Indian Summer Flopped

gardener-in-wi(5 SEWi)March 30, 2014

My brown eyed susans, Indian Summer, have been in my garden for 4 years. Last year, they just went crazy and got huge. I love these huge flowers, they are so showy, but they flopped over. I tried staking them, but that was unsuccessful. Part of them also died out. I'm wondering if I should pinch them back this year. Also thought about using a peony hoop. Does anyone have any ideas on how to get them to perform better this year?

Sorry the photo is sideways, it came from my phone.


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That's too bad...wonder if they are short on sun.

Those are beautiful so I can feel your pain!

Hope someone else will chime in with their recommendations.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 8:41PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

I'm wondering if I should pinch them back this year.

==>>>> you havent previously ????

they should probably be cut back to the best lowest bud on each stalk.. each spring ... down around 3 to 5 inches

also ... i tend to find.. things that flop .. are usually over fertilized ... growing so abundantly.. that they overcome the genetic ability to hold themselves up ... and that would include too good of amended soil ...

soooo.. dont feed them ...

i see BESuzy in the ditches ... not this foo foo one.. but the ditch tells me... they have little need for TLC ... so dont give it to them ...

so what if they are a foot smaller... they wont flop ...

if you want cutting back ideas.. give us a pic of the dormant plant.. rather than last year

as to caging and staking.. what ever floats your boat ... i tend to rather see them flopped than look at man-made structures in the bed ... but that is your choice ...


    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 7:29AM
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gardener-in-wi(5 SEWi)

Thanks for the response Ken and Ginnear. I haven't pinched them back in previous years because they never flopped over like this. I will give that a try. These aren't over fertilized, they are in my hard clay soil that never is amended. I'm a lazy gardener:) This area also gets pl enty of sun, at least 6-7 hours.

Hopefully pinching back will work, I'm guessing it will set back the bloom time a bit?


    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 8:15AM
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Did you have more than usual rain last year? Every once in a while we get a long period of wet in late spring causing some plants to put on taller & weaker growth then they flop when they bloom. If that was the case, I wouldn't mess with pinching back especially this early.

The fact that some died out sounds like root rot.

Pinching back usually results in a thicker plant with more blooms but sometimes the blooms are smaller. Depends on the plant. I'd only do that when the plants are up & running, taking off the top 1/3 or so about midway to bloom time if they look like they are getting leggy. Pinch back at a node.

This post was edited by TexasRanger10 on Mon, Mar 31, 14 at 14:52

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 2:51PM
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gardener-in-wi(5 SEWi)

I can't remember any excessive rain last spring, although I can barely remember what the weather was like last month, let alone last year:) We did put in a new drip irrigation system and it's possible we were watering too much in the summer months. I'll have to keep that in mind this year, thanks for the tip TR.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 6:37PM
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Does anyone have any ideas on how to get them to perform better this year?

According to my perennial "bible:" "Most rudbeckias hail from dry meadows and do best in similar conditions--well-drained, dry, not too overly rich soil in full sun." That suggests that in some years your clay soil may retain more moisture than suits them, either from rain or your irrigation system.

If you enjoy them so much, you may just have to put up with them when seasonal conditions (i.e., excess rain) don't favor their growth habit. Pinching or cutting back involves more effort than I'm willing to expend--if it's perennial in my garden beds, I pretty much take myself out of the equation whenever possible.

For many years my attitude toward rudbeckias has been plant 'em, enjoy 'em, neglect 'em. It's been pretty successful since 2006. Experience has taught me not to expect EVERY perennial to perform well every season, especially when growing conditions don't suit their needs, weather being so fickle and all. Some years things do well; some years they don't.

Case in point: last year my Hellebore/Lenten rose was covered in dozens of buds & bloomed heavily; this year it has fewer than a half dozen blooms. Still, it's tough and I'll enjoy what blooms it has while hoping for more next year.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 8:04PM
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