Plant Type
Sunlight Amount
Baptisia Starlite Prairieblues
Credit: Denny Schrock
Baptisia Starlite Prairieblues


Commonly known as false indigo, this rugged native prairie plant features tall spires of colorful blooms along with attractive blue-green foliage. The flowers resemble those of peas or beans, which are related. Once the blooms have faded, they are followed by large clusters of showy seed pods that dry out as they mature and create a rattling noise in the breeze.

genus name
  • Baptisia
  • Part Sun
  • Sun
plant type
  • 1 to 3 feet
  • 3 to 8 feet
  • From 2 to 5 feet
flower color
foliage color
season features
problem solvers
special features
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8

Colorful Combinations

Originally, most baptisia plants produced flowers in shades of blue. Now, gardeners can find varieties that flower in shades of white, pink, yellow, red, and chocolate brown, as well as in bi-color combinations. False indigo's blue-green foliage looks appealing year-round.

Baptisia Care Must-Knows

Plant false indigo in well-drained soil and full sun for the most impressive flower display. This perennial tolerates part shade, but can end up with weak stems that require staking for support. Once each plant gets established, it can withstand droughts without much supplemental watering, thanks to a deep, extensive root system. The bad news is this root system with its long tap root makes it challenging to transplant baptisia.

The good news is that baptisia needs little maintenance. Cut the plant back to the ground after the first frost in fall or before new growth emerges in the spring. Some of the newer varieties grow large enough to resemble shrubs; trim them back to about a third of the original size after blooming to keep them looking tidy.

New Innovations

Baptisia began to gain popularity in the early 2000s when some of the first interspecific hybrids brought new palettes of color and more compact habits. Today, breeders are working to develop additional varieties with bicolor blossoms.

More Varieties of Baptisia

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Baptisia australis
Credit: Susan Gilmore

Baptisia australis

Baptisia australis has blue-green foliage that is attractive even when not in bloom and, because of its size (3-4 feet tall), makes an excellent shrub substitute. Zones 3-9

Baptisia australis minor
Credit: Denny Schrock

Lesser Baptisia

Baptisia australis minor is a smaller version of baptisia, growing to only 2 feet tall and blooming slightly later. Zones 3-9

Baptisia Purple Smoke
Credit: Bob Stefko

'Purple Smoke' Baptisia

Baptisia 'Purple Smoke' is an older variety with smoky violet flowers held loosely above gray-green foliage. Zones 4-9

Baptisia Companion Plants

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