Baptisia Australis, otherwise known as False Blue Indigo, has been named Perennial Plant of the Year for 2010. This award is much deserved. Baptisia is one of the easiest plants of all to grow, and it's a native!
The blue-gray foliage of Baptisia Australis is lovely all season, but this plant has many wonderful features. Leaves are trifoliate, reminding me of clover. The plant is upright, for the most part, and doesn't require staking unless it's getting too much shade. Since Baptisia australis grows up to four feet tall, plant it behind shorter perennials.
Blue violet pea-like blooms stand well above the foliage, providing a tall backdrop for lower growing plants. The bloom stems can be up to 12 inches tall, so Baptisia is an excellent cut flower. Blooms last up to a month on the plant, but are also long-lasting in a vase where they can be enjoyed up close.
Once blooms are spent, do not deadhead this plant or you'll miss the next show. By late summer, blooms have given way to showy black pods resembling peas. The black pods hanging on strong stems are lovely and make attractive additions to floral arrangements and wreaths for late summer. In addition, these pods are full of viable seeds which you can use to make more of these lovely plants for your garden and for your friends.
This plant grows best with full sun and well-drained soil. Once established, Baptisia is very drought tolerant.
This Perennial Plant of the Year can be grown just about anywhere with its broad range of growing zones, since it's hardy anywhere in USDA Zones 3-9.
For more on this plant, visit Shady Gardens Nursery.