En Español

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?

Share

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
3 ratings

Tuesday - July 05, 2011

From: Nashville, TN
Region: Southeast
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pests, Herbs/Forbs, Wildflowers
Title: Petals not developing on blackeyed susans from Nashville TN
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have an established "patch" of black eyes susans. This year, the leaves are beautiful, the centers black..but the petals are practically non existent. They didn't seem to develop correctly. Any idea what's up?

ANSWER:

Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherrima (Blackeyed susan) appears on this USDA Plant Profile map to be native in or near Davidson Co., and you say your patch is established, so the soils should not be the problem. This plant is pollinated by bees and flies but also attracts butterflies, and is a larval host for the Silvery Checkerspot.

Do the petals look like they have been chewed at all, or are they stunted or misshapen? Take a look at this page of images of Blackeyed Susan from our Native Plant Image Gallery. There seems to be quite a variety of leaf types and colorations, but no closeups, at least, of flowers with stunted petals. If you find any caterpillars, they could be the culprit, and are probably the larvae of the butterfly mentioned above.

If you have eliminated all those problems from consideration, we can only fall back on the weather. Here in Texas, we are in such an extreme heat wave and drought that flowers bloom, set seed and go into near dormancy, just to survive. The Blackeyed Susan is a biennial or can be a short-lived perennial. This plant does not need to be fertilized, but it does like some moisture. Our best bet is that it is adapting itself to adverse conditions, but continuing to set seed (the black center), and hold on until the weather gets a little easier on plants and people.

 

More Pests Questions

Fungus Spots on Native Bush Honeysuckle
December 03, 2010 - My native bush honeysuckle plants that I have along my back fence have leaves that are turning yellow with spots. It appears to be a type of fungus, but not powdery mildew. Any suggestions as to what ...
view the full question and answer

Help for Collapsing Tradescantia
August 14, 2013 - My tradescantia has completely collapsed at the crown. The stems are yellowish. This happened once before when I had it planted in full sun and I just had to discard it. This time I have one plante...
view the full question and answer

Carolina buckthorn and Neem Oil Spray Damage
April 27, 2015 - It's April, I have a Carolina buckthorn that seemed to be doing well, about 8 feet tall, about 2 years old in part shade. It was putting out new leaves about a month ago and seemed to have infestati...
view the full question and answer

White snails in Austin, TX.
October 01, 2014 - We walked through an undisturbed site off of Hwy. 71 near Old Bee Caves Rd. and there were little white snails on the majority of the plants on site (not specific to certain types of plants). What typ...
view the full question and answer

Tulip trees losing bark in OH
July 11, 2011 - We have two tulip trees in our yard that are losing their bark at the base of the trunk. I am careful with the mower keeping away from the tree when I mow. What could the problem be and what can I d...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center