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Commonly known as false indigo, this rugged native prairie plant features tall spires of colorful blooms along with attractive blue-green foliage. Flowers are followed by large clusters of showy seed pods that dry out as they mature and create a rattling noise in the breeze.
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Part Sun, Sun
From 1 to 8 feet
From 2 to 5 feet
garden plans for Baptisia
Early on, most baptisia plants produced flowers in shades of blue. Today 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. This plant resembles purple blush asparagus shoots as it emerges from the ground in spring.
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 a floppy plant that requires 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—means baptisia does not like to be transplanted.
The good news is 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 1/3 of the original size after blooming to keep them looking maintained.
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.