The Q&A Archives: Black patches on Leaves of Rudibeckia

Question: My black eyed susan plants came up wonderfully last summer after being planted last spring. Talk about flowers! I over-wintered them in a bed with leaves and about 6 inches of straw (the mulch was moldy). I removed the mulch to allow the crocus and other bulbs to come up. I noticed that the black eyed susan plants - Goldstrum variety - have black patches on their tiny new leaves. Do I need to spray for any disease or is this usual for new leaves just revealed? I have Robinsons' Mix perennial chrysanthemums in the same bed and they have bright green little leaves with no black patches. None of the bulb plants seem to be affected. I also have salvias in the same bed and they seem fine too.

Answer: I think once the sun hits the leaves, they'll grow just fine. It could be that some soft rot hit during the see-saw winter weather that hit your region over the winter. The best protection against fungal diseases is free air circulation, so removal of the mulch should help. If it seems that the patches are spreading or getting larger, then you should try a fungicide. Gardens Alive (; ph# 812/537-8650) has a new product called Soap Sheild that should stop the fungus. Good luck!

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