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August Resilient Plant

Thursday, August 08, 2019
by Josh Steger | Director of Horticulture

Leadplant, Amorpha canescens

We’ve got another Wisconsin native coming your way and it’s one of my all-time favorite plants!  Amorpha canescents, or Leadplant, is a woody perennial from the Legume Family (Fabaceae).  The Leadplant grows between one and three feet tall and after several years of establishment, they will take on the form of a small shrub. It is deciduous, so it will lose its blue/silver leaves at the end of the season.  In the fall it’s okay to cut the woody stems to the ground or leave them up over winter.  Your Leadplant will start over again at ground level or bud out from the leftover woody stems.  This spring our Leadplant took a bit longer to emerge because it was still cold.  Leadplants respond well to warm temperatures, so be patient in the spring when things start to warm up.  Leadplants are extremely drought tolerant, growing well in dry soil with plenty of sunlight.  Leadplants bloom between June and August, producing 4-8 inch of bluish and purple flower stalks with orange and red anthers.  This plant is a magnet to a variety of bees and other insects.      

Like Baptisia, Amorpha canescensputs out a 10-15 foot taproot making this plant resilient to prairie burns, livestock and as mentioned before, drought.  Another really cool thing about this plant is that it has bacteria that live in the roots that fix nitrogen back into the soil.  Why is this good?  Nitrogen is an important nutrient in the soil because it is essential for protein synthesis and plant growth.  If you have a space in your garden that is low on nitrogen, try adding a few of these plants to give your soil a boost. 

Amorphais a great, long lived plant to add to any garden that has dry, sandy and low nutrient soil, which makes this a great plant of resiliency. Try pairing Leadplant with Sporobolus heterolepis (Prairie Dropseed), Rattlesnake Masteror Bouteloua curtipendula (Sideoats Grama) for a naturalized look or use it as a single specimen in your home garden.  You can find our Leadplants amongst Prairie Dropseed and Monarda punctatain the Meadow Garden at Allen Centennial Garden.  If you want to pick up a few for yourself, The Flower Factory in Stoughton has you covered!    

Tags: Garden Display and Design, Green Initiatives

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