The 2010 Perennial Plant of the Year goes to Baptisia australis, also referred to as false indigo. While many times the perennial plant of the year is in fact versatile and well-suited for Minnesota, as with any nationally nominated plant, there are years when the plant of the year does not always turn out as we hope in Minnesota, or is not hardy to any or all of our Minnesota cold hardiness zones ( 2, 3, 4).
Baptisia australis is considered a long-lived perennial (barring any catastrophe, abuse, or major disruption to the plant or root zone) and is cold hardy in zones 3-8.
The Perennial Plant of the Year is named annually by the Perennial Plant Association, whose board of directors include plantsmen and women who represent nurseries, universities, botanical gardens, and other horticulture entities. The Perennial Plant Association hosts a Plant of the Year Committee, who votes yearly on one of several previously nominated perennial plants, and then nominates future selections based on the following characteristics:
- Suitable for a wide range of climatic conditions
- Low maintenance
- Pest and disease resistant
- Readily available in the year of release
- Multiple season of ornamental interest
- Easily propagated by asexual or seed propagation
Uses and information about Baptisia australis can be found in the Perennial Plant Association's flyer, as seen here:baptisia-australis_poy2010-1.pdf
As mentioned in the above flyer, Baptisia australis can be quite useful in prairie gardens, landscapes, or restoration, along with native and related species, Baptisia bracteata (cream to yellow flowers) and Baptisia alba (white flowers). The University of Minnesota bulletin Plants in Prairie Communities: Characteristics of Prairie Plants lists all three species as being used in mesic plant prairie communities.