Blue False Indigo

Baptisia australis (Wild Indigo or Blue False Indigo) is a long living and tough native perennial for the Eastern United States and is hardy in zones 3-9. The spikes of blue lupine-like flowers are beautiful in early summer. I noticed it gets its’ large flush earlier in the summer, but it is sporadically blooming now in my garden. Baptisia is an easy perennial that prefers a sunny spot in average garden soil. In addition, it will grow 3-4 feet in height, but may take sometime to fully mature to this size. Once established it is drought tolerant. The best part is it will tolerate most soil types except a wet site. This wonderful addition to my garden was purchased at our Native Plant Sale last fall. When planting you will initially have to water it well for a few weeks until it gets established. Make sure that you place it where you want it, because it has a hard time recovering when moved. This is because of the long tap root it develops which makes it ideal for drought tolerance, but not transplanting. If you must move it to a new location in your garden, then it is best done immediately after flowering and then water it well. This is the only native food source for the Wild Indigo Duskywing or Skipper butterfly. This is a small butterfly found in the Eastern United States. See all those little flat round green seed pods? They will mature into inflated black pods that are ornamentally interesting. These seed pods were used as children in the past as rattles. The seed pods are quite valued in dried flower arrangements. The early Americans used this plant to make a blue dye, hence the common name of Wild Blue Indigo. I am going to try to save seed from this Baptisia so I can have this beautiful native in other areas of my garden or share with friends.
note:Β  This is not Baptisia, sorry for the error, actually it’s Skullcap Hyssop.Β  My bad! lolΒ 

35 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Nancy J. Bond on September 1, 2008 at 4:28 am

    A lovely native–beautiful shade of blue.


  2. Posted by Kanak Hagjer on September 1, 2008 at 8:22 am

    Very interesting post…even if we don’t grow the same plants I’m curious to know about others’ native plants. Actually came back to admire your must’ve taken dozens of photos?!!


  3. Posted by Les, Zone 8a on September 1, 2008 at 11:06 am

    I grow ‘Purple Smoke’ and love this plant too. It is thriving despite the lack of rain, but I have never seen it rebloom, you are lucky. I can also attest to the fact it gets shrub size, but goes away completely in the winter. Last year my spent stems all blew away in a wind storm leaving no trace, I thought it had been stolen.


  4. Posted by Gail on September 1, 2008 at 11:28 am

    This is a wonderful plant and after moving it several times while young, The last few years it blooms wonderfully! I have noticed little offspring seedlings near this plant so I know the seeds can’t be too hard to start. Thanks for showcasing a great native.



  5. Posted by GardenJoy4Me on September 1, 2008 at 11:34 am

    Hello there PGL !
    YES ! one of the most striking plants in my garden and it seemed to really shine this year .. more rain than usual might have given it a boost? .. they are amazing all year round ..I now have those black seedpods that rattle like crazy when you shake them .. and I would dearly love to have another cultivar like Purple Smoke .. no space left ? Yikes !
    Posts on natives or drought tolerant plants are GREAT ! Thank You !


  6. Posted by Cosmo on September 1, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    Hi, PGL–You are so lucky to have a rebloom. The seed heads have already formed on mine–actually they’ve been there for several weeks now, and they’re stunning in their own right. You shouldn’t have any trouble getting seedlings. But as Les says, the plant often completely disappears during the winter, and it can take a little time to come up, so mark where you’ve planted it.


  7. Posted by PGL on September 1, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    Thanks Nancy. It's been in my garden a full year now and I'm quite pleased with this lovely blue Native.

    Thanks Kanak. I find it interesting to see what other parts of the world can grow in their gardens too. πŸ™‚ I took tons of pictures of the Clematis. It is so gorgeous at the moment.

    Hi Les! I looked up your Purple Smoke and it is a beauty too. Thanks for the info. This will be the first complete season in the garden. I planted it last fall.

