Baptisia, or 'Blue False Indigo' is, in our opinion an underappreciated plant. I hope that by the time you get through this blog post, you will have added this one to your plant wish list.
If you have a sunny garden, grow peonies and want to incorporate a native plant into your garden, you now have three reasons to grow Baptisia!
But wait, there's more! Let's talk about the many more benefits to grow Baptisia!
Baptisia australis is a native perennial that blooms bright bloom raceme- like flowers in mid June - July. It is an extremely tough plant that once established can tolerate drought so if you have a garden that is nowhere near a hose, this plant is a hot weather, droughty survivor! The native Baptisia . however does grow to in excess of 4 feet and can become quite wild and unruly, which could make it a challenge to manage in our smaller garden spaces. But, perennial plant breeders have developed newer varieties that are much more compact, have even better flower power with more colour choices. These new vareities of Baptisia are 'nativars', which means that they offer the benefits of native plants, highly adaptable to our growing zone, very hardy, and attract pollinators, yet address the needs of today's gardener, more blooms, different colours in a more compact package!
The 'Decadence' series from Proven Winners is one of our favourites ,and it now boasts 6 colours in the series
Baptisia Decadence 'Blueberry Sundae' -bright blue blooms, the classic
Baptisia Decadence 'Lemon Meringue' - stunning yellow saturate blooms, unique to the genus
Decadence 'Pink Truffles' - soft pink florets
Decadence'Cherries Jubilee' - medium cherry red flowers
Decadence' Sparkling Sapphires' - deep violet blue blooms
Decadence 'Vanilla Cream' -soft creamy blooms
Baptisia are notoriously slow growers, and we often sell them as a more mature plant. Potted Baptisia is usually 1.5- 2 years old when we sell them in a 2 gallon pot. We would group Baptisia with a whole host of perennials that Sleep, Creep, then LEAP, that is, they are very slow to grow in the first year, often just sprouting one stem with a few leaves, the second year they produce more stems and you may be lucky to see a small number of blooms, but in the third year established in the garden, more stems, means more blooms, so now you have something to build a fresh cut bouquet with Peonies!
So to revisit the peony lover, these 'queens' of the June garden are indeed spectacular in ' show ', but with more interest in home grown flowers and fresh cut bouquets ,Baptisia with the upright flower stalks contribute a height element to bouquets and they bloom at the same time as peonies.
Despite their bloom period not exceeding 4 weeks, they remain attractive and tidy in the garden all season. No need to cut them back as you would your peonies to tidy them, their statuesque 'vase' shape offers a unique architectural element, and their spent flowers become beatiful seed pods that attract birds.
We do carry Baptisia in the spring , but not necesssarily every colour. My suggestion is if you want to try it , don't wait to buy it , as our experience shows that this plant does not remain on our benches long. We promise that if you are patient with it , and give it the time it needs to fill out in your sunny garden, you will enjoy many years of this long lived perennial.