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FutureStarrBaptisia False Indigo
As stated above, there are a lot of choices for color in the Baptisia plant. The straight species of Baptisia is very tall, but there is a dwarf version, it is Baptisia australis var. minor which grows up to 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide. There are a lot of different species and variety choices of Baptisia minor making it very easy to find the color, or selection of colors, to fit your landscape. There is a Decadence Series that was developed with many different color choices including a brown from ‘Dutch Chocolate’, a red and yellow mixed flower from ‘Cherries Jubilee’, and a creamy white of ‘Vanilla Cream’. Baptisia lactea is a good selection for white flowers. Baptisia, Baptisia australis, is also called Blue False Indigo. This is a large perennial that grows up to 4 feet tall and wide. It blooms on stalks with pea-like blue, white, or yellow flowers. However, the blue is often seen more as a purple color. The leaves are arranged alternately on the stems and are compound with 3 oblong leaflets per leaf. The foliage of Baptisia is a deep green to gray-green color. Following the flowers, the seed pods on Baptisia develop, which are very interesting. The seeds are enveloped in a puffy bean-like pod that develops as a green color and turn a black color in the fall when they mature. The seeds are enclosed freely in the pod allowing it to make a rattle-like sound when shaken. The seed pods can be left through the winter months for winter interest to your landscape.Baptisia, also known as wild indigo or false indigo, is a fantastic group of plants that deserves greater garden use. Not only does the floral display rival the beauty of any other spring bloom, but the plants are deer-resistant and require almost no maintenance. Despite these accolades, false indigo and its cultivars are still not widely popular. This undeserved obscurity, along with a multitude of new cultivar releases, prompted Mt. Cuba Center to take a close look at false indigo. From 2012-2015, 46 selections, including representatives from 11 different species, were evaluated in order to determine which Baptisia selections perform best in the mid-Atlantic region. Overall, the group performed exceptionally well and ten cultivars were selected as top performers: B. sphaerocarpa ‘Screamin’ Yellow’, B. ‘Lemon Meringue’, B. ‘Ivory Towers’, B. ‘Blue Towers’, B. ‘Purple Smoke’, B. ‘Cherries Jubilee’, B. ‘Sunny Morning’, B. ‘Blueberry Sundae’, B. ‘Dutch Chocolate’, and B. ‘Creme de Menthe’. These are selections with gorgeous, bountiful floral displays, attractive and sturdy foliage, and moderately sized habits that make them well-suited for the average home garden.
These hybrid plants show good hybrid vigor, uniform growth and were selected for good floral display. ‘Dutch Chocolate’ Baptisia is one of the Decadence® Series of false indigos developed by Hans Hansen who is responsible for new plant development for Walters Gardens in Zeeland, Michigan, one of the nation’s largest growers of perennial garden plants. ‘Dutch Chocolate’ was released in 2011through the Proven Winners marketing group and has been planted across the nation. The 10 plants planted at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks in Fayetteville can only be described as stunning, especially after only five years in the ground, even though I’m personally not fond of the brownish hue of the flowers that seems to get lost in the garden. Baptisia australis is an herbaceous perennial that reproduces both sexually and asexually by means of its spreading rhizomes. The plant is erect and emerges from the rhizomatic network. The roots themselves are branched and deep, which helps the plant withstand periods of drought. When dug up they are woody and black in colour and show tubercles, wart-like projections found on the roots. The plant branches extensively about halfway up. The stems are stour and glabrous, or hairless. Broken stems secrete a sap that turns dark blue on contact with the air.If you are looking for a plant that is both beautiful AND indestructible for your spring landscape, consider investing in Baptisia australis. But first, a little background: The name, in case you’re interested, is derived from the ancient Greek word bapto, meaning “to dip” or “immerse.” The specific name australis comes from the Latin word for “southern.” Early settlers in this country made blue dye from this plant, using it as a substitute for the true indigo plant (Indigofera tinctoria), which is from India. Thus, the plant became known as blue false indigo. It is native to the eastern and mid-western areas of the United States and is known by more than a half dozen common names. Some people know it as wild indigo, rattleweed, or rattlebush. Others know it simply as Baptisia (pronounced bap-TIZ-ee-ah). Regardless of what it’s called, this plant has a lot to offer both in terms of floral display and foliage. (Source: piedmontmastergardeners.org)