False indigo, the Baptisia species

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Gardeners love the beautiful blue false indigo, Baptisia australis. Yet there are many other species and exciting new hybrids in a broad color range. 

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A potpourri (below) of false indigo/Baptisia species information as a supplement to other articles.

A plant-based page rather than our usual topic-based page. It's a pivot point where you'll find one set of links to ours and others' articles that involve false indigo/Baptisia. (Go to those links now!)

False indigo Potpourri

In both its species and varieties, we love it. Spend a minute getting to know it so you can put it in place, give it plenty of room to grow, and leave it for a lifetime.

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Above: Straight species Baptisia australis, detail and size at bloom time (it bulks up about 1/3 more, post-bloom).

Below, the hybrid 'Twilight Prairie Blues.' (Photo  ©2012 PerennialResource.com),


Dividing false indigo

Frequently asked: Is it true you should "never disturb this plant, it resents moving"?

We think that's a corruption of handed down advice that probably once read, "Put this plant where you know it will have room because you will not want to do all the work to move it, later."  We don't think false indigo should never be disturbed but we do agree that it's better for us, the gardeners, to aim to simply let them be. For instance: The photos below of dividing an established Baptisia are 15 years old. In all the years since we have divided only small plants because a) we'd rather not do so much work and b) the plants do not require division to remain vigorous.


We dug out this false indigo that was about 10 years old because the bed was becoming too shady and also we needed some divisions. It took almost 90 minutes to dig it out, even though we took the short cut of severing a lot of the roots that went wider and deeper than we cared to go.

The clump of roots you see below, left, is 1/3 of the clump we lifted. Janet obtained this piece for a portrait by slicing the overall clump into three parts, using the same technique you see her applying (below, right) as she further reduces one of those three.

Yes, that's a saw she's using. These are very woody crowns. We made about 12 pieces from the original. All of them lived, and we did nothing special to make that happen.

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