Blue Wild Indigo is a Garden Superstar
Are you looking for the perfect plant for your sunny garden? Do you want one that requires very little maintenance, grows in a variety of soil types, attracts pollinators, flowers for a long time, behaves well in the garden, looks great with others, AND is beautiful? Then look no further. Blue wild indigo and its kin, are the plants for you.
Baptisia australis, also called blue wild and blue false indigo, and its close relatives, B. pendula and B. alba (white), and B. sphaerocarpa (yellow) are native from New York to Georgia and west to Nebraska and Texas where they occur in thin open woods and prairies in both moist and dry, and rocky soils which are always well drained and on the acidic side. Poor soil is no problem. Bumble bees pollinate them, and it is the sole/required food for wild indigo duskywing butterfly caterpillars. Although in the wild, the different species do not occur together, when grown in your garden, they interbreed easily and can produce beautiful hybrids. The blue, white, and yellow species are the originators of dozens of named cultivars.
Give this very tolerant group of perennials full sun and average, well-drained soil for a rewarding garden display. They are long-lived and develop a huge deep root system so plant them in a permanent spot. It may take several seasons for them to really get going. Once established however, expect your wild indigos to last for years. Mature heights vary by species and variety but they all bloom in late spring/early summer for several weeks with elegant, elongate flower spikes that emerge like giant asparagus stalks, and then are crowded with lupine-like flowers . Flower colors range from rich dark blue/purple, to light blue, to yellow and white, and everything in between. They are truly beautiful. For the rest of the summer, clumps are sturdy and erect. Hard seedpods are decorative in the fall. After a few good frosts, stems break off neatly at soil level, and all is done. No need to chop and haul off old stems.
In our display garden, blue, yellow, and white indigos are in full glorious flower at the same time as various bluestars, Dianthus Firewitch, Phlox Morris Berd, Rozanne geranium, dwarf red buckeye, and blue-eyed grass. It is such a beautiful time in the garden! These colors work so well together. After flowering, baptisia clumps stand nicely in the garden neither flopping nor wandering. Since they are so long lived, give them a little room, 3-4’ at least, so they won’t feel crowded when mature. Blue wild indigo and its beautiful varieties will quickly become your favorite. They are just about the easiest and most beautiful perennials you could ever want for your sunny garden.