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Baptisia 'Purple Smoke' (wild indigo)

Baptisia 'Purple Smoke'

wild indigo

Discovered by Rob Gardener of the North Carolina Botanical Gardens and introduced by Niche Gardens of Chapel Hill, NC. Apparently a chance hybrid of B. australis and B. alba, this has the charcoal-gray stems of alba and the blue color from australe, although it is more purple than B. australe. It is a good and vigorous grower and destined to be very much treasured.

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2-3 Feet


2 Feet


24-36 Inches

Bloom Color


USDA Hardiness Zone 4-8

wild indigo Interesting Notes

A Niche Gardens/NC Botanical Garden 1996 Introduction. Charcoal stems and gray-green foliage, typical of Baptisia alba, are topped with enchanting, lupine-like flowers that are smoky-violet with a purple eye. Numerous flowers first open low on the bloom spike and ascend, with the flower stalk topping out at 4'. Mature plants of 3-4 years can bear over 50 blooming stalks in springtime gardens. This exciting, naturally-occurring hybrid of B. alba and B. australis offers the best of both species, and was found, watched over and nurtured by Rob Gardner, former curator of the NC Botanical Garden. 'Purple Smoke' thrives in lean, well-drained soil in full sun. - Niche Gardens

Blooming in mid-May, this hybrid cultivar is a striking and fast-growing addition to the spring garden. Purple Smoke false indigo inherits its flower color from Baptisia australis and charcoal stems and gray-green foliage from Baptisia alba. The smoky violet 18" long terminal flower clusters, borne on 3-4’ tall plants, provides a strong vertical statement in the back of the garden border or as a specimen. Like other baptisias, this plant prefers full sun and well-drained slightly acidic to alkaline soils. Purple Smoke false indigo is a splendid companion planted with Amsonia hubrichtiiAscelpias incarnataSchizachyrium scopariumSorghastrum nutansGillenia stipulata, and Euphorbia spp. - Mt. Cuba Center

The genus name comes from the Greek word "bapto" which means "to dye" because some of the darker flowered species were used as dyes.

Baptisia 'Purple Smoke' Growing and Maintenance Tips

Grow in full sun or part shade in average to dry soil. Baptisia has a very deep tap root, giving it the ability to survive long dry periods and making it a challenge to move once it is established. Move in the early spring if you must. Full sun is best for the best flowering and performance.

Good Substitutions

wild indigo Baptisia 'Purple Smoke'
wild indigo Baptisia sphaerocarpa 'Screaming Yellow'
false blue indigo Baptisia australis
wild indigo Baptisia 'Carolina Moonlight'

Key Characteristics & Attributes

Full Sun
Full Sun
Part Sun
Part Sun
Deer Resistant
Deer Resistant
Cut Flower
Cut Flower
Drought Tolerant
Drought Tolerant

Additional Information

Soil Moisture Needs
Plug Type
Landscape Plug™
Season of Interest (Flowering)
Late Spring / Early Summer
Propagation Type