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Extension > Yard and Garden News > Black Leaves on Black Eyed Susan

Black Leaves on Black Eyed Susan

Michelle Grabowksi, UMN Extension Educator

J. Beckerman

Photo 1: Septoria Leaf Spot on Rudbeckia

This time of year the beautiful display of yellow flowers put on by Black Eyed Susan plants (Rudbeckia sp.) is often ruined by the plant's leaves turning partly or completely black. The leaf discoloration is caused by the fungal pathogen Septoria rudbeckiae. This pathogen causes dark brown to black leaf spots much earlier in the season. The disease often begins on the lower leaves of the plant and may go unnoticed. As the season progresses, so does the disease. By September, plants may not have a single green leaf remaining. Septoria rudbeckiae will survive in plant debris, so it is best to remove infected stems and leaves at the end of the season. These should be discarded in a backyard compost that gets hot or at a municipal composting site. Next year, thin plants and remove volunteer seedlings to provide good air movement around plants. Water with drip irrigation or early in the day so leaves dry quickly in the sun. Look for leaf spots early in the season and pinch off infected leaves. Never remove more than 1/3rd of a plants foliage. For more information read Diseases of Rudbeckia.
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