About Good Scents

The cut flower business ended in 2011 but I continue to post other items about gardening.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Baptisia australis (False Indigo)

Baptisia australis is just coming into bloom now, providing welcome blue spikes of color for bouquets. Baptisia are slow to establish and can get really large. The base of a mature plant can be a foot or more across and the foliage will be 4 feet tall and spread to 4 or 5 feet. Like most slow growing perennials (peonies, balloon flowers, gas plants), baptisias do not move well and need to be sited carefully. You also have to be patient and live with a huge gap in your perennial border until the plant catches up with the spot you've reserved for it. The one pictured below will actually get broader once the flowers fade and the foliage matures.

Baptisia flowers are bluish purple and appear on spikes that are 12-18 inches long. They are pea relatives and this shows in the individual flowers and the foliage. After flowering, the plants form pods on the spike which will turn black and brittle as they ripen. These pods are quite attractive and can also cut for bouquets. The seeds rattle inside the pods which is kind of fun.

I have never tried to start this plant from seed although they do self seed sometimes around mature plants. They are not difficult to find but are not available as small starter plants. They can probably be found at the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market or mail ordered from a place like Bluestone Perennials.

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