    Thanks Gail, I've seen a couple of babies near the base of mine too. I'm going to make sure mine has plenty of space around it so it can mature where it is. πŸ™‚

    Thank you Joy! I'm glad you enjoy this plant as much as I do. Purple Smoke does look like another wonderful cultivar too. I love Native plants too and I'm glad you liked the post today.

    It must like where it is Cosmos because I planted it last fall & it seems to be doing well so far. I will definitely make sure to mark where it is. πŸ™‚ I've already noticed a couple of babies near the base of the mother plant. πŸ™‚


  8. Posted by tina on September 1, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Thanks for the great info. I just planted this plant this spring when Wal-Mart had a sale and practically gave the plants away. I planted ‘Carolina Moonlight’ and I so hope it takes off! Right now something is eating it. Drought tolerant I could use!!!!! No rain anywhere in the forecast. Sigh. Yours looks great I hope someday mine blooms.


  9. Posted by Meadowview Thymes on September 1, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Very pretty plant. I love native plant sales. You can find the best plants and the prices are usually resonable too.
    Happy Labor Day!


  10. Posted by garden girl on September 1, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Love, love, love this beautiful plant! I’ve grown in past gardens, but was never lucky enough to have it rebloom.

    I planted several ‘Purple Smoke’ baptisias. Only one survived, and barely hangs on. Wish I’d gotten the blue instead, and am still thinking about trying one here. They’ve also gotten just as large and thrived and bloomed just as well for me in part sun in past gardens.


  11. Posted by Carla on September 1, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    Thank you for this information. I have this plant, and now that I know more about it, I know what to do with it!


  12. Posted by Kathleen on September 1, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    Another great plant PGL! I had ‘Purple Smoke’ in another garden but don’t have any in my current garden. Your blue one is just as pretty and obviously happy if you’ve gotten it to rebloom.


  13. Posted by Rose on September 1, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    This is another one of those plants on my wish list! I have the perfect spot for it; I’m going to have to save your helpful information to make sure it thrives. Thanks for the information!


  14. Posted by OhioMom on September 1, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    Beautiful plant, I love the blue flowers. Wonder if it would grow in a container ?


  15. Posted by PGL on September 1, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    What a lovely cultivar you planted Tina. I can’t wait for it to bloom so you can post pics. I’m glad I could give you some info on these plants.

    Thanks Linda. Native Plants Sales are great, they are having another one in my area the middle of September. Hope to find more great stuff! πŸ™‚ Happy Labor Day to you too!

    I don’t know if it was just a fluke that it rebloomed GG or what. I’m pleased with this plant so far.

    I’m glad I could provide you more info about this wonderful native plant Carla.

    Thanks Kathleen. I keep hearing people talk about Purple Smoke. I can’t remember which cultivar this one is. I lost the tag, 😦

    I’m glad I could provide you some useful information Rose for future use. I’ve enjoyed this plant so far in my garden.

    I don’t think this one would be good for a container because of the taproot. Thanks Mom!


  16. Posted by Susie on September 1, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    I’ve not planted this before but I do think it is quite pretty. A friend in Ga had it in his backyard and it was about 5-6 feet tall. It wasn’t in bloom when I saw it though. We also sold it at the nursery but it didn’t seem to be too popular. We still have a couple there, maybe we’ll throw it away and I’ll bring it home.


  17. Posted by Karen on September 1, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    Beautiful! Almost looks a bit like a blue/purple penstemon I have in my garden.


  18. Posted by PGL on September 1, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    Another great plant to add to your Keepsake Garden Susie. πŸ˜‰ I don’t know why it wasn’t popular unless people didn’t really know that it was a native perennial. Mine is only about 15-18″ right now. It gets to be about 2-3 ft tall at maturity.

    Thanks Karen. I have a white penstemon. I bet your’s is gorgeous too. Another great native perennial that attracts the wildlife.


