A bold and very ornamental eastern North American native that produces beautiful clusters of lupine-like blue flowers from May through June. A bumblebee favourite! This drought tolerant plant was once used to make blue dye. After the flowers, swollen charcoal black seed pods about 5 cm (2") long form on stems that are in demand for dried flower arrangments. Loose seeds in the pods rattle when shaken. Grows in full sun or partial shade in a rich, well-drained soil. Height 60-90 cm (2-3') or more with an equal width. Absolutely underused in gardens and landscapes. Requires at least three years in the garden to show its full potential. Perennial hardy to Zone 3.
|How To Grow||Due to seed dormancy caused by a hard, impermeable seed coat, when direct sowing outdoors, it is best to sow seed in late fall. This allows the seed to be naturally stratified over the winter. Indoors, sow seed March 1st in a soil-less mix but first nick or file the hard seed coat to improve germination. Maintain the growing medium at a temperature of 20 C (70 F) for the 5-10 day germination period. After germination, grow on under lights at a slightly cooler temperature then harden off and transplant outside to a sunny to partially shaded site with rich well drained soil.|
|Blooming Season Begins||Early Summer|
|Propagation||Start Indoors or Sow Direct in Fall|
|Days to Emergence||5 to 10|
|Light||Full Sun to Partial Sun|
|Height||Medium Tall (60 to 90 cm)(24 to 36")|
|Frost Tolerance||Winter Hardy|
|Degree of Difficulty||Prior Experience Beneficial|
|Heritage||Native of Canada|
|Suggested uses.||Large specimen or for massing in large area.
Component of native plantings.
Natural dye production.
Specimen in formal gardens.
Pollinator garden plant.
|Requires Stratification||Many native plants produce seed that is viable but dormant. This means that while the seed has all the internal structures and nutrients required to germinate, the seed coat is so hard, water cannot pass through it and initiate germination. When seed is in this state, it is known as being dormant. Seed dormancy is a naturally selected for trait that protects the seed of many plants allowing them to safely overwinter and then be ready to sprout in more favourable conditions in spring.
The remedy to naturally breaking seed dormancy is typically the passing of time. In particular, seed overwintering outside and experiencing the natural freeze thaw cycles that occur in late fall, winter and early spring. To artificially break seed dormancy, sow the seed in a soil-less mix, water than chill in a refrigerator for a set period of time. This dormancy breaking process is called stratification.