The Q&A Archives: Leaf Drop

Question: I was checking out my flower garden after a big rain storm last night and I found that my Baptisia has lost most of all of it's leaves.I have mostly stems. Am I losing this plant? I planted it this spring so it is not established yet.

Answer: It would be unusual for a Baptisia to defoliate spontaneously unless there is some sort of problem. This plant is occasionally said to not transplant well, especially in larger sizes, possibly because it has such a large tap root. Losing leaves is a sign of stress. If careful inspection does not show any disease or insects, then I would suggest watering it more carefully. When you water, apply enough so that the soil is evenly moist down deep, not just at the surface. Dig down and see how effective your watering is -- it may surprise you. Water about once a week or every five days when it is hot, rather than every day. This enourages the roots to grow deeper where the soil tends to stay moist longer. Also apply several inches of organic mulch and keep that in place year round. This helps keep the soil moist and also feeds it as it breaks down over time. You might try lightly shading the plant to try to help it releaf out. Good luck!

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