How to Grow Baptisia Australis

Baptisia Australis perennials are rugged and easy to grow.  Their lupine-like spires of bloom are real attention getters and they have season long interest from foliage too.   They are also often referred to as wild indigo. Baptisia Australis will grow into a really large shrub in just a few seasons. Find out how to grow it.

Baptisia Australis is Easy to Grow

I have transplanted divisions of my original small plant many times in my garden and now have several really large bushes of it in many of my garden beds.  It grows into a full size shrub in no time at all.

Most people grow Baptisia for their eye catching flowers, which come in white, blue, yellow and purple, but flowers are only part of their appeal. They are tough, almost completely pest and disease free and have a long season of interest even after the flowers are gone.

The bees and butterflies just love it. And even the hummers can’t seem to resist the lovely flowers.


Baptisia is a large plant and it will only bloom once – in the early summer, so be sure to put it somewhere in your garden where the foliage will offer interest later in the year.

Wild indigo - Baptista

Follow these growing tips for a carefree perennial:

  • Baptisia prefers a dry soil and does not particularly worry about the soil pH, although it seems to like soil that is at least somewhat acidic.  (great planted near azaleas, and hydrangeas which also love acid soil.)
  • You can start Baptisia from seed, but they are somewhat slow to flower, so division or small plants are a better way to go.  Divisions will show some shock at first but the plants soon pick up if you just prune them after you divide and replant.  They have tap roots, so can be a bit tricky to divide.
  • They are very long lived plants but will spread into quite large bushes, so be sure to keep an eye on this and divide as necessary.  A mature bush can get to 3 or 4 feet tall and wide.
  • Deadheading this plant is not necessary which saves a lot of time in the garden.
  • Flowers are unlikely to appear until the third season but the foliage is very interesting.
  • Baptisia can be propagated from cuttings rather than division.
  • Water regularly the first year but, once established, the plants are very drought tolerant. I rarely water mine here in NC.
  • Give the plants a good pruning after flowering (best done in the fall) so they do not get too top heavy.

The Perennial Plant Association named Baptisia Australis, or False blue indigo, the plant of the year in 2010.

Baptista Australis is a drought tolerant perennial with long season interest.

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  6 comments for “How to Grow Baptisia Australis

  1. Sheila
    06/21/2015 at 1:56 pm

    Can you explain how to propagate false indigo from cuttings? When should this be done? Does it take a long time for cuttings to root, grow, and bloom?

    • admin
      06/21/2015 at 2:10 pm

      Hi Sheila. I normally propagate this plant from divisions since this is a super easy to do it. If you don’t have a plant but can get some cuttings, it will take. To propagate them, take 1- to 2-inch tip cuttings from semi-soft or soft growth during late spring or early summer. Dip the cuttings in a powdered rooting hormone and place them pots in a well draining sterilized rooting medium in a shady area. They need high humidity to take.Enclose the pots in clear plastic and insert stakes to keep the plastic from touching cuttings. Mist the foliage once a day, if you can. Pot the cuttings