Calendar

October 2017
S M T W T F S
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031EC

False blue indigo 2010 Perennial Plant of the Year

False indigo’s long-lasting blue spikes and easy to grow nature earns the native plant the 2010 Perennial Plant of the Year. Photo courtesy wildflower.org

False indigo’s long-lasting blue spikes and easy to grow nature earns the native plant the 2010 Perennial Plant of the Year. Photo courtesy wildflower.org

False blue indigo, a striking native plant, has been named the 2010 Perennial Plant of the Year by the Perennial Plant Association.

This garden worthy plant has tall spikes of deep blue, lupine like flowers in late spring and early summer.

Baptisia grows wild in the Eastern United States and was used by Native Americans as a blue dye, which gives false indigo its common name. Natural indigo (Indigofera) comes primarily from Asia and other tropical regions.

Baptisia’s oval, blue-green leaves provide the perfect backdrop for later blooming perennials, such as coneflower (Echinacea), black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) and aster (Symphyotrichum). Its large charcoal-colored, pea like seed pods also add interest to the summer garden or they can be cut for indoor everlasting arrangements.

In the last few years, plant breeders have introduced several new baptisia hybrids, many of which are widely available in garden centers as well as online or mail order retailers.

Although it tolerates light shade, baptisia does best in full sun and average soil. It gets 3- to 4-feet tall and wide, so plant in the back or the middle of the border. Cutting the flowers for bouquets encourages secondary branching and more blooms. Cut back to the ground in fall or early spring.

Baptisia can be grown from seed or as young transplants. Once established, baptisia forms an extensive root system, which makes it very difficult to move.

'Twilite' baptisia is one of the new Prairieblues series from Chicagoland Grows. Photo courtesy www.chicagolandgrows.org

'Twilite' baptisia is one of the new Prairieblues series from Chicagoland Grows. Photo courtesy www.chicagolandgrows.org

The Prairieblues series developed by the Chicago Botanic Garden and Chicagoland Grows does well throughout most of North America. These include:

  • ‘Twilite’ has burgundy flowers with lemon yellow highlights.
  • ‘Starlite’ has pale blue flowers with a white base.
  • ‘Solar Flare’ has yellow flowers that turn orange as they age.
  • ‘Midnite’ has deep blue-violet flowers.

Two introduced by the North Carolina Botanical Garden are also quite nice:

  • North Carolina Botanical Garden introduced 'Carolina Moonlight,' a yellow flowering baptisia. Photo courtesy North Carolina Botanical Garden

    North Carolina Botanical Garden introduced 'Carolina Moonlight,' a yellow flowering baptisia. Photo courtesy North Carolina Botanical Garden

    ‘Carolina  Moonlight’ has creamy yellow flowers.

  • ‘Purple Smoke’ has smoky lavender flowers.

Fall good time to move plants out of place

Tall coreopsis. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Tall coreopsis. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

We often hear about right plant right place when selecting and planting trees and shrubs. The phrase reminds us to take into account the mature size of a plant and how it will fit in the space we have along with its horticultural needs, such as sun or shade. The phrase applies to perennials and annuals, too.

read more»

Shade-brightening Japanese forest grass garners top perennial award

Fall color — ‘Aureola’ Japanese forest grass late-season hue blends nicely with the autumn color of a foam flower (Tiarella) ‘Crow Feather.’ © Photo courtesy Walters Gardens

Fall color — ‘Aureola’ Japanese forest grass' late-season hue blends nicely with the autumn color of a foam flower (Tiarella) ‘Crow Feather.’ © Photo courtesy Walters Gardens

A lovely ornamental grass has been named the 2009 Perennial Plant of the Year.

‘Aureola’ is a golden Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra), a perfect plant for softening the front edge of a border, working as a ground cover or adding a bright spot in the perennial bed. It also can be used as a container plant for summer color and transplanted to the ground in fall, if desired.

Hakonechloa macra is native to Honshu Island, Japan. Hakon refers to the Japanese region and chloa is the Greek word for grass, according to the Perennial Plant Association , a not-for-profit organization made up of educators, plant breeders, growers and others. Each year members make nominations and vote on their favorite perennial. Previous popular winners include ‘Mainacht’ or May Night salvia, ‘David’ phlox and ‘Husker Red’ penstemon.

read more»

Long-blooming perennials key to colorful gardens

Flower on — ‘Mainacht’ or May Night salvia blooms throughout the summer in a sunny garden. (Photo courtesy Bailey Nurseries )

Flower on — ‘Mainacht’ or May Night salvia blooms throughout the summer in a sunny garden. (Photo courtesy Bailey Nurseries )

We hear all the time about planning the perennial garden so that something is in bloom all the time. When Perennials Bloom by Tomasz Anisko (2008, Timber Press, $59.95) removes any guesswork. Anisko, a native of Poland, is the curator of plants at Longwood Gardens near Philadelphia.

With scientific research and record keeping, Anisko has chronicled the flowering time of 450 herbaceous perennials through several seasons. The result is a fairly precise range of when specific plants bloom and their peak times. The book breaks down the blooms by cultivars, too.

read more»