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Baptisia Australis

(credit: Phran Novelli)

(credit: Phran Novelli)

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By Phran Novelli

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - A perennial that looks like a shrub all summer, then dies back to the ground for winter, our native Baptisia australis, or ‘False Indigo’ is one of my favorite plants.

Blooming in May in full sun, Baptisia‘s tall spikes of purpley-blue, white or yellow flowers up to 4 feet high stand up on their own – no staking required, and thank goodness because I can’t be bothered staking flowers.

After it blooms, Baptisia‘s lush rounded leaves fill out to a nice dense shrub size – 3 or 4 feet high or so. If it gets too big, you can just trim it once with your hedge clippers and you have a tidy ‘shrub’ all summer!

While Baptisia blooms make lovely cut flowers, if you leave them on the plant they transform into pretty pods that shake in a breeze to make music in your garden – and they’re great in fall arrangements. Or open a pod and sprinkle some seeds in a sunny spot where you’d like to have even more of this easy to grow, shrub-like native perennial, Baptisia australis.