed Susans may fall over. Addressing the cause often helps ensure that you can keep your plants from falling over. As you read on, you may find the solution that suits your situation.

1. Grow the Plant Against a Structure That Blocks the Wind

Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta) typically grow 2-3 feet (60 – 90 cm) and do not require much physical support for growth. However, if you live in a relatively windy area, it may be why your plants are falling over.

If that were the case, you could plant your black-eyed Susans against structures that can block the wind, such as a fence or a house wall. Although there usually isn’t a problem with such setups, your plant may complain about the lack of sunlight and experience other problems.

Therefore, you have to consider the amount of light and the direction of the wind when selecting a spot to plant your black-eyed Susans.

Be careful about choosing the wall against which you intend to place your black-eyed Susans. Generally, an east-facing wall would provide them with enough morning sun to meet their light needs while shielding them against strong winds.

In contrast, a west-facing wall will expose your plant to the burning afternoon sun. Since the US is in the northern hemisphere, a south-facing garden receives the most sunlight throughout the day, making it the best location for your black-eyed Susans.

Avoid placing your black-eyed Susans against a north-facing wall, as this area receives the least light throughout the day. Although these plants can thrive in a partially shaded area, they produce the best blooms in summer when they receive direct sunlight for at least six hours a day.

2. Tie Your Black-Eyed Susan to a Stake 

It is rare to find black-eyed Susans that grow above 3 feet (90 cm) tall unless you have a giant hybrid that can grow up to 7 feet (210 cm). 

However, it is also true that natural conditions like healthy and fertile soil can encourage regular black-eyed Susans to grow taller. Meanwhile, other factors, such as limited spread space, can encourage the plant to grow upwards.

So whether you have a tall variety or simply notice your plant drooping, you can help keep it upright by tying it against a stake. Here are some things to consider when doing so:

  • Use green stakes to keep the aesthetic of your garden. Black-eyed Susans have green hairy stems. Green stakes won’t stand out too much and steal the attention from your plants, especially after the flower season.
  • Keep the stake two inches (5cm) away from the center of the plant. This distance is enough to avoid puncturing or damaging the roots. Ideally, you should put the stake opposite the direction of your plant’s leaning. It will help pull your plant back and keep it upright.
  • Bury at least one foot (30cm) of the stake into the ground. This length is necessary to support the weight of the plant. Black-eyed Susans are not heavy, but when they start falling over too deep, they can pull your stake down with them.
  • Leave at least three feet (90cm) of the stake above the ground. Regular varieties of black-eyed Susans generally grow up to this height. Even if you had a taller variety, this length is enough to keep the plant from falling over.
  • Use a garden twine or green velcro to secure your plant against the stake. Velcro is your best bet if you want to make it unnoticeable. Also, it is easy to adjust as the plant grows taller.

3. Provide Your Black-Eyed Susan With Enough Water

Often, your plant is drooping or falling over because of a lack of water. Although most varieties of black-eyed Susans are highly drought-tolerant, not having enough water for extended periods will make the stems limp, resulting in the plants falling over or drooping. 

To confirm if the cause of drooping is the lack of water, you can check other symptoms of under-watering, including:

  • Crisp, dry leaves.
  • Drooping leaves.
  • Dry, crumbly soil.
  • Brown leaf tips.

In addition, slow growth can also be a sign of underwatering since black-eyed Susans are typically fast-growing plants.

If your plant falls over and you notice any of the signs above, try watering your plant more frequently than usual. Chances are, the water drains too quickly, or the environment is too hot, drying up the soil more quickly.

If you have a perennial variety of black-eyed Susan, you can add mulch to the soil around the base of the plant to keep it moist for longer. It can also prevent the seeds from being sown into the ground. Otherwise, the seeds may germinate and compete with the mother plant over the water supply.

4. Avoid Over-Fertilizing Your Plant

Black-eyed Susans are pretty sturdy plants that do not require much care to thrive and grow. They’re also very prolific self-sowers that can survive in moderately healthy soil. That’s why it’s almost always unnecessary to fertilize them.

Over-fertilization is another reason why your black-eyed Susans are falling over, and it is easy to tell if that is the case because you will observe the simultaneous presence of several other symptoms, such as:

  • Drooping and wilting leaves.
  • Browning leaf tips.
  • A noticeable white crust on the soil surface around the base of the plant.
  • Stunted growth.

So if you notice these signs a few weeks after applying fertilizer to your plant, your black-eyed Susans are most likely falling over due to over-fertilization. Excessive amounts of fertilizer can result in the plant wilting, making it appear to be falling over. 

Also, the accumulation of fertilizer salts on the soil surface can prohibit the plant from absorbing water and other essential nutrients. This issue can negatively affect plant growth. The lack of water can cause the stems to become limp and weak.

Even when you stake the plants, they will continue to wilt unless you fix the issue of overfertilization. While prevention is always ideal, you can still employ some ways to fix over-fertilization. Here’s how:

  • Remove the visible salts on the soil surface. You can use a trowel to remove the white crust. Be careful not to take out too much soil. Replace the amount you remove with sterile soil.
  • Water your plant thoroughly. If you planted your black-eyed Susans in soil with good drainage, a thorough watering could help leach the remaining salt in the soil. If you usually water the soil once a week, you can increase the frequency to 2 – 3 times weekly.
  • Remove dry or wilted leaves. When the leaves die due to over-fertilization, it will be impossible to revive them. Pull them out or use sterile garden shears to cut them off. It will help your plant focus on growing new and healthy ones.

It can take two to four weeks to see any improvement in your plant.

5. Prune the Edges Lower Than the Center for Support

Perennial black-eyed Susans live over two years and may require pruning after the flower season. Pruning can also prevent unwanted birds and insects from swarming your garden to feed on dead flower heads.

In addition to these benefits, pruning your black-eyed Susans can also help prevent them from falling over. You can trim the outermost branches up to 50% of their length, reducing the percentage as you move towards the center.

The lower edges can support the main stem and reduce the outward weight pulling the plant down. If it’s not enough to keep your plant upright, you can tie the plant to a stake for added support.

6. Provide Enough Sunlight for Your Black-Eyed Susan

Sometimes, keeping your black-eyed Susan from falling over is as simple as providing it with enough sunlight. The lack of sunlight often causes the plant to droop or lean towards the light source.

If your plant receives sufficient direct sunlight (at least six hours a day), it will most likely grow happy and healthy. Consider transplanting your black-eyed Susans to an area where they can receive more light and see if it improves the situation.

Final Thoughts

Black-eyed Susans do not typically grow so tall to warrant physical support to prevent them from falling over. However, certain environmental or growing conditions can cause them to droop, requiring human intervention. Such issues are generally easy to avoid.

If your full-grown black-eyed Susans show signs of leaning or drooping, observe them carefully to determine the cause and address it accordingly.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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