Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Suppport the plant database you love!

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

Sunday - June 28, 2009

From: Lancaster, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Planting, Seeds and Seeding, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Failure to come up of blackeyed susans in Lancaster PA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My blackeyed susans have been blooming for ten years. All of a sudden this year they didn't come up at all..why?

ANSWER:

We frequently get questions from gardeners similar to yours, in which a plant that has done well in a certain place suddenly begins to fail or, as in your case, simply disappears. We really have no way of knowing what has happened, about all we can do is give you questions to ask yourself to try to determine the cause and what to do about it. If those plants have done well in one spot for ten years, what about the environment could have changed in the last year? During the time they should have been coming up, was there unusual cold or rain of drought?

From our Native Plant Database, we learned this about:  Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherrima (blackeyed Susan):

"Long-lasting blooms; if happy, will behave as perennial. This plant is a biennial - it produces a rosette of leaves the first year and flowers in the second year."

In other words, every year some of your plants were just non-blooming rosettes, and some were blooming (and seeding) second-year plants.  The plant must have been reseeding itself all those years, and for some reason, last year, it did not. So, this problem may not be one that just happened, it may have to do with an environmental change of some sort in the last two years that has broken its growing, blooming and seeding cycle. If you still like the plants, and the the area around them has not changed sufficiently to discourage their growing (too much shade from other plants, for instance), you might try refreshing the bed, adding compost or other organic matter to loosen it up and improve the drainage, and then plant fresh seeds at the appropriate time for your climate.


Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherrima

Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherrima

Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherrima

Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherrima

 

 

 

More Compost and Mulch Questions

Chlorosis in sycamore in Kyle TX
August 04, 2011 - I'm trying to assist an elderly neighbor of mine with a plant issue. We have designated street trees in this community, our street being a Sycamore. The previous foreman out here called it a Mexica...
view the full question and answer

Removing St. Augustine, replacing with native plants
October 06, 2007 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants, always excited to talk to the Green Guru himself. I've recently purchased a house in South Austin and am interested in establishing a small, 500+ sq ft, prairie grass and wi...
view the full question and answer

Failure to bloom of non-native Althea in Oklahoma
August 17, 2008 - I have 2 Althea bushes that will not bloom. For the past 2 years, they become covered in buds, which eventually yellow, but never open. The buds are fully developed. This year the branches have starte...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native Cleyera and Red-tip photinia
June 01, 2008 - I planted a row of Cleyera in a bed that receives sunlight for about 3 hours during the middle of the day. My problem is that a number of the plants are dying. It begins with the leaves on one small...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting Mexican bonebract in Floresville, TX
November 12, 2008 - My kids and I finally identified a small plant that we found growing in our pasture. There was only one and it is lovely. It is the Mexican Bonebract. What I am interested in finding out is how to tra...
view the full question and answer

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