Blue False Indigo



Botanical Name:  Baptisia australis

Common Name:  Blue False Indigo, Blue Wild Indigo, Wild Blue Indigo

Description:  False Blue Indigo isn’t a Florida native, but it is native to the Southeast: North Carolina to Georgia and Alabama.

It is a dense shrubby perennial with attractive blue-green leaves. In late spring, blue to indigo pea-shaped flowers are held aloft on upright flower stalks.  A patch of Baptisia australis in full bloom is a sight to behold – reminiscent of exotic lupines or Texas bluebonnets on steroids.  A plant of such beauty should be a prima donna but this species thrives in harsh conditions and once established is durable and long lived.

Its native habitat is prairies and pastures, along tree lines, in rocky open woodlands, and along rocky creek banks.

Wild Blue Indigo is densely branched with a mounding form and glaucous trifoliate leaves. Plants are anchored by a sturdy branched, deep taproot. They prefer not to be moved once established. Dramatic asparagus-like buds emerge from the roots in spring already topped with immature flower buds. As plants attain their mature height, the flower buds unfurl into a striking display of deep indigo pea-like blooms.  The flowers are arranged in erect racemes and are frequented by bees and butterflies. The flowers evolve into inflated deep purple pods that are unique and attractive landscape features. Grows best in sun to part sun in well drained average to moist soil. Plants tolerate drought and controlled burns. They are pest resistant and somewhat unpalatable to deer, rabbits and livestock. It quickly grows 3-4’ tall with 3-4’ spread.

This is a host plant for Frosted Elfin, Eastern Tailed Blue, Wild Indigo Duskywing, Clouded Sulfur, and Orange Sulfur Butterflies as well as the caterpillars of moths and skippers. It is of special value to native bees and bumble bees.

Like other members of the pea family, this plant requires the presence of microorganisms that inhabit nodules on the plant’s root system and produce nitrogen compounds necessary for the plant’s survival.

This plant in 1-gallon containers is 8-15″ tall.

Plant Lore:  The genus name Baptisia comes from the Greek word bapto meaning “to dye.”  Specific epithet, australis,  means southern. The common name of false indigo refers to the use of certain native baptisias by early American colonists as a substitutes for true indigo (genus Indigofera) in making dyes. Plant sap turns an inky blue color when exposed to the air. Baptisia australis was named the 2010 Perennial Plant of the Year by the Perennial Plant Association and one of the top 200 plants of the last 200 years by the Royal Horticultural Society.

Florida Hardiness Zones 8 – 9



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