Cutting advice for Baptisia?

steve22802(7a VA)May 11, 2009

I've got two Baptisia australis plants that are about ready to cut but I've never used them as cut flowers before. Does anyone have any tips regarding what stage to cut them at and do they continue to open in the vase? Also what sort of vase life have you experienced?



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teresa_b(z6 MO)

Hi Steve,

According to Armitage, flowers are harvested when approximately 1/3 of the flowers on the inflorescence are open. Some growers cut when just a few flowers are open (not more than 1/3) but all the buds are colored. If left in the field too long, they will shatter. Another grower cuts two to three feet main stems and then obtains additional side branches which can be cut or left to develop seed pods.

Pods start green and eventually turn black. Not all inflorescences produce pods so do not expect the same yield of fruit as flowers. They can be harvested when they are green, but better contrast between leaves and fruit occurs if they are brown to black. Waiting too long is not recommended if the foliage is an important part of the "podded" stem as it turns black in the fall and declines rapidly.

Growers who cut into a hydrating solution report postharvest life of 7-10 days. Warm water in the bucket is especially recommended.


P.S. I love baptisia and one of mine has been blooming for two weeks. It is one of the hybrids.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2009 at 8:06PM
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steve22802(7a VA)

Thanks Teresa, I cut some yesterday and I'll be cutting more on Friday morning for the Saturday market. It's nice to learn that there are some other colors available. Do you have other varieties you would recommend? I actually raised my two plants from seed. They took about 3 years to flower and are the standard indigo color.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2009 at 9:52PM
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teresa_b(z6 MO)

I cannot recommend any whites or yellows; however, I found Tony Advent's article helpful although it is a little dated:

Also, I have Starlight Prairie Blues, described here: A selection from a controlled cross of Baptisia (australis x bracteata) conducted by Dr. Jim Ault at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, Illinois. A medium-sized plant growing to only 3' tall, this selection boasts 24" flower stems bearing a profusion of bicolored blooms. Deep violet-lavender buds unfurl into lovely periwinkle-blue blooms with contrasting butter-cream keels. This is one of the first Baptisia to bloom in the trials at the Chicago Botanic Garden (USDA Zone 5). A vigorous, but well-maintained plant with somewhat arching branches, reminiscent of the B. bracteata parent. Zones 4-8.

Mine has been blooming for two weeks or more.

I also have the regular variety. I want a white and yellow, but am not finding Carolina Moonlight (creamy light yellow) available locally. My nursery only has "Screaming Yellow." I still have not figured out which white variety to select.

Some of the hybrids have been reported to have 50 flowering spikes on one plant.


    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 6:12PM
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steve22802(7a VA)

Starlight Prairie Blues does sound like a plant that I would like to have especially since it sounds like it would bloom earlier than the variety I have now, during the Perennial Garden Lull. And I agree that White and yellow varieties would be nice too! :) I can envision several of these Baptisia varieties combining very well together in a vase.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 8:07AM
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