  19. Posted by Benjamin Vogt on September 1, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    Oh, I wish they’d establish faster! I’m terribly impatient–unlike many other gardeners. I’ve got ‘Carolina Moonlight’ and a ‘Prairie Smoke’ that harbor caterpillars, not blooms.


  20. Posted by Sara G on September 1, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    Great post and picture! You have a very informative blog!
    Thanks for your comment on my vacation pics. That is only the first day in Calif. I still have the beach and then back to LV pics!
    I will work on them this week.
    Take care


  21. Posted by PGL on September 1, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    Me too, but I’m grateful for the blooms right now Benjamin. Carolina Moonlight is a beauty.

    Thank you Sara. How very sweet. I look forward to seeing more pictures from your trip. πŸ˜‰


  22. Posted by Cynthia on September 1, 2008 at 11:22 pm

    Such an interesting plant! I hope you take pictures of the seed pods as they mature as I would love to see what they look like! πŸ™‚


  23. Posted by Cindy on September 2, 2008 at 12:28 am

    I am really going to have to look into this as it is drought tolerant.



  24. Posted by PGL on September 2, 2008 at 1:07 am

    I will do that Cynthia. πŸ™‚ I’m glad you like the plant.

    Drought tolerant is a great asset in plants Cindy. πŸ™‚


  25. Posted by Kylee on September 2, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    Tina, I didn’t know that about the Duskywing Skipper butterfly! I’ve got this Baptisia, as well as ‘Twilight Prairie Blues’ and love them both. I started the original species from seed and it was a really fast grower! It’s now making its own shrub elsewhere in our yard.


  26. Posted by Cindy on September 2, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    This is something I have to check out. Love that it’s drought tolerant, it might work in some of those hard to get the hose to places. Thanks for the great info.


  27. Posted by Mr. McGregor's Daughter on September 2, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    Congratulations on the rebloom. I felt lucky to have mine bloom for the 1st time this year. Then a deer came & ate off the blooming stalk before the seedheads had a chance to form. I was so disgusted.


  28. Posted by Frances, on September 2, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    Hi PGL, what a treasure to have one of these that reblooms! You have done an excellent job of telling the attributes of this worthwhile plant. I have one blue and several white flowering ones and the Carolina Moonlight mentioned. I like the blue color in spring when it blooms here with all the pinks, but the white seems to be the more robust plant. I thought I had saved seeds from the blue but they all turned out to be white! The pods are opening now so maybe I can try to germinate some of the blues. Great post.


  29. Posted by PGL on September 3, 2008 at 2:44 am

    Sounds like you are a fan of Baptisia too. I’m glad I could give you some info you didn’t know before Kylee. I look forward to my little specimen turning into something impressive someday soon. πŸ™‚

    That sounds like the perfect area for these Cindy.

    First off thank you! That would of disgusted me too MMD! The nerve of that deer.

    I would love to see your white one Frances. Hopefully you will post a picture of it when it blooms next season. Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed my post. πŸ™‚


  30. Posted by Mother Nature on September 3, 2008 at 10:57 am

    An interesting seedpod is a characteristic that makes a plant even more attractive. I’ll have to find a place in my garden for it. I’m particularly fond of natives.


  31. I agree Donna. I love when a plant has an added bonus of interesting foliage, seedpods, or fruits. πŸ™‚ Natives rock in the garden.


  32. Posted by Beth on September 3, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    Thanks for this post. I just bought this plant this year and I will be anxious to see what it does next spring. I didn’t know much about it so your post was very helpful.


  33. I’m glad my post was helpful to you Beth. I’ve learned alot reading other garden blogs. πŸ™‚


  34. Posted by Tracy on June 20, 2010 at 11:52 am

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE my false indigo plant, so dainty even when the flowers are gone… How do I save the seeds though? Right now I have many green pods. Thanks for the help!!!


  35. I read somewhere that it can be deadheaded for a rebloom. So I did and it has not and now I won’t have those seed pods. Oh well.


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