Several years ago I fell in love with Blue False Indigo (Baptisia australis) when I read a magazine article about it. It was just the sort of sunny-plot, mid-height perennial I was looking for. When I redesigned my front garden four years ago, I put some in.
Every year I watched it, to see if it would bloom. The foliage is similar to its cousin peas, and many times I was fooled into thinking the folding out leaves were flowers emerging.
But no, it has remained a non-descript bushy greenness though each growing season. One of my kids almost pulled it up, thinking it was an overgrown alfalfa.
I was beginning to think I had dreamt the images I had in my mind of what this plant was to become. I was this close to giving up on it, but thought I would email an expert at the Calgary Horticultural Society first. After all, maybe I was unknowingly undermining its success somehow:Hi,
I bought a couple of False Indigo (Baptisia Australis) four years ago.
Every year they come up nicely, seem happy and vigorous, but they have yet
to flower, and don’t seem to be gaining any size. Looking over the plant
tag I saved, it indicates a height of 3-4 feet and mine have never been
more than 18 inches-2 ft tall. They are in full sun (some late afternoon
shade), and well protected from wind.
I have never fertilized them, but spread sheep manure and home compost
twice a year.
Any ideas for improving their performance?
I got this lovely reply this morning:Hi, April,Thank you for your question!
Baptisia australis is extremely slow growing. It makes up for this by the
fact that it can live several decades if undisturbed. (It has a long tap
root that makes transplanting and division difficult to do without harming
the plant). It rarely blooms until 2 or 3 years after planting, and it
doesn’t typically reach its mature height until it is at least 3 years
old. It sounds as if you’re doing all the right cultural things and that
you’ve planted it in the perfect spot. If it is happy and healthy there,
then just wait it out – I’m sure you’ll be rewarded soon! They are
definitely beautiful plants!
I hope this helps! Happy gardening!
The irony is, I went to check on my Baptisia just this morning, and look what I found:
See those little guys, almost looking like stalks of grain? Never seen those before. I think we’re in for some flowers this year!