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Saturday - June 05, 2010

From: Richardson, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Problems with giant coneflower in Richardson TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Dear Mr Smarty Plants- I have had a giant coneflower in my garden for 2 years now. This year it came up like it always had..got lots of leaves and then withered..turned brown and died. It got plenty of sun and I have no idea why it just up and died. Needless to say I am heart broken. Can these coneflowers survive Richardson/Dallas winters? Is there something else I should know about them perhaps?

ANSWER:

We recently had a question about a plant that had been thriving simply dying overnight. A little discussion and detective work gave us the idea this was animal damage, as in cats or dogs using it for a bathroom. If you know you have cats and/or dogs loose in your neighborhood, you could at least consider that possibility. Depending on where you are, it could be animals eating the roots, although it would not have died so abruptly. If your Rudbeckia maxima (great coneflower) came up in the Spring, it would seem it can easily survive your winters, as just about the whole state had much colder weather, with sudden freezes and prolonged periods of freezing this year. 

If you saw any kind of insect damage, or suspected an accidental spraying of herbicide, perhaps drifting from another location, that could explain it. However, most native plants can withstand a few local insects. Frankly, in sudden and unexplained plant deaths like this, we seldom know the truth about what happened. If you feel that the animal damage theory is correct, you could try spreading an aromatic shredded hardwood bark mulch over the area. It is too late in the season to plant a replacement, but if you spread the mulch and then replant in the Fall, the animals might have lost interest in your area and gone somewhere else.

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