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Why Aren’t You Growing More Baptisias?

It’s time to give these tough, long-blooming natives a second look

Fine Gardening – Issue 175

Years ago, I decided to plant a baptisia in my small garden. I was willing to give up precious space to such a large plant in expectation of the vibrant blue spires to come. I nurtured it through its first gawky years only to discover my reward was the saddest blue flowers ever seen. I shouldn’t have been surprised. At that time, many baptisias were commonly grown from seed, which means that flower color, habit quality, and size would, sadly, vary widely from plant to plant.

Baptisias are true American beauties—growing wild and widely throughout much of the United States. I think it’s safe to say that many of the 20-odd wild species are uncommon in gardens, but an interest in these long-lived, stalwart plants has led to a wealth of new hybrid cultivars. Just 10 years ago, ‘Purple Smoke’ and ‘Carolina Moonlight’ were the only ones. Today, thanks to…

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