Blue false indigo

Blue false indigo


Blue false indigo

Don't ask me why, but I never seem to run out of blue. I think blue must be my favorite color. But it has been for eons.Blue False Indigo (Baptisia australis) is a large bush-like perennial, with dense clusters of deep blue flowers on long upright spikes. In its first few years this long-lived plant develops mostly below ground. After the first two seasons the blooms are increasingly showy as the plant matures. Attractive bluish-green foliage provides a good backdrop to other flowering plants. An excellent specimen plant for formal designs, Baptisia australis is beautiful in naturalized settings, as well. Because of its wide, branching form, generous spacing is advisable. The tough rootstock can be divided in fall or spring when the plant is dormant.


Every year the Perennial Plant Association chooses a plant of the year. For 2010 this is Baptisia australis, or blue false indigo. This long-lived perennial legume, hardy in zones 3 to 9, has long been a favorite, although underused, garden plant. Native to eastern North American prairies, meadows, open woods and along streams, blue false indigo got its common name because it was once used as a substitute for true indigo (Indigofera tinctoria, native to southern Asia) which was used to make blue dye. Other common names include blue wild indigo, indigo weed, rattleweed, rattlebush and horse fly weed. B. australis was used medicinally by Native Americans as a purgative, to treat tooth aches and nausea, and as an eyewash.

Foot-long, lupine-like spires of blue, pealike flowers are produced in mid to late spring, about a month after the leaves emerge. The individual flowers in these terminal racemes are about an inch long. The color ranges from pale to intense indigo blue, with white cultivars as well. Flowering lasts for just 2-3 weeks. The stems also make a good cut flower. False indigo is a large, upright perennial with leaves that are grey-green and beautiful long racemes of indigo-blue flowers that appear in April through June. The pea-like flowers are followed by black seed pods that can be left on the plant for winter interest. With its stately shape, false indigo makes a good architectural statement in the garden even after the flowers have faded. When started from nursery plants, false Indigo takes only about a year to reach its full height, but plants started from seed can take three to four years to flower. False indigo is generally planted in spring after danger of frost has passed. (Source: www.thespruce.com)



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