Height: 36 inches (taller in warmer gardens)
Distance Apart: 36 inches
Hardiness: USDA 3- 9 – performs well in a wide range
Blooom Time: May or early summer
Sun: full sun to light shade
Important note: This plant is very slow to grow and will take upwards of three years to hit maturity.
Planting: Put it where you want it and try not to move it. It has a deep taproot and doesn’t like to be moved. Left in one place it will survive for many years without dividing.
This plant is simply spectacular when mature but it does take a while to grow. Beginners tend to plant them too closely together; a mature clump can reach 3-4 feet across without difficulty if in a good garden soil.
Because this plant has a deep taproot, you really don’t want to try dividing it. You’ll make it very unhappy. Instead transplant seedlings (it produces scads of seed every year) that self-sow around the base of the plant. Transplant them early in the spring of their first year and they’ll do well (they’ll germinate in year one – transplant them in year two) If you try transplanting them when very tiny, they do die quickly. We had to work out specific methods in the starter greenhouse to avoid disturbing the young seedling roots (grew in large plugs). Year Two seedlings move quickly and easily even though those roots are large – you can even move a year one seedling in the fall. Once you get to larger plants, the only time you want to consider moving them is when you want to put them in the compost pile.
The instructions say that part shade will grow this plant and it will but it will tend to be floppy. So put it in your sunniest spot. If it flops you’re not giving it enough sunshine or you’re watering/feeding it too much.
Baptisia is indeed drought tolerant but do understand that even though it may survive a drought, it’s not going to be happy in one. And flower production will be reduced.
The name of the genus, Baptisia, is derived from the An- cient Greek word bapto, meaning to dip … or immerse, while specific epithet, australis, is Latin for southern. he common name, blue false indigo, refers to the use of this perennial by early Americans as a dye, albeit an inferior one, similar to the true indigo (genus Indigofera of the West Indies).
B. australis produces a 12-inch tall spike of flowers that resemble lupins. The color is an intense violet-blue (gorgeous plant) They will last 3-4 weeks and then produce seed pods that resemble bean pods.
It doesn’t need it for the most part. If it does, see above re flopping.