PHOTO COURTESY STEVEN STILL/PPA
Baptisia australis has been named 2010 Perennial Plant of the Year.
Commonly called Blue False Indigo, it grows three to four feet tall and three to four feet wide in an upright habit. This exceptional perennial grows across a wide range of zones and is one of the most adaptable native species.
Newly emerging shoots produce violet-blue, lupine-like flowers in erect 10" to 12" racemes atop flower stems that extend well above the foliage mound of clover-like, trifoliate, bluish-green leaves. The spring flowers are present for three to four weeks. The flowers give way to inflated seed pods that turn charcoal black when ripe and that flower arrangers consider to be ornamental. The common name refers to the use of this perennial by early Americans as a dye.
Baptisia australis is an excellent plant to anchor the back of the border. It is also valuable for cottage gardens, native plant gardens, and native area of prairies and meadows. It is best as a specimen or planted in small groups. Blue False Indigo can be used with bulbs and other spring flowering perennials to make interesting combinations.
It thrives in full sun. Plants grown in partial shade may require staking. It is easily grown in well-drained soil and is drought tolerant after establishment.