So sad - False Indigo wilting

amna(6 (MA))July 13, 2012

Hi, I feel like crying. I've loved this plant forever and finally got a nice big clump from this woman who was moving away and selling many of her garden plants super cheap. It looked great and healthy and had a lot of nice leaves and seed pods. I was so happy. Now, it's just sitting where I planted it and wilting away to glory! Did I do something wrong? Are there any special planting/transplanting tricks for this guy? Does it just not transplant well? I hope it lives.

Thanks in advance for any advice,


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I am assuming this is a recent acquisition/transplantation? If so, possibly the worst time of year to do so - middle of the prime growing season and while most of the eastern half of the country is experiencing a heat wave and drought. And also a plant not easily transplanted due a deep, woody root system. Poor thing is in shock!! Cut it back, keep it sufficiently (not overly) watered and hope for the best. It should recover and be fine next season.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 4:53PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

its real hard to offer advice w/o a picture ...

when did you plant it ...

how did you plant it ...

what is your soil ...

how often do you water it..

is it in sun or shade ...

one is usually not considered a true green thumb.. until they have killed every plant in their garden.. 3 times... and the biggest lesson in that.. is to not get emotionally invested in a plant ... and if it does die.. to simply try again ...

try to get us a pic.. and give us some good facts.. other than you are sad .. and maybe we can guess it out ...

my guess.. is recent transplant shock.. improper planting .. at the not best time of year [though you do what you have to do.. when you get he opportunity] ... and lack of PROPER water ... but again.. i am guessing.. w/o any real facts ...

we want to help.. give us something to work with ...

even if it browns and dies to the ground.. if we get things right.. it might not die.. and i am most worried about how you water ...


    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 4:54PM
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amna(6 (MA))

Sorry for the lack of info earlier. Here is a link with some pics:

I know that it's not a good time of year to be doing this but I just couldn't pass up on the deal - big, healthy, non-pot grown plants for $3 - $5!

I have been watering it pretty well, once a day in the evenings. It actually was looking fine with its rootball sitting in a bag but it got really unhappy once I put it in. Should I really cut it back? Won't that stress it out more? I'm fine with it being done for the season and dying back to the ground for now but I just want to try to make sure that it will come back next year.

Thank you all so much for trying to help,

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 5:16PM
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Cutting back perennials early or during the growing season is a pretty common practice and is done for many reasons - remove disease issues, get rid of ratty foliage, remove drought or scorch issues or just to rejuvenate growth and/or encourage reflowering. It is more stressful to the plant to attempt to support all that top growth with a damaged/divided root system than it is to cut it back. Now the plant can focus on re-establishing a root system and could very well produce some new growth too.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 5:37PM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

Just want to add that Baptisias are NOT, as so commonly believed, difficult to transplant. I have hacked old plants apart and given away pieces and every one has survived. Tony Avent, of Plant Delights Nursery, wrote an article some years ago also stating that they are easy/peasy to transplant.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2012 at 6:12AM
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It doesn't look that bad. Keep it watered. It should survive and be great next year.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2012 at 6:25AM
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terrene(5b MA)

This year it probably won't look too good, but your Baptisia will probably be fine if kept well watered when it doesn't rain through this growing season. If that is a very sunny spot, it could probably benefit from some shading (or you could have nurtured it along in the pot in a partially shady spot and transplant in fall).

They are pretty rugged perennials - mine went dormant early one year due to drought, but were back as beautiful as ever in the Spring. They are also coming back nicely from a vole attack over the very snowy winter we had in 2010-11 - that reduced their root systems by about 90%!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2012 at 12:20PM
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I would cut it back as trying to water it enough to keep it from wilting could cause more damage to the crown than if you just cut it back, watered it a couple times and then let it regrow. I've moved lots of these after they are leafed out and always cut them back. This spring I potted up several after they were done flowering, cut them back, and not only did they regrow more stems than before but they flowered again. And I probably only water them once or twice a week. Too much and you might rot it.

Good luck!


    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 10:50PM
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I can't give you any advise on yours because I have trouble with mine each year. I have two that are about 4 years old. Every summer as soon as it gets hot and dry they lose probably 75-80% of their leaves and look terrible for the remainder of the season. I think I'm going to dig mine out, as their 2-3 week bloom time just isn't worth it.

Totally Confused

    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 8:17AM
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amna(6 (MA))

Ok, so I was going to cut the plant down as was suggested to help it settle in to its new home. Could someone say approximately how high above the ground I should cut it down to? I'm afraid to cut it too much and have it completely disappear.

Thanks for all your advice so far,

    Bookmark   July 23, 2012 at 5:52PM
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You know, it's already been 10 days since your original post. After this long, anything that is alive is going to live, anything dead is already dead. I would just trim off anything that is obviously dead, and leave any live tissue to help feed the root system for next year.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2012 at 6:22PM
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amna(6 (MA))

Thanks, denninmi. That's a pretty pragmatic response :-)Will do.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2012 at 9:47PM
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