En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
3 ratings

Tuesday - August 26, 2008

From: Philadelphia, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Transplants, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Dying blackeyed Susans in new garden in Pennsylvania
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Hi Mr. Smarty Plants! I have recently planted black eyed susans in a newly dug garden along with some cone flowers. The other flowers are doing fine but the black eyed susans have all dried up and are dying. I water them every other morning, and they get full sun with the exception of some shade in the early morning. I don't see any disease or evidence of being eaten by bugs on them. What could be causing them to die? Please help a new and eager to learn gardener.


Rudbeckia hirta (blackeyed Susan is a hearty plant, native to Pennsylvania (as well as most of the rest of the U.S.) and should not be acting like that. We will throw out some possibilities, and perhaps you can decide if you want to keep the plants or give them up. First, since they were recently planted, it could be transplant shock. Ordinarily, we recommend that you plant bedding plants (which is what we are assuming you have) in the Spring, rather than in the hotter parts of summer. If the plants had already been on the nursery tables for several weeks, they could have been root-bound, or just dried out and not very viable. Often, plants sold in nurseries are artificially forced into bloom to make them more attractive to buyers, and later they will droop or wilt. About the best help we can offer you is to treat them for transplant shock. Trim off about the upper 1/4 to 1/3 of the plant, especially removing the dying or dead leaves, but trying to leave as many green leaves, for nutrition, as possible. Next, since it is Summer, and you say they are in full sun just about all day, put a light mulch, preferably an organic mulch of compost or shredded bark over their roots. Don't pile it against the plant stems, that will just encourage molds. Then, try giving it a slow gentle watering, not from above if possible, about twice a week. Don't fertilize, you never should fertilize a plant under stress. The blackeyed Susan is considered an annual to a short-lived perennial, so don't fret too much if they don't make it. See the propagation instructions on the webpage linked above; you might want to consider planting seeds in the Fall, rather than buying bedding plants in the Spring.

Rudbeckia hirta

Rudbeckia hirta

Rudbeckia hirta

Rudbeckia hirta



More Herbs/Forbs Questions

What to do with 200 yucca seedlings in Sandusky, OH?
August 31, 2013 - I have over two hundred 3 month old yucca seedlings from my last yr. Yucca plants. I soaked the the seeds for 24 hrs. planted them in trays and now they are abt. 2 inch tall. My question is, should I ...
view the full question and answer

Butterfly garden from Buffalo, NY
February 20, 2014 - I'd like to replace the grass in my front yard with a native butterfly garden that will suit the larval and adult stages of butterflies in Western New York. The patch in question faces north and gets...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a drainage easement in central Texas
September 29, 2008 - I have a 1/3 acre of drainage easement behind my home. I would like to cover it with wildflowers. It is only wet during or shortly after a rain and otherwise does not have water. I have channelled ...
view the full question and answer

Texas native shade plants for metal troughs in Austin
December 22, 2012 - Interested in finding Texas natives that would do well in metal troughs in the shade.
view the full question and answer

Combining yellow columbine and Malvaviscus arboreus
March 07, 2008 - Can yellow columbine coexist peacefully with Malvaviscus arboreus? I have a nice stand of the former and would like to plant the latter to take over when the columbine starts to look ratty in the hea...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center