Cedar Valley Arboretum & Botanic Gardens

Purple Power

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I have purple on the brain this afternoon.  Since moving to the Cedar Valley in June 2008, I have learned to embrace UNI Panther athletics.  This was no overnight transformation as an Iowa State graduate and longtime fan!  But with the men’s basketball current winning streak, it’s fun to wear purple and gold.

A few of my favorite purple annual flowers are (from left to right) hollyhocks (Alcea), angelonia (Angelonia) and morning glories (Ipomoea).

But my all-time favorite purple flower is the perennial false indigo (Baptisia) with its beautiful structure and multiple season charm.  In the spring, bright green shoots pop up from the ground looking similar to asparagus.  The lupine-like flowers bloom late spring amongst delicate, light green foliage.  Once the flowers fade, they give away to dark brown seed pods that will stand on the plant through the rest of the season.

My favorite variety is Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke,’ a hybrid of Baptisia australis and Baptisia alba.  The foliage is more of a gray-green with almost charcoal stems.

False indigo can be difficult to establish because of its large taproot and will often take three years to fully acclimate.  But once established, it is very drought tolerant and can handle poor soils.  After blooming, plants may spread out and might benefit from staking.   False indigo can also be pruned to create more compact, full plants.

See you in the gardens.

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Written by cedarvalleyarboretum

February 5, 2010 at 10:50 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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