The Baptisia plant is actually a striking perennial plant that needs minimum care and it produces a maximum results. The Baptisia plant is also known as false indigo, the Baptisia flowers were once used by Native Americans and early European settlers as a dye before true indigo became available.  


Baptisia Plant Info

The Baptisia plant is a members of the Fabaceae or pea family, the Baptisia plant distinctive pea-like blossoms also come in white (Baptisia alba) and yellow (Baptisia tinctoria) as well as the more widely known blue (Baptisia australis). There are also quite a lot of hybrid cultivars on the market today. The Baptisia plant is Native to the prairies of southern North America and the plants grow well in almost in any well-drained soil in USDA planting zones five to nine. The leaves of the plant are trifoliate (three leaflets) and it range in color from dark blue-green to light yellow-green and they can become so dense as to give the plant a shrub-like appearance. The fully mature plants can grow 2 ½ to 3 feet tall and it produce racemes or flower spikes adding another twelve to twenty-four inches to their height. Actually each of these racemes is covered with flowers and will bloom for about 6 weeks in spring or early summer. A fully mature plant can produce a 100 of these glorious spikes.


Baptisia Plant Growing Tips and Care

Baptisia plants is like prairie plants, they actually takes some time to establish their deep root system before taking off, so the first of Baptisia plants growing tips would be to have patience. It can take up to 3 years for your baptisia seeds or seedlings to produce flowers. The second of our Baptisia plants growing tips would be to choose your site carefully. Once they are planted, the plants don’t like to be moved. Their roots can grow up to twelve feet deep and a single clump can expand to three or four feet wide. When deciding how to plant false indigo for the best effect, remember that some garden plantings of these hardy perennials have been known to last for decades. False indigo needs plenty of sun and once they are established, they are extremely drought tolerant. No pruning is necessary, though some gardeners prefer to remove the dark seed pods as part of their False indigo care regimen. Others like the look of the dark pods and leave them as contrast in the garden. Beyond the first few years, False indigo care requires very little from the gardener. The Baptisia plant like a yearly dose of general garden fertilizer and they are also bothered by very few pests or diseases. For organic gardeners, these plants are gems. Alkaloids produced in the species are toxic to many insects, which leads us to the third of our Baptisia plant growing tips and it concerns the occasional caterpillar found crawling along the leaves of this plant. Care should be taken to leave them undisturbed. These prairie darlings are host plants for several species of butterfly.


How to Plant False Indigo

When offering advice on how to plant false indigo, most authorities will recommend baptisia seeds and this is, in fact, the most common method of propagation, but what they don’t mention is that fresh baptisia seeds are best and most reliable for germination.


How to Grow Baptisia from Seed

If you actually know someone who already grows Baptisia plant in their garden, don’t hesitate to ask for a few seed pods just as the pods begin to split. Check the Baptisia seeds for tiny holes – there’s a tiny weevil that attacks the Baptisia seeds but not the plant – and discard any that are damaged. Baptisia seeds can be sown directly, planting them a quarter-inch (0.5 cm.) deep, and will usually germinate in about 2 weeks. If the fresh Baptisia seeds are unavailable, how to plant Baptisia seed becomes a little more complicated. Hardened seeds should be chilled in the refrigerator for 6 to twelve weeks. The stratified (chilled) seeds must then be scarified, which means the seed coat must be worn down with sandpaper or nicked with a knife tip. The Baptisia seeds then need to be soaked in water for twenty-four hours and then planted indoors. The Baptisia seedlings can be moved to the garden after all danger of frost has passed.


Growing Baptisia from Cuttings

Baptisia can also be propagated from cuttings. You can easily take your cuttings in the early spring before new growth becomes too woody. The cuttings should be long enough to ensure that at least one set of leaf buds will be below the soil surface. Dip the cutting in rooting hormone and then plant in a loose growing medium. Keep the humidity high with a glass jar or plastic tent and the cuttings should root in about 8 weeks.

Furthermore, the Baptisia plants can be a welcome addition to any garden, formal or informal. All it takes is a little time and patience and your False indigo flowers will reward you well for years and years to come. 

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