Blue False Indigo is Perennial Plant of the Year

The Perennial Plant Association has selected Blue False Indigo (Babtisia australis) as their Perennial Plant of the Year.

This is a  hardy perennial and grows 3-4 feet tall with an upright habit. Indigo makes a nice background plant to anchor the back of the border. It reaches full height in three years. The plant expands to a diameter of 4 feet with shrub-like habits.  For best results plant in full sun, but it will grow in shade with support.

Once it gets established it is drought tolerant. Indigo has a long tap root and needs a permanent location. Some clumps grow for 20 years or longer.

It flowers in the spring for 3-4 weeks followed by seed pods that turn black, when ripe. 

The Perennial Plant of the Year program helps consumers select plants that perennial industry experts find to be outstanding and easily grown. The homeowners can have great confidence that these plants will grow well in the garden. This program first started in 1990. Membership in the PPA includes grower, retailers, educators, garden writers and members of landscape related industries.


Q: My evergreens are covered with snow and ice. Should I knock off the snow so the branches don't break?

A: Evergreen boughs can break under the weight of heavy snow and ice, but use caution. There is a right way and a wrong way to do that job.  Don't brush the snow in a downward motion!  Those branches may be close to breaking from the snow and removing the snow with a downward motion might be all it takes.  Always remove snow from boughs in an upward motion. Gently brush off  snow to avoid damaging limbs. If ice accumulation is involved, it's better to allow it to melt off naturally. Attempts to break ice often result in broken branches. Never try to remove ice from branches no matter how loaded down. Be patient and let Mother Nature melt that ice.

If you have narrow evergreens with multiple, upright shoots, such as arborvitae or some junipers, loosely tie the stems together with old nylon stockings or other soft cloths to prevent them from splitting open if weighted down by snow.

If winter damage occurs, wait to see if the plant recovers by late spring. If damage is mild, new bud growth will replace the dead spots. Trim out dead, dying, diseased, or crossed branches. Scrape the branch gently with your fingernail or knife to see where the under-bark is alive or dead. Cut back to the next branch or to one-quarter inch from the next living bud.

Larger branches should be cut  to the tree trunk. Never leave a stub, since this opens up the tree to disease. Don't cut flush to the trunk, but cut to a slight bulging area of the limb called the branch collar. To prevent ripping of bark below large branches, make a partial undercut about a foot out from the trunk. Next, cut off the limb about a foot and a half from the trunk. The last and third cut will remove the limb stub and will be just on the outside of the branch collar. New growth from the branch collar (like a doughnut growing inward) will eventually cover the wound.

Keep those questions and comments coming by sending to Christine Schlueter, 19276 Walden Ave, Hutchinson MN 55350 or email

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