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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.

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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.

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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!

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Tuesday - September 04, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: General Botany, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Petals on Black eyed Susans not developing from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I just read Barbara Medfords response to undeveloped petals on perennial black eyed susans and was disappointed not to find a better explanation. I have had the exact same thing happen to mine, and I know insects, and watering were not the problem. The petalshmandsc brow just were not developing. Perhaps soil?? My plants were in Spicewood TX, near Pedernales river cliff.

ANSWER:

We think this is the previous answer to which you are referring.  That question was from Tennessee and was answered last year. We are sorry you were disappointed, but any time we give you an answer, we try to make sure that it is all we know and all we can find out from research. Could it be soil? That question was addressed in the previous question, also.

We always check to make sure a plant is native to the area in which it is being grown, because that is about the only way we have of knowing that it is growing in the right soils. This USDA Plant Profile Map shows that it is native to Llano and Mason counties, but not Travis; however, we don't think that is a significant factor.

Sometimes we just have to say we don't have a clue. Mr. Smarty Plants tries to find an answer to every question we get, but we simply can't outsmart Nature. Sometimes, weird things happen, and if we could solve every one of those questions we would be writing books and making a whole lot of money instead of working as volunteers. Obviously, the seeds from your plants are developing and doing their job, the pollinators are doing their job, the soil is acceptable, and that's about all we can tell you.

Please follow this plant link Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherrima (Blackeyed susan) to our webpage on this plant and see if anything leaps out at you. Also, as we always do, you can scroll down that webpage to the Additional Resources, and click on the Google link to the plant, and see if you can find any research that we could not.

Just in case we had missed something, we took our own advice and went hunting on the Internet again. We found this article from Colorado State University Flower Management in a Dry Climate, on which Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherrima (Blackeyed susan) is listed as a dry climate annual, but we still found no mention of deformed or missing petals.

 

From the Image Gallery


Black-eyed susan
Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherrima

Black-eyed susan
Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherrima

Black-eyed susan
Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherrima

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