Monday, May 12, 2014

Digging, Transplanting, and Growing Baptisias-Successfully

I am still working on moving my garden, and work it is. I would perhaps be further ahead than I am but the soil on the farm is pure clay. That means that two days after a hard rain the soil is really hard and I can't really get a shovel into it to dig holes for planting. As such, I cannot plant constantly though I can dig continuously because the soil in my current gardens is beautiful, rain or shine. 

I did manage to dig some baptisias both this year and last year. It has been over a month now and I thought this post would be timely for anyone else who might ever consider digging up baptisias-think long and hard before you do! 

The above baptisias are 'Lemon Meringue' baptisias and were dug and transplanted last fall. The picture shows their current state on the farm and I must say they have done wonderfully. Mine are quite a pit paler in their yellowness than the website shows but I assure you, they were labeled 'Lemon Meringue' when I purchased them at a local nursery in the fall of 2012. Their light yellow presence is a nice foil for all of the peonies in this bed. I was very excited to see that they had made it through the winter. I had difficulty digging these baptisias but because they had only been in the ground about one year when I dug them, they were not so very bad. There were several long roots that extended several feet from the plant but I was able to dig them out and I cut some that I could not dig.  These baptisias have done quite well and the battle to dig them was well worth it to see them blooming in the new garden.
Enter this spring and the job comes up to dig up very established baptisias that have been in place for many years. This was a job!! It honestly took me a full day to get only four baptisias out of the ground. I gave up on the fifth as I did not think I'd be successful with digging it out of its spot so I left it alone. Everyone says baptisias have a taproot-no! To me a taproot is a single main root. Baptisias actually have several taproots and those taproots are woody. If you can imagine an octopus with tentacles going everywhere then you can imagine a baptisias roots. These roots delve very deeply into the soil. I bet mine went at least two feet or more deeply into the soil. This is a pretty long way for a perennial's roots to grow. I never could find the end of the roots though and settled with using strong loppers to cut off the roots that held me up. When all was said and done here is what one of the rootballs looked like just after digging. It was probably 18"-24" wide and more than a foot deep. It was also heavy.  Very, very, heavy.

But the good thing with big and heavy rootballs is the fact that the plant will usually settle into its new spot fairly easily. That is what has happened with the baptisias I dug last month. They are safely ensconced in the Wildflower Field at Tiger Way Gardens and are in full bloom. It might be hard to see the blue spires but they are there! The rest of the greenery in the Wildflower Field is mostly weeds and also seedlings of wildflower seeds I sowed last fall. These baptisias should grow and continue to thrive and will hopefully produce more baptisias to spread around the Wildflower Field.  

All in all it was well worth it to dig up my baptisias because even though I could've gone out and purchased plants to plant in the field, that simply would not have been as much fun! Plus, my plants are bigger than what you can usually buy so I get a headstart on the plant sizes in the new garden....

in the garden....still planting away.

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden


  1. Those roots are impressive. They sound like plants that you could let set out a bit and they'd be just fine.
    Always good to see the plants make the move to your farm.

  2. Looks good girl. A lot of work but will be worth it later on.

  3. It took you a day to get 4 out of the ground. Then it would have taken me less time as I would have given up after the first one was out! Girl, you are full of determination and persistence with this move. I would have just left them and moved on to something else since there is still so much yet to move.. You are my Garden Hero for sure!

  4. Glad they did well as around here moving them is tricky and they do not always do well...but I have so many volunteers that I am going to plant them in many spots where other things have died as they are so the yellow.