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?

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
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
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 Wildflowers Questions

Variety of colors in bluebonnet seeds from Houston
November 18, 2013 - Bluebonnet seeds I have collected are a variety of colors, from the sandy/tan color to a grayish color and black color. Are all variations viable? Are they equally viable?
view the full question and answer

Wildflowers for Angel Fire, NM
March 20, 2007 - What wildflowers would you recommend for Angel Fire, NM, at an elevation of 9150 ft. with rocky soil and a windy, northwest exposure? Thank you for your help!
view the full question and answer

Establishing a wildflower meadow in Madison GA
January 21, 2010 - Can a wildflower meadow be established by seeding in a sunny pasture without removing all existing vegetation, just mowing low and slightly loosening soil with the teeth on a front end loader?
view the full question and answer

Planting for wildlife in Union County, New Jersey.
September 23, 2010 - I would like to get rid of my front lawn, which is small, and replace with wildflowers or something that bees, birds, butterflies would like. Live in Union County, New Jersey, which is central-north....
view the full question and answer

Native flowers for cutting for wedding in June
January 25, 2009 - My husband and I are hosting a wedding reception for our daughter and her husband in Austin in June. If possible, we would like to use live flowers or live colorful plants as centerpieces and decorat...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center