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

Monday - July 05, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Seasonal Tasks, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Deadheading Mexican hat to produce more blooms in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have several Mexican hat (rudbeckia) plants growing wild in my yard. Would deadheading now give them a second flush of bloom in fall?

ANSWER:

It is almost always a good idea to deadhead flowers to encourage reblooming, whether they are perennial or annual. The Ratibida columnifera (upright prairie coneflower) is a perennial, but the best way to reproduce it is by seed. The first order of business for any organism is to reproduce itself; in the case of a plant it usually does so by producing seeds. The seeds are a result of the blooming of the plant, which blooms may attract propagators like bees or birds, and then the seeds are produced. Seed production follows along as the bloom begins to dry. If the  bloom is snipped off, usually down to the next twig joint, the plant's plans to reproduced itself will have been thwarted, and it will start up some more buds and blooms, at least until the season is over and/or the plant is exhausted. The blooming period of the Mexican hat is from May to October, with variations allowing for the difference in climate in the 36 states and 4 Canadian provinces in which this plant grows. If you have blooms on your plants now, in early July, you can begin snipping off the fading blooms before they set seed. Most plants do seem to have spurts, or what you refer to as a second flush, of blooms, so you may think you have lost any further blooming when you deadhead like that. However, in a matter of a week or so, new buds will begin to form, and you can go through the whole cycle again. Of course, if you want the plant to self-seed itself, you should leave some of the drying blooms alone, and either harvest the seed or let it fall in place, for more fresh plants next year. Please note that plants that you are encouraging to re-bloom and thus re-seed will need a little extra water as that is going on-you are basically asking the plant to go above and beyond its usual procedure.

Propagation

Propagation Material: Seeds
Description: Very easy to propagate from seed in spring or fall though a fall seeding is recommended. Seeds do not have to be treated but may benefit from a period of stratification. Plants from seed usually bloom the second year. Be sure the seed is in good contact with the soil by lightly raking it into loose topsoil. Seeding rate is two to four pounds per acre. There are approximately 1,230,000 seeds per pound.
Seed Collection: Seed is available commercially or can be collected in late summer. Collect seed from several plants to increase the spectrum of color. If possible, collect seed from plants with solid yellow ray petals to contrast with plants with reddish-brown ray plants.
Seed Treatment: Stratify at 40 degrees for 9 weeks.
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: Supplemental watering may be required if the winter and spring are unusually dry. Watering in summer often extends the flowering period. After flowering ceases, allow seed to completely mature (let cones become dry and brown) before mowing for reseeding or collecting seed to plant in another area.

 

From the Image Gallery


Mexican hat
Ratibida columnifera

Mexican hat
Ratibida columnifera

More Pruning Questions

Pruning non-native peach in Austin, TX.
June 18, 2015 - I planted two five gallon Texas Star peach trees last February but didn't have the nerve to prune them back to knee height. After having been convinced that this is a good thing to do, I'd like to k...
view the full question and answer

Pruning overgrown Texas sage
February 15, 2016 - Texas sage bushes have been left to grow like mini trees. Can we have trimmed back to get a 'full' bush? Bottom 2 feet of plant look so dead. Will it sprout again as a bush if trimmed back and do...
view the full question and answer

Pruning native Senna lindheimeriana
September 28, 2008 - I asked a question about pruning a Texas Senna tree. The Texas Senna I have is either a S. wislizenii or a S.lindheimeriana. It is a beautiful tree that I purchased at a Texas Native Plant nursery. ...
view the full question and answer

Pruning Agarita in the Winter
February 18, 2012 - I recently came upon a small grouping of agarita plants that had been somewhat choked by cedar. Having removed the cedar I noticed there were quite a lot of dead branches within the shrubs. Would Fe...
view the full question and answer

Northern Catalpa Tree Doing Poorly
July 02, 2014 - One of our Northern Catalpa trees appears to be dying. It is about 28 feet tall and this year only about 1/3 of it is producing leaves. It is next to our largest Catalpa tree (about 65 feet tall and a...
view the full question and answer

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