Indigo: Wild Blue (Baptisia australis)
Named the 2010 Perennial Plant of the Year by the Perennial Plant Association,Blue Wild Indigo grows in sandy, dry areas or open woods; its deep tap root gives it protection from the drought and prairie fires of its native ground. Native Americans and early settlers once used various species of this plant family to make a blue dye, since the superior true indigo dye was expensive and not easily obtained. As a member of the nitrogen-fixing legume family, indigo makes an excellent choice for soil that needs replenishment of its nutrients. The Latin genus name “baptisia” comes from the Greek “bapto,” meaning “to dye.”
Also Known As: Desert False Indigo, Indigo Bush, Bastard Indigo, River Locust.
Ease of Growing: Moderate.
Grown as: Perennial
Maturity (Blooms): Summer
Light: Full Sun to Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Medium to Dry
Beneficial Insects?: Yes. This plant is a nectar and host plant for butterflies including orange sulphur, clouded sulphur, frosted elfin, eastern tailed blue, hoary edge, and wild indigo duskywing.
Containers?: Yes. Baptisia are best produced in large containers (one gallon or larger)
Sow Depth: 1/2"
USDA Zone: 3a-10b
Produces: a shrub-like plant with trifoliate 2” bluish green leaflets, and upright spikes of ½” purple, pea-like flowers.
Try pairing with Asclepias tuberosa, Echinacea purpurea, Eryngium yuccifolium, Rudbeckia hirta, Solidago speciosa, and Sorghastrum nutans.
Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
This native prairie biennial forms a rosette of leaves the first year, followed by flowers the second year. It is covered with hairs that give it a slightly rough texture. The Green-headed Coneflower (R. laciniata) has yellow ray flowers pointing downward, a greenish-yellow disk, and irregularly divided leaves.