Georgia Gardener Newsletter Cool Plant: May 28, 2009

False Indigo
Baptisia australis

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Species Native Range: Eastern U.S.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 3-9
Mature Size: 3-4 feet tall & wide
Exposure: Full sun to light shade
Soil: Loose, well-drained
Drought Tolerance: Excellent
Ease of Culture: Easy

This is one of my favorite perennials. Perhaps it's because I so love blue flowers or because it's easy to grow or since it's native. I suspect, it's a combination of all three. This "bushy" perennial emerges with 3-4 foot stems that develop bluish-green compound leaves. In May and June, stalks of blue flowers that resemble that of a pea (or lupine) stand above the foliage. Very showy and attractive to butterflies. Interesting pods develop later with several hard seeds inside which easily germinate.

False indigo does best in full sun to light shade in well-drained soil that is loose and rich in organic matter. It makes for a showy addition to a perennial border, cottage garden, wildflower meadow or mixed with other late spring to early summer blooming plants. Good companion plants include coreopsis, roses, Asiatic lilies, daylilies, orange milkweed, etc. There are other cultivars of this plant which have flower colors that range from darker indigo, white mixed with blue, yellow, etc.

Please note that deer occasionally browse this plant, so protect it if you have deer in your area.


False indigo is widely sold at retail nurseries, especially now when it's in bloom.

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