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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - October 31, 2013

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Strappy leaves on rudbeckias from Houston
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My Rudbeckias keep sending up odd shoots with strappy leaves on them. Should these be cut off? What is their purpose?

ANSWER:

There are 20 members of the genus Rudbeckia and family Asteraceae (aster) native to North America, 14 of which are native to Texas. Three of those are found growing natively in and around Harris County. Since we don't know which ruckbeckia you have, we will choose Rudbeckia maxima (Giant coneflower) as a representive example. Below are three pictures from our Image Gallery. The first is of the bloom, the second of the rather oval-shaped leaf and the third of slightly more "strappy" looking, longer and more slender leaves. So, it could simply be a matter of your perception of what is a properly shaped leaf for this plant.

However, if you will follow the plant link above to our webpage on this plant, you will see this line:

"It should be cut back to the base after blooming to keep tidy and be planted in mass for best effect in landscapes."

Since the plant blooms from July to September, you might as well cut all the stems back, as we recommend for most perennials, and not worry about whether to cut back the ones that you feel might be abnormal.

 

From the Image Gallery


Giant coneflower
Rudbeckia maxima

Giant coneflower
Rudbeckia maxima

Giant coneflower
Rudbeckia maxima

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Problems with Fantex ash in Pahrump NV
April 08, 2010 - We planted a Fantex Ash tree over 3 years ago and it was thriving until recently. This year when the temperature began to warm up, it blossomed and then suddenly stopped growing. All the other trees...
view the full question and answer

Problems with wax myrtle in Austin
February 01, 2009 - I have been struggling with wax myrtles for the last year! We live in NW Austin, The plants start off great and then thin out, leaves go brown, and die. I then cut off the dead wood in the hope that t...
view the full question and answer

Ash tree dying back to lower sprouts in Kempner TX
June 19, 2010 - My 2 year old ash tree leaves dropped, appears dead, branches dying. New growth near base of tree. Do I cut upper trunk or remove entire tree? My other ash is doing well.
view the full question and answer

Need help with dying clumps of Cedar Sedge
June 24, 2015 - Carex planostachys. This grass was planted 2 years ago in light shade. It grew well until this year. Now some clumps are dying. Others in same area look fine. No insects can be detected. Why are...
view the full question and answer

Failure to bloom of Salvia greggii from San Antonio
June 29, 2011 - We bought Salvia greggii at the Wildflower Center Plant Sale three years ago and planted them in a well drained area. We cut them back early in the year as recommended at Go Native U classes. ...
view the full question and answer

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