The botanical name of Indigo plant is Indigofera tinctoria and the common name is called true indigo or simply just indigo. The Indigo plant is probably the most famous and widespread dye plant in the world. Currently the cultivation of Indigo plant has fallen somewhat out of favor due to the invention of synthetic dyes. However, the plant is still a wonderfully useful plant and is very much worth growing for the adventurous gardener and home dyer. Just continue reading to learn more about growing the indigo plants in your garden.  

The Indigofera is actually a genus of over seven hundred and fifty species of plants, many of which go by the common name “indigo.” It is actually Indigofera tinctoria, however, that gives indigo color, so named for the deep blue dye it produces, which has been used for thousands of years. The Indigo plant is thought to be native to Asia or northern Africa, but it’s difficult to be sure, since it’s has been in cultivation since at least 4,000 BCE, long before good gardening records were being kept. It has since been naturalized the world over, including the American South, where the plant was a very popular crop in colonial times.  

Currently, Indigofera tinctoria isn’t grown nearly as extensively, as it has been overtaken by synthetic dyes. As with other indigo plant varieties, the plant however, it’s still an interesting addition to the home garden.


How to Grow Indigofera Tinctoria

Indigofera tinctoria care is relatively simple. The Indigo plant is hardy in USDA zones ten and eleven, where it grows as an evergreen. The Indigo plant prefers fertile, well-drained soil, moderate moisture, and full sun, except in very hot climates, where it appreciates some afternoon shade. A medium shrub, the indigo plant will grow to two to three feet in height and spread. In the summer the plant actually produces attractive pink or purple flowers. It is actually the Indigo plant’s leaves that are used to make the blue dye, although they are naturally green and it must go through an involved extraction process first.   

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