Thunbergia alata
Common Name: blackeyed Susan vine 
Type: Vine
Family: Acanthaceae
Native Range: Tropical Africa
Zone: 10 to 11
Height: 3.00 to 8.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Orange-yellow
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual, Ground Cover
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Evergreen


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 10-11. In St. Louis, it is perhaps best grown as an annual vine that is replaced each spring. Grow in organically rich, fertile, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best with some afternoon shade. Easily grown from seed sown directly in the garden after last frost date. Start seed indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost date for earlier bloom. Also may be grown in containers that can be overwintered indoors in a warm sun room. Cuttings may be taken from favorite plants in late summer for overwintering.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Thunbergia alata, commonly called black-eyed Susan vine, is native to tropical areas of East Africa. It is a tropical evergreen twining vine that eventually climbs to 20’ in frost free areas. As an annual, it will grow to 3-8’ tall in a single season. Features ovate-triangular toothed green leaves (to 3” long) and solitary axillary salverform orange-yellow flowers (to 2” long) with 5 spreading petal lobes and dark throats. Blooms in summer to fall, but best bloom is often in late summer and fall after the hot summer temperatures moderate. A number of different cultivars are available with white, creamy white, light yellow and sulphur yellow flowers.

Genus name honors Carl Peter Thunberg (1743-1828), Swedish botanist. He traveled in South Africa and Japan and became professor of botany at Uppsala University.

The specific epithet alata means "winged" and refers to the winged petioles (leaf stems) of this species.


Watch for scale, spider mites and whiteflies on indoor plants.


Trellises, arbors, fences or other structures around the home. Also effective in hanging baskets where the vine can twist around the basket supports or in patio containers with a small trellis in the container. Suitable for use as a temporary or annual ground cover.