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Baptisia australis (false blue indigo)
Species Distribution Map: Click to enlarge
Map Color Key © 2013 BONAP

Baptisia australis

false blue indigo

Blue spikes of pea-shaped flowers resemble the tall racemes of lupines in May and early June. A slow to mature, but very rewarding native garden perennial. Found in open woods, river banks and sandy floodplains, New York to Nebraska to Georgia.

SIZE
Baptisia australis LP50 - 50 per flat Availability
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Height

3-4 Feet

Spread

3-4 Feet

Spacing

24-36 Inches

Bloom Color

Blue

USDA Hardiness Zone 4-8

false blue indigo Interesting Notes

While some plants are limited in range, Baptisia australis is a workhorse in the garden, ranging in sites of open prairie to woodland edge. Growing 3-4’ tall and spreading 3-4’ wide, it is a large multi-stemmed member of the pea family. The glaucous leaves are a grey green-blue and the flower spikes range in color of white to deep indigo, most often occurring as a lighter blue. There is some variability of this plant as it comes from seed. Performing best in full sun, it can be placed in part-shade with additional staking required. It is no wonder this plant was named The Perennial Plant Association's 2010 Perennial Plant of the Year™.


With its deep taproots, Baptisia australis adapts to a wide variety of environments but is found mostly along wood edges, limestone glades, and in prairies. It prefers full sun and moist soils, including clay and limestone, but there are examples of this plant found way out in the Texas Hill Country displaying its survival in drier conditions.


The sweet, soft foliage of Baptisia and its presence makes it a go-to in our full sun gardens, showing a long season of interest from spring and summer with its indigo-blue spikes of blooms to summer with its blue-green foliage to late summer and fall, where the seedpods are held erect over the plant and provide winter structure in the garden. The seed pods are used in cut flower arrangements or in dried arrangements. Wild indigo takes three years to fully establish but afterwards, is easy care. It is well-loved by pollinators, including bees, and is a host for hoary edged and elfin winged butterflies as well as black spotted prominent moth. We’ve found the plant to thrive in anything from a gravel garden to a perennial border to a naturalized setting. 

Baptisia australis Growing and Maintenance Tips

Grow in full sun 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. Propagation by seed is preferable due to the long tap root. Seed-grown plants will take 2-3 years to flower. 

Good Substitutions

white false indigo Baptisia alba var. macrophylla
wild indigo Baptisia sphaerocarpa 'Screaming Yellow'
wild indigo Baptisia 'Purple Smoke'
dwarf wild indigo Baptisia australis var. minor

Key Characteristics & Attributes

Full Sun
Full Sun
Part Sun
Part Sun
Songbird-friendly
Songbird-friendly
Pollinator-friendly
Pollinator-friendly
Deer Resistant
Deer Resistant
Hummingbird-friendly
Hummingbird-friendly
Salt Tolerance
Salt Tolerance
Drought Tolerant
Drought Tolerant
Cut Flower
Cut Flower

Additional Information

Soil Moisture Needs
Average
Dry
Green Infrastructure
Meadow/Prairie
Wetland Indicator Status
Falcutative Upland (FACU)
Plug Type
Landscape Plug™
For Animals
Caution: Toxic
Attributes
Clay Tolerance
Ornamental Foliage
Native to North America
Season of Interest (Flowering)
Late Spring / Early Summer
Propagation Type
Open pollinated