Opinions Needed: Cutting Back Baptisia

forestwenchJune 11, 2010

** I did post this to the April 2010 Baptisia thread, but it seems it did not bring the thread to the top. If it shows up eventually- sorry for dup.**

This year my 4 yr old Baptisia australis got huge - meaning over 4' tall. Our warmest spring in 100 yrs maybe the cause?

I do ring it every year and normally just let it do it's thing. It is in over 6 hour sun - afternoon facing SW.

It is flopping bad, bent over completely at the ring- rain and wind. Some of the stems are so bent, I will not be able to stand them up, unless I stake individually, which I'd rather not. They may die off anyway.

I am thinking of experimenting and cutting it back to the ground... Never did this before and do not want to stress the plant more then it is already, but everything underneath is now too wet and on it's way to dying. Guessing I will get secondary growth, hopefully not a rebloom.

Actually my prairie smoke is out of control this year also, so I might cut back that too.

Any ideas/opinions on this?

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I cut mine back for the first time this year. I cut it back to about 15", not all the way to the ground. They looked terrible when I first did it and I was certain that I had killed them, or atleast ruined them for the season, but after about 2 weeks, I'm starting to see some new growth beginning. Shortly after cutting mine I noticed some sort of black fungus on some of the remaining lower leaves. I'm wondering now if that might have been caused by poor air circulation due to the upper growth shading it. I removed the affected stalks and haven't noticed any further spread.

My neighbor sort of shaped hers up, much the way you would shape a shrub. It looks much better than mine, but doesn't control the size as much.

Hope this gives you some options to consider.

Totally Confused

    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 11:17AM
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Last year I cut back my A. baptisia leaving some foliage on the stalks and those did very well. New growth, but less flowers this year. The few stalks that I cut all the way down to the ground did not resprout. I hope this helps!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2010 at 2:29AM
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katybird_PA(z6 PA)

I visited Longwood Garden's last year and noticed that they had sheared back there baptisia like a hedge. When I came home, I gave mine a good clipping and them responded very well to it. Unfortunately, this year the deer took care of the pruning and I didn't get much bloom at all. :-(

    Bookmark   June 12, 2010 at 6:01PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I cut mine back and you can hardly notice that it's been cut back. I trimmed the stems that were hanging over, taking them back to a joint just above leaves and left the center and back alone. It looks pretty good. I had to get it off the plant that was in front of it.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2010 at 2:59AM
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My Baptisia gets huge in the Summer and I was wondering what would happen if I cut it back in late Spring? Would that make it shorter when it bloomed or finished growing for the season?

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 5:15PM
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Spring blooming baptisias really won't respond well to being cut back..and you'd certainly cut off all the incoming blooms if you prune it anytime before bloom.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 6:10PM
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sukie9 - dbarron is correct. Baptisia australis is a fairly early spring blooming perennial. If you cut it back in late spring, you'll miss out on the gorgeous flowers. I use a peony ring to give my plants (I have several) the support and to keep them from sprawling since some of them aren't growing in full, all-day sun. They're just such beautiful, maintenance- & pest-free perennials, I simply wouldn't be without them.

I checked my perennial guide, Perennials for Every Purpose by Larry Hodgson and he recommends using peony rings for support as well.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 7:21PM
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Sukie, It does not hurt them to cut them back a little after they bloom though.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 10:01PM
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