Baptisia

wigardenerwannabe(Z5 WI)June 21, 2013

I love this plant....er almost bush. I have it in purple/blue and it does so well. However, I also have it in white, and it has never grown beyond the 3 stalks that come up with flowers. I have considered other kinds, but was wondering if there are others that over time become the size of the purple one. Does anyone have experience with the others that are yellow or other colors?
wig

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gardenweed_z6a

Sorry I can't widen your experience with baptisia but will vote in favor of growing them no matter what their bloom color. I've got a total of five plants which are (all but one) species Baptisia australis and will swear they are, hands down, one of my most carefree perennials.

It's been my experience they come up reliably every year, put on a show (that bees love) without needing any help from me. They thrive all season long while asking for nothing in terms of water except whatever rain falls as well as zero protection from pesticides or tending/pruning/fertilizing. They exuberantly return the following season to put on yet another performance.

My own plants go dormant in fall but require no pruning or cutting back--they simply die back and return once the weather warms up the following season.

What's not to like?

I haven't had success growing other cultivars from seed but since the species have been so healthy (+ my beds are pretty full), haven't really paid much attention to other colors.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 9:12PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

I grow regular Baptisia australis, 'Purple Smoke', 'Carolina Moonlight' and all are quite full. I've got new plants of B. alba and 'Solar Flare Prairie Blues' and so can't yet report on any of those.

In my garden, 'Purple Smoke' has a fairly similar growth pattern to regular B. australis though it has darker stems and more purple flowers. 'Carolina Moonlight is a bit smaller and a soothing buttery yellow. This year CM is smaller than most years (1/2 its usual size) due to winter vole damage, and the color is in reality a bit darker yellow than this.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 1:07PM
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wigardenerwannabe(Z5 WI)

I like the smaller size of the Caroline Moonlight and may have to search for that one. Thanks for providing the photo!

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 1:32PM
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trailrunnerbiker

My Carolina Moon is huge. As others have said she blooms reliably even with the ongoing drought we have had since 2007. She dies back on her own and then comes forth every Spring. You can't transplant or propagate them though. They are extremely deep rooted and very picky. I have planted numerous blue ones and only one has come up. It hasn't bloomed this year but I am hopeful for next year.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 11:34PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

Trailrunner's comment got me doing a bit of research to see how large the two plants are. The sources I checked all gave similar heights for B. australis and B. 'Carolina Moonlight', around 4'. In my garden CM has been about a foot shorter than my australis for their 4 seasons in my garden. They are growing just a few feet away from each other. But it sounds like my experience isn't the norm, so you'd best not grow CM hoping for a smaller size.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 9:57PM
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trovesoftrilliums(5)

I transplanted a 3 year old Baptisia australis this spring. I had a very hard time getting any kind of root ball and ended up basically yanking the poor plant's roots out of the ground. It sulked along for a couple of weeks but it now full and going strong. If you can get the roots out, they can successfully be transplanted.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 5:41PM
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felisar

Carolina Moonlight has been a very mediocre performer for me. I have 3 stems each on two plants that have been in the ground for at leas 4 years. In contrast the normal species is shrub size. I also don't get any seedheads on Carolina. Is she a sterile hybrid?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 3:04PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

I don't get seedpods on Carolina Moonlight or on Purple Smoke, though I do on the straight species B. australis.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 8:49PM
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jennypat Zone 3b NW MN(Zone 3b NW MN)

I had some species baptista which I collected seed from. The original plant died this past winter. BUT the seed I collected has now sprouted and is growing. My question is should I grow in pots for a couple years first, or should I go ahead and plant them out in the garden?

Jenny P

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 11:42PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

Jennypat,
Because of the deep tap root,they need to be in the ground ASAP to allow that root to dive deep and get established. I started some from seed this spring and when I planted out the tiny seedlings, I was amazed at the size and length of the central root compared to the little leaves. I'd get them in the ground now. Good luck.

Mrtha

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 7:20AM
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jennypat Zone 3b NW MN(Zone 3b NW MN)

Great! Now that means I actually have to decide WHERE to plant them! But before I can plant them I have to weed. It's amazing how weeds can take over when you go away for 2 weeks. I can hardly find the good stuff!

Thanks Mrtha

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 10:13AM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

Well this thread bums me out just a bit. My poor 'Purple Smoke' didn't make it back this year. Not that it was anything more than a weak sprig last year, but still...

So what do all of you think is the trick to growing Baptisia?
CMK

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 11:59AM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

In my situation, it's keeping out the voles . . . Last year my B. autralis was 4 feet high and had so many stems that were so large that it bent the double ring I put around it to prevent it smothering other nearby plants. Here it is early in the season.
From June 5, 2012

This year I barely have 3 little stems since the voles ate it, along with all kinds of other plants last winter. I will have to put a hardware cloth collar around it if it is going to survive, and I expect to do the same for other plants in this bed.

In general I have acid fine sandy loam soil with quite a bit of organic material added where I put planting beds. They end up being the classic moist, well-drained soil.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 3:39PM
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