Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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 Diseases and Disorders Questions

Dealing with live oak suckers in Central Texas
March 05, 2015 - Hi, I have a couple huge Live Oak trees in my back yard. Trunks are 4' in diameter. These Live Oaks produce a lot of root sprouts/suckers. I had always head that a tree's roots feed on water/oxyg...
view the full question and answer

Lantanas failing to bloom, turning brown
October 06, 2007 - The lantana in my front yard does not bloom, is not overwatered but does get watered, leaves turned brown and plants generally have not grown. The lantana in the rest of the yard are in bloom and lo...
view the full question and answer

Restoration of mistflowers suffering from wet season
June 27, 2007 - I have planted gregg's mistflower in a bed that receives morning sun and afternoon semi-shade. It was beautiful and covered with blooms and butterflies this spring, but suddenly has become brown and ...
view the full question and answer

Red, puffy growths on Concord grape vine
July 07, 2015 - I have a growth on my grapevine that is red and puffy almost looks like it is full of water. It is a Concord grapevine. I have images I can send to you! It is on the stems.
view the full question and answer

Western soapberry dropping leaves in San Antonio
June 03, 2013 - My Western Soapberry tree (China berry?) Suddenly started dropping full, perfectly healthy green, leaf units. Now half the tree is turning yellow. There is a second tree in the yard not far from this ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.