Baptisia – False Indigo, Wild Indigo
The Baptisias are strong growing plants with yellow, white, and dark blue flowers which somewhat resemble the Lupine, being pea shaped. The flowers grow on a spike about 6 inches long. False Indigo (Baptisia australis) grows about 3 feet high and has dark blue flowers and dark bluish-green leaves cut very deeply to form three oval leaflets. Wild Indigo (B. tinctoria) has short leaves and bright yellow flowers. It grows from 2, feet to 4 feet high. These plants bloom from May through July.
UTILIZE. These are very striking plants for the border because of the excellent spikes of blue or yellow color. They are also good in the wild garden.
GENERAL. Baptisias should be planted in full sunlight, otherwise, they prove to be shy in blooming. They will stand dry, sandy soils.
PROPAGATION. They are usually propagated from seeds and division of the plants which are very woody at the crown. The seeds should be sown as soon as they are gathered and wintered over in the cold frame, where they will germinate the following Spring.
- Plant Baptisia in well-draining soil in a sunny location. It can tolerate some shade, but it will produce more flowers in full sun.
- Water Baptisia regularly during the first growing season to help it establish a strong root system. After the first year, it is relatively drought-tolerant and does not need frequent watering.
- Fertilize Baptisia in the spring with a balanced fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 formula. Avoid over-fertilizing, as this can lead to excessive foliage growth at the expense of flowers.
- Prune Baptisia in the late winter or early spring, cutting back the previous year’s growth to encourage new growth and more flowers.
- Use Baptisia as a specimen plant in a border or as a backdrop in a perennial bed. It is also well-suited to naturalized areas or meadows.
- Baptisia is resistant to pests and diseases, so it requires little maintenance once it is established. However, it can be prone to powdery mildew in humid conditions, so consider planting it in an area with good air circulation to help prevent this disease.