Baptisia blooms down this year?

ginny12June 6, 2010

For the first time ever, my dozen or so baptisias put out very few flowers this year. They are one of my true reliable perennials. On the Perennials Forum, several others have noticed the same thing. How are your baptisias doing this year, assuming you've had them a few years so they are settled in? Many flowers?

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I haven't had mine for long enough to be able to compare, but we had a late frost after our very early warm weather, and the tops of many perennials (along with early leaves of shrubs and trees) got nipped. I did wonder if that had reduced my Baptisia blooms, but this is only the second or third growing season for any of my Baptisias (australis and 'Purple Smoke'.) I did notice that they had fewer blooms than my yellow Thermopsis, a relative of Baptisia.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2010 at 8:49PM
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I have two of the basic purple that seemed perfectly normal. One of my favorite perennials, so I would have definitely noticed a change. I'd be interested in hearing any theories on why their would be fewer blooms.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2010 at 8:50PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Mine bloomed, but not only did I think it didn't bloom as profusely, but the flopping was curious. It flopped down to the ground even with a ring which it's never done before. I wondered if there was less sun than usual, but really I had been noticing this year we had more sunny days then last year. So it is a mystery.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 6:41AM
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This is my first year with mine blooming - it was put in last year after flowering, so i don't have anything to compare it to - but I thought it bloomed quite nicely. It flowered more than I expected, actually.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 7:50AM
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carol6ma_7ari(zones 6 & 7a)

No problems with mine, RI coast. In fact, it produced a second one.


    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 9:09AM
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ellen_s(z5 centralMA)

I admire a large baptisia in downtown Spencer every June - I drove past it the other day and it was its typical glorious splendiforous self, full of blue flowers!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 9:21AM
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Mine's blooming normally, actually just starting - but we have a much later warm-up than you mainlanders, and the weird warm and cold snaps are somewhat less here on the Cape.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 12:28PM
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I guess there's no widespread phenomenon happening. Just so odd. Thanks for the reports.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 9:38AM
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capecodder(z6 MA)

Only one bloom on my plant.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 4:37PM
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arbo_retum(z5 ,WinchstrMA)

my two were definitely down in bloom quantity.
maybe too wet back in march?

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 7:45PM
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terrene(5b MA)

I have 2 Twilight Prairie Blues and 1 Carolina Moonlight. This was their 3rd season in the garden and they are much bigger and had many more blooms than last year. The Carolina Moonlight appears to be a significantly less vigorous cultivar though.

I've also got 3 plants started from seed in 2008 (B. australis and B. leucantha), but they haven't grown up enough to bloom yet. :)

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 8:10PM
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Mine are at the top of a wall, in poor soil, so if a wet March is to blame that might explain why plants in some locales are not suffering.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 9:38PM
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My friend two towns over (northern Litchfield County CT)JUST asked me this very question! Her old dependable has few blooms, but mine is gorgeous and full. This is a very interesting question -- we don't seem to have any consistency in responses.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 11:50AM
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I moved mine in April (I know, I know....) and it still bloomed beautifully. It is 3 or 4 years old.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 12:26PM
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I have 3 beds of Baptisia A. the original bed was transplanted over 40 years ago from my Mother's bed. Then about 10 years ago I transplanted a section to make a new bed in the Pocono Moutains at our summer cottage. All beds were transplanted successfully. The original bed became about 8 feet long and always at least 4' high and 4' wide and thick. About 6 years ago suddenly something started to strip the green pods from the upright flower stems. I have been unable to identify the culprit. We have rabbits, chipmunks, birds and squirrels as prime suspects. This year for the first time, I have no blooms at all in the primary bed, and the foliage is very sparse. So sad because it was a remarkable sight in it's prime!

Here is a link that might be useful: RE: Baptisia blooms down this year?

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 7:12AM
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runktrun(z7a MA)

You might look for signs of critter tunneling in and around your bed which may account for weakend plants and lack of bloom or your plants may have reached their twilight years!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 7:36AM
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I'm hoping all you Baptisia fans can help me solve this mystery. I have a new plant I just put in this year, in an area around many other plants. We went for things that were advertised to be deer resistant, since deer are a big problem here. The Baptisia has been doing very well, but then I noticed one morning a stalk had been cut/chewed off about 6-8" above the ground; the rest of the stalk was laying on the ground. Since then, the same thing has happened several times. Last night it was two stalks. Is this rabbits, or is there something else I'm fighting? Why would they cut the stalks if the leaves are poisonous? We have had a lot of thunderstorms this year - could it be that stalks are breaking from the wind? If so, would it help to cut them back? Help!

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 6:57PM
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Baptisia australis/false indigo is one of the most carefree perennials I grow--doesn't require fertilizer, supplemental water, or any other attention in my experience. It's one of those 'stand back and let it do its thing' plants. I've never felt the need to prune or trim back any of my five mature plants. They're simply consistently good performers year after year.

That said, the two clumps growing on the north and west sides of my property have sent up less than 12" of new growth this year. Since they have sent up at least a little new growth I have fingers crossed I haven't totally lost them & they'll recover in subsequent seasons. I'm guessing vole damage is likely the root cause but can't say for certain. The three remaining plants growing on the south side of my garden were just as full & lush as in prior years.

Baptisia has a taproot and doesn't like to be moved but other than that, it's been my experience they're virtually maintenance-free.

BTW - the deer have fed on other things in my garden beds but never the false indigo.

I've never had any B. australis stalks break due to high winds, nor have I ever cut them back. I have given them a bit of support with peony rings.

Sorry I don't have answers for you but thought my experience might be helpful in some way.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 10:01PM
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ctlady_gw(z6 CT)

I'm envious of all of you ... my Baptisia australis simply vanished on me this year. It was big and healthy last year, bloomed heavily... and this year, gone. Not a sign of it this spring. This is the second time I have lost one, in the middle of a butterfly garden/perennial bed, surrounded by plants like garden phlox, Joe Pye, echinacea... the usual suspects. What would cause the baptisia to go belly up on me?? I love it, but am afraid to invest in any more if I can't keep them going. Is there something I should be doing (I think of them as pretty care-free??) -- or more importantly, something I should NOT be doing? They are (were) in full sun. Would love advice...

    Bookmark   July 14, 2013 at 8:10PM
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I think my baptisia problems in the past have been voles eating the roots--and maybe chipmunks? About 2000, I lost most of my large baptisias but they slowly came back. This year was a spectacular show and they are fully back.

I had a pest control man come repeatedly to my garden over three years and set traps. I have also used mole-tox or some such product. These have knocked down the population and most of my perennials have returned, including the baptisias, Japanese iris, peonies etc.

Of course, there is always next year.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2013 at 10:42PM
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