Common Name:Blue Wild Indigo, False Indigo
- Leaves: Clover-like trifoliate leaves have a blue-green coloring.
- Flowers: Pea-like blossoms start as plump, tight buds. The flowers are borne on long racemes and are a vivid blue, often with flecks of cream or yellow. They are followed by seed pods which further demonstrate they are a member of the pea family. The pods persist and turn black and are often used in flower arranging.
Exposure:Full sun. Baptisia will get floppy without at least 6 hours of full sun light. Full sun also prevents fungus diseases.
Bloom Period:Late Spring - Early Summer
Since it is a large plant and it only blooms once, in early summer, be sure to put it somewhere in your garden where its foliage will continue to offer interest.
Pests and Problems:
Weevils have been know to eat and infest Baptisia seeds. This can be a big problem if you are saving the seeds to plant. Always check your seeds before bringing them indoors.
Planting Baptisia: You can start Baptisia plants from seed, but they are slow to establish and it will probably be 3 years before you see flowers. Even a young Baptisia plant will take at least 2 years to get established, before you really start seeing it bloom. On the plus side, they are very long-lived.
Baptisia seeds have a hard outer coating. If you do decide to try growing them from seed, some type of scarification will improve germination. Soaking them in hot water for at least 8 hours prior to scarifying them would be even better. Although, some gardeners have luck simply planting the seeds in the fall and allowing the winter weather to soften the seed coat.
Maintenance:Baptisia requires very little maintenance. Keep it watered regularly for the first year. Once established, Baptisia is very drought tolerant.
You can leave the spent flowers and enjoy the seed heads. The pods are attractive and jingle in the wind. However they can make the plants top heavy and prone to splitting open in the center, especially plants grown in partial shade. You can prevent this by giving your Baptisia a modest shearing after flowering.
Baptisialeaves turn an unattractive black with the first hard frost and the plants tend to collapse by mid-winter, so cutting them back in fall is usually recommended.
More on adding blue flowers to your garden.