Baptisia australis

Departments - Culture

A how-to production guide

August 6, 2009

 Baptisia australis produces bright indigo blue flowers on 12-inch long stems. Photo courtesy of Walters Gardens.


Walters Gardens offers #1 bare-root plants which have five to eight eyes that can finish in 1-gallon containers in as little as seven weeks.


Baptisia australis (blue false indigo) is the Perennial Plant Association’s 2010 Perennial Plant of the Year. This long-lived native North American species is common to prairies and meadows. Walters Gardens in Zeeland, Mich., said the plant is easy to grow and is an interesting plant year-round. The shrub-like plants reach 3-4 feet tall and wide and can be used as a specimen plant or placed in small groupings. In mid- to late spring it produces 12-inch long spires of indigo blue flowers above the plant’s soft trifoliate blue-green foliage. The spent flowers are replaced by 2-3 inch long, puffy green seed pods. These pods turn black as they ripen in the summer and early fall and remain on the plants into winter. The pods can be dried for use in floral arrangements. Plants are hardy to USDA Hardiness Zones 3-9.

Walters Gardens offers #1 bare-root plants, which have five to eight eyes that fill out 1-gallon containers. Walters used to grow the starter plants as plugs, but found that they grew much better in the field for production as bare-root plants.

Plant the bare root with the crown just below the soil surface. Use a well-drained commercial growing medium with a pH of 5.7-6.2 and electrical conductivity of 2.0-3.0 (pour-thru method). Maintain a day temperature of 68°F-70°F and night temperature of 50°F-58°F. Water the medium well and increase the watering as the foliage emerges. Maintain dry to medium moisture levels.

Once new leaves emerge, apply a water soluble fertilizer at a rate of 50-100 parts per million nitrogen at each or every other watering.

Growers who purchase the freshly dug bare-root plants in the fall for planting will need to vernalize the plants. These plants are typically allowed to go dormant during the winter and vernalized at this time. Growers who purchase bare-root plants in the spring will receive plants that have received a vernalization treatment.
Disease problems include leaf spots and powdery mildew (Erysiphe and Microsphaera), rust (Puccinia) and root rots.

In trials at Walters Gardens, plants produced from #1 bare root grown in 1-gallon containers at a day and night temperature of 69°F-70°F with no supplemental lighting finished in seven weeks.

For more: Walters Gardens, (888) 925-8377, www.waltersgardens .com


Spent flowers are replaced by puffy green seed pods that turn black as they ripen and remain on the plants into winter.
Name: Baptisia australis

Crop timing: Plants started from #1 bare root plants grown in 1-gallon containers finished in seven weeks when day and night temperatures were maintained at 69°F-70°F. Plants usually take eight to 12 weeks to finish depending on production conditions.

Grower benefits: Easy to grow, no major insect problems, versatile plant for use in specimen containers or the landscape.