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Sunday - June 28, 2009

From: Lancaster, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Planting, Seeds and Seeding, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Failure to come up of blackeyed susans in Lancaster PA
Answered by: Barbara Medford


My blackeyed susans have been blooming for ten years. All of a sudden this year they didn't come up at all..why?


We frequently get questions from gardeners similar to yours, in which a plant that has done well in a certain place suddenly begins to fail or, as in your case, simply disappears. We really have no way of knowing what has happened, about all we can do is give you questions to ask yourself to try to determine the cause and what to do about it. If those plants have done well in one spot for ten years, what about the environment could have changed in the last year? During the time they should have been coming up, was there unusual cold or rain of drought?

From our Native Plant Database, we learned this about:  Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherrima (blackeyed Susan):

"Long-lasting blooms; if happy, will behave as perennial. This plant is a biennial - it produces a rosette of leaves the first year and flowers in the second year."

In other words, every year some of your plants were just non-blooming rosettes, and some were blooming (and seeding) second-year plants.  The plant must have been reseeding itself all those years, and for some reason, last year, it did not. So, this problem may not be one that just happened, it may have to do with an environmental change of some sort in the last two years that has broken its growing, blooming and seeding cycle. If you still like the plants, and the the area around them has not changed sufficiently to discourage their growing (too much shade from other plants, for instance), you might try refreshing the bed, adding compost or other organic matter to loosen it up and improve the drainage, and then plant fresh seeds at the appropriate time for your climate.

Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherrima

Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherrima

Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherrima

Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherrima




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