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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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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

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