Saturday, June 2, 2012

Nebraska Wildflowers Day 1 -- Baptisia

This is Nebraska wildflower week. Each day I'll feature a native wildflower that grows well for me in my fickle clay AND brings in butterflies. Hopefully, you'll find something you've never seen before.

To end the week, on Saturday, June 9 at 10am, I'll be giving a presentation on Nebraska wildflowers at Finke Gardens and Nursery. And don't forget, I do run a native prairie garden coaching business. Ahem.

Also, check out Bob Henrickson's (NE Statewide Arboretum) fantastic advice on planting a mini prairie in your landscape.


Baptisia australis is the species name of a shrub-forming perennial legume. It gets long tap roots so hates being moved, but this also makes it very drought tolerant. I have several cultivars, as well as the species, up on a small incline competing with red cedar roots in clay soil--and the baptisia thrive. I also have many butterfly eggs dotting the leaves right now, but I'm not sure which species of butterfly it is, however, someone sure likes it as a host plant. Maybe sulphurs?

Carolina Moonlight
The flowers bloom in May--this year early May, but usually mid to late May. It's a favorite of early bumblebees, and I had 10 queens on a baptisia at once this May. A key nectar source as bees establish nests, and then as a host plant for butterflies like several kinds of sulphurs. The seed pods turn black in fall and make lovely baby rattles, or just provide winter interest. Baptisia likes sun but can take some shade, but you'll likely sacrifice some blooms. 3' tall and wide.

Moonlight on right, Twilight under bald cypress on left
Twilight Prairie Blues


Les said...

I give this a thumbs up for us too. It thrives in our heat and humidity.

Debra, Gardens Inspired said...

I love this in our gardens, too. And you're right about those bumblers. We had so many on each plant this year I couldn't count them. I have Indigo planted in many places on our property; I will need to try the white one - it's gorgeous, too! ~Debra

Donna@Gardens Eye View said...

One of my favs that I will also be highlighting later this month...the bees have been nonstop and I will have to check for butterfly eggs...this is a must have that I love moving all over the garden...I currently have several volunteers that may be planted throughout the garden as well.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Les--Yes, it loves it muggy!
Debra--It was a very good bumble spring. I have an immature white one, it may bloom next year finally.
Donna--I do think people are impatient with it, since it takes a few years to bloom, but worth it.