False Indigo, Wild Indigo
Baptisia x ‘Lunar Eclipse’
Part of the Prarieblues™ Series
Complex hybrid involving Baptisia alba, B. australis, B. leucophaea, and B. tinctoria.
Part of the Prarieblues™ Series. There are many cultivars of Baptisia I have wanted to try, but this only the second I have had as a companion. A couple of years ago I bought B. ‘Carolina Moonlight’ from Brent and Becky’s but I forgot about it and left it behind when I moved from Mississippi back here. Baptisia haven’t been readily available locally so I was happy to see this one at the garden center in Clinton on 4-24-17. They had several NICE plants that were already flowering in larger pots but I chose a less expensive route that wasn’t flowering. The less you spend the more you can buy.
Baptisia x ‘Lunar Eclipse’ is one of several in the Prarieblues Series from the Chicago Botanic Garden. This hybrid features flowers that change color… They emerge light lemon-over-cream then turn to cream, pale lilac and shades of purple/blue. They grow to a height of 3-4 feet in a full to mostly sunny location. Baptista attracts a lot of butterflies.
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Zones: USDA Zones 3-10
Size: 36-48” tall x 36-48” wide.
Light: Full sun to light shade preferably
Soil: Well-drained soil
Water: Average. Drought tolerant once established.
Uses: Attracts butterflies.
Baptisia x ‘Lunar Eclipse’ was developed by Dr. Jim Ault at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, Illinois. Their website says, “A next-generation hybrid developed from our previously released Baptisia ‘Midnight’, ‘Lunar Eclipse’ was specially selected for its unique flowers, which are oversized and produced on long inflorescences held well above the foliage. The flowers are initially a light lemon over cream color, then age first to cream, then to light and ultimately medium violet, producing a unique two- to three-toned color effect. The plant has a somewhat open habit with stout stems angled out at the base. The original plant (7 years old) was 33″ tall x 63″ wide in late autumn of 2010.”
It is a complex hybrid involving Baptisia alba, B. australis, B. leucophaea, and B. tinctoria.
The Baptisia genus was formerly placed in the Leguminosae family. The 2013 version of The Pant List (which is no longer maintained) lists it in this family along with 945 other genera which may not include all the unresolved genera (I am not going to count to see). The family consisted of 24,505 accepted species, 2,327 accepted infraspecific names, 35,881 synonyms, and a whopping 16,627 unresolved names! When I first wrote this page in December 2017, Plants of the World Online says Baptisia is in the Fabaceae family and consisted of 683 accepted genera. It also says there are 22 accepted species of Baptisia while the 2013 version of The Plant List named 28 accepted species plus an additional 7 of infraspecific rank, 81 synonyms and 16 unresolved names. When I updated this page last on March 27 (2019), POWO has the list of accepted species down to 16… The list of accepted genera in the Fabaceae family has increased to 760.
For a while, the Salvia coccinea were growing among the Baptisia x ‘Lunar Eclipse’ and almost overshadowed it. It didn’t seem to mind, though, and continued growing.
The leaves of the Baptisia x ‘Lunar Eclipse’ are kind of a bluish-green color and remind me of alfalfa.
Even after several frosts, the Baptisia x ‘Lunar Eclipse’ was still green. I piled up leaves around the base to help insulate the roots because I definitely want it to return in the spring. Eventually, it did get a good zap and went dormant. As you can see, The Phlomis ‘Edward Bowles’ to the left is covered with a big pot. I have been covering it up every night. It can be tricky.
January was very cold and I kept the Baptisia x ‘Lunar Eclipse’ covered with leaves. I didn’t cut the dead stems off for several reasons. One is because they help keep the leaves on the plant. Some perennials need to have their stems left on so water won’t get inside their hollow stems over winter. It can cause the roots to rot.
When I checked under the leaves of the Baptisia x ‘Lunar Eclipse’ on March 3, I saw it was sprouting…
Several perennials had begun to emerge from their winters sleep, but with the temperatures still being pretty cold, they weren’t growing that much.
Then as temps started warming up and staying that way they started growing.
The Baptisia x ‘Lunar Eclipse’ was doing very well by May 6 when the above photo was taken.
It also had a few buds… Ummm… Why do the buds look so dark?
Ummm… Something is weird. Didn’t the description say “The flowers are initially a light lemon over cream color, then age first to cream, then to light and ultimately medium violet, producing a unique two- to three-toned color effect.”
I suppose it is very possible I missed the flowers when they were first opening, otherwise, I would have more photos. Maybe it isn’t as dramatic as I thought it would be since this is its first year flowering.
You know, when you see photos of a plant in catalogs and online, you expect to get what you see. I suppose I shouldn’t be too quick to judge and say this plant was mislabeled yet. Let’s see what happens next year (if it survives the winter) and hopefully, I can pay much closer attention. I seem to have several unanswered questions that only observation can answer.
After a few days, the flowers were no more. Ummm… Why didn’t they last longer and over a longer period of time? Very interesting. Now all I have is a HUGE plant overshadowing the Phlomis ‘Edward Bowles’.
Then I noticed the HUGE peas!
Even after flowering, the Baptisia is a nice looking plant. I think I goofed when I planted it here, though. It is really crowding out the Phlomis ‘Edward Bowles’. I don’t particularly want to move the Phlomis, though. Maybe I should move the Baptisia… That is just something to consider over the winter for next spring if they survive the winter and I am still here.
After the flowers fade the seed pods form. They look pike pea pods.
BIG seed pods!
Within a few days after the previous photo, the pods were black…
The Baptisia ‘Lunar Eclipse’ had grown so big it was almost covering up the Phlomis ‘Edward Bowles’ in the southwest corner bed. I decided to give a good trimming…
The Baptisia ‘Lunar Eclipse’ has started coming up and will soon be growing like mad. I still may relocate it so it won’t be overshadowing the Phlomis ‘Edward Bowles’. I am going to keep a closer eye on this plant this year when its buds start to form and the flowers first open up.
The wannabe Baptisia ‘Lunar Eclipse’ is still slowly but surely growing. Once the temps warm up it will really take off. I still want to move it…
The Baptisia ‘Lunar Eclipse’ wannabe has grown A LOT since I took the last photos on April 7. I had to make a decision to move this plant to the southeast corner bed because it shades the Phlomis ‘Edward Bowles’ too much. At least I think so although the Phlomis wasn’t complaining. ANYWAY, Saturday afternoon I took the shovel and stuck it in all the way around the clump to loosen the soil… Ummm… Baptisia has deep taproots and didn’t like to be disturbed so I was going to be very careful to get as much soil and as deep as I could. It would not budge! I thought I was going to break the shovel handle because the soil was so hard. So, I decided I would move the Phlomis to the southeast corner bed instead. It was not happy about that decision…
Only two days after the previous photo was taken, I noticed the wannabe Baptisia ‘Lunar Eclipse’ has MANY buds!
Now I will have to keep an eye on it…
I will continue adding more photos and information as time goes by. What do your Baptisia x ‘Lunar Eclipse’ look like?
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