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
Not Yet Rated

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


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?


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.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:

Rudbeckia maxima

Rudbeckia maxima

Rudbeckia maxima

Rudbeckia maxima



More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Dying leaves on Autumn Blaze Maple tree in Littleton, CO
May 25, 2012 - I have an autumn blaze maple where for the last two years the left side of the tree turns light green, then brown, and leaves die. The right side is dark green, normal. Is this a water over/under pr...
view the full question and answer

Growing Dwarf Yaupon Holly in Texas
December 04, 2013 - We planted 10 extra dwarf yaupons in our Austin front yard. They were identified as 'Gremici' dwarf yaupon. I googled them to get more information about them in order to determine why five have di...
view the full question and answer

Advisability of trimming oak trees in August
July 13, 2007 - In general,what is your opinion on pruning oak trees in August? If it is positive, should the extreme moisture of this year affect the timing?
view the full question and answer

Disease or insect damage on a Mexican plum
September 08, 2013 - Help, Our Mexican plum tree is about 13-14 years old. Earlier this year we noticed the trunk is oozing black stuff and whole branches are dying off. We have watched as our beloved tree has lost most ...
view the full question and answer

Mexican Lime Turning Yellow
March 25, 2015 - What causes moderate yellowing of 40% of the leaves of an 8 year old Mexican Lime Tree that is booming and blooming right now with lots of thick new growth? I used a general garden fertilizer a few ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center