Wednesday, January 13, 2010

2010 Perennial Plant of the Year

This week in my column I wrote about the perennial plant of the year which I felt should be shared here as well.  The flowers can be appreciated better when seen in colour too.
The 2010 perennial plant of the year is a native species with indigo blue flowers in May to June that is found growing in prairies, meadows, along stream banks and in open woods. Baptisia australis which many know as blue wild indigo is related to lupines as they both have spikes of pea-like flowers. The long green seed pods ripen to black making them desirable for floral arrangements.
Baptisia is a long lived perennial that once established has a long tap root that enables it to be drought tolerant. Slow to start, it will form a clump 90-120 cm tall and shouldn’t need dividing for 10 years or more. Preferring a lean soil in full sun, light shade is tolerated and good drainage is required.
After flowering, the plant can be cut back by one third and shaped into a rounded shrub form that will hold up well for the rest of the season. If pruning is not desired and the plant needs staking, a peony ring works well.
All the books say that baptisia doesn’t transplant well because of the deep roots but even an experienced gardener can find themselves with the dilemma of having to move an established one. My plant was being overgrown by an upright juniper and I decided to finally move it last year. The baptisia was cut back and I dug down deep to get as many roots as possible, transplanted it and hoped for the best. It drooped a lot for the first few weeks and then seemed to realize the new location wasn’t so bad after all. By fall I felt the transplant had taken and look forward to the pretty flowers this year that attract many butterflies.


  1. ooo the blue flowers! Glad your's decided it didn't mind the move.
    Thanks so much for the visit!!

  2. this is my favorite plant of all time.....well deserved recognition. i had this in my may wedding bouquet 10 yrs ago...

    i have had pretty good luck in moving it. i also get a fair amt of seedlings from it too. love that about it!

  3. I grow tons of this! This year I'm starting lots more from seed. I love the true blue color...

  4. Hah! I see we are on the same page today. I did an article for my Hort newsletter on the Baptisia this morning. Valerie


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