Baptisias: Great American Natives!

Baptisias, commonly known as false indigo, are North American native members of the pea family and quite drought tolerant once established. They provide amazing architectural form in a sunny garden or perennial border, and are deer-resistant and a butterfly magnet. Not only do baptisia come in blue, which many people are familiar with in the most common species, B. australis, but they are also available in a wide array of colors such as white, yellow, purple, and pink, and new breeding efforts are producing bicolor flowers such as those of Lunar Eclipse. Baptisias have long been one of our favorite groups of sun perennials here at PDN. Through our trials of new varieties introduced  to the market, as well as our own breeding program, we continue to select for improved structure and habit as well as flower color. In 2017, we have introduced 2 new varieties in our Tower Series, Yellow Towers and Ivory Towers. These join our previous introduction, Blue Towers, all having Read more [...]

Agave winter protection experiment

One of the difficulties growing agaves in our climate is keeping them dry in winter.  Our biggest losses occur when temperatures drop below 20 degrees F, and the ground is damp. While we always plant agave on slopes, that only helps with the external drainage...it does not necessarily keep the soil dry.  Once agaves grow large enough, they are better able to shed water and keep the soil dry, so our dilemma is getting young plants to survive.  This year, we decided to experiment using microwave covers.  Keep in mind  we are not interested in cold protection, only protection from moisture.  We were also looking for something that would keep the soil dry, while not baking the plants when the sun was bright.  If the covers were not filled with holes, the heat underneath would actually make the plants start to grow and become more cold sensitive. We're only half way through winter, but so far, our experiment is a great success. We only cover the agaves several days before the temperatures Read more [...]