False Indigo Tree

Growth Facts

False Indigo

Baptisia australis
Plenty of stately, cobalt-blue flower spikes for you and the hummingbirds.

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Blue False Indigo will put an end to the myth that hummingbirds only like red flowers. Its glorious, cobalt-blue spikes are a magnet for hummers in the sweet, mild days of late spring. You’ll enjoy watching their aeronautics from your patio. You’ll love the blossoms yourself, too—fragrant, tall columns of pea-like flowers that are perfect for cutting. They are produced in such abundance that you can snip a hearty bouquet and still have plenty left for the hummers. The charcoal-black seedpods that follow are also cool in arrangements. Equally at home in wildflower meadows and on formal estates, Blue False Indigo brings its natural charms to gardens of all types.

Growth Facts

The Story

Grow a piece of American history! Blue False Indigo was the first subsidized agricultural crop grown on American soil. For a long time, the British obtained dark blue dye from the True Indigo plant, which is a tropical plant that probably originated in India. However, when supplies of True Indigo couldn’t keep up with demand in the 1700s, Colonists looked to the False Blue Indigo plant, which grows wild from Pennsylvania to Georgia and west to what is now Nebraska. False Blue Indigo produces an inferior, lighter blue dye, but it was good enough to make the plant one of the Colonies’ biggest exports in the mid-1700s. In its heyday, over a million pounds were shipped out per year!

The Details

Blue False Indigo has begun to receive the respect it deserves as a garden superstar. Because this tough, easy-to-grow Spirit has hardly any pest or disease issues, can be grown in many parts of the country, and looks good in spring, summer, and fall, the Perennial Plant Association chose it as their Perennial Plant of the Year in 2010. Kudos!

How to Grow

Give Blue False Indigo a site in full sun. While it will tolerate part shade, growth may be floppy there. If your plant does get floppy, shearing it after the blooms have faded will keep it more compact, though doing so will sacrifice the fun seedpods. Any kind of soil is suitable, provided it drains well. Blue False Indigo develops thick, deep roots, which allow it to survive periods of drought. Because of its taproot, however, it’s extremely difficult to transplant, so leave it in place once it’s in the ground. This big, bold Spirit takes a few seasons to bulk up and really strut its stuff—be patient!

Size Guide

Size Guide Scale


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False Indigo Tree