Breeder Profile: Dr. James Ault

Dr. Jim Ault working with his Baptisia hybrids

As an avid gardener, Dr. Jim Ault has long admired and grown Baptisia australis.  In the mid-1990s, he read a 1940s monograph on Baptisia by Mary Larisey in which she described the species and natural hybrids all native to North America.  Dr. Ault realized that horticulture lacked many of these naturally occurring forms and made it his goal to introduce hybrids of them to horticulture.

Over a period of about ten years, he worked to combine the best traits of the various species and hybrids to develop garden worthy plants with unique combinations of flower color, plant habits, and vigor.  His efforts produced the PRAIRIEBLUES™ series including: SOLAR FLARE PRAIRIEBLUES™ and TWILITE PRAIRIEBLUES™.

Currently,  Dr. Ault is the Director of Ornamental Plant Research at the Chicago Botanic Garden.  Through the Chicagoland Grows® program, he has also introduced the Meadowbrite™ series of Echinaceas, which are bred for their unique flower color and form.  As well as Phlox 'Violet Pinwheels' PP25884, a compact hybrid groundcover phlox.

Varieties Mentioned in this Article