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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



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