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

Smarty Plants on wildflower meadow gardening
December 08, 2004 - My local elementary school in Decatur, Texas (north central) has an open field of wonderful wildflowers in front of it. This year, they were mowed before the flowers went to seed. What is a good rul...
view the full question and answer

Texas wildflower guide with every flower listed
November 09, 2012 - Is there a Texas wildflower guide that contains every single flower that grows in the state? I have a few flowers on my land I haven't been able to identify because they aren't in the guide I have. ...
view the full question and answer

Wildflowers to grow in dense crownvetch in Missouri
July 27, 2008 - What wildflowers might grow in dense crownvetch?
view the full question and answer

Landscaping recommendations for site in Dubuque, IA
March 27, 2010 - I need a seed recommendation. Here are the variables: Location: Dubuque, IA (east Central Iowa) Soil type: Sandy to sandy and gravelly. Part is a riverbank facing east. Steep bank then flat to ...
view the full question and answer

Resources for a green roof project from Wayne PA
April 14, 2013 - Hello! I am researching a project to create a native wildflower/ turf mix for a green roof. I would ideally like to grow it as a sod mat, and then install it in rolls. I am currently working as an i...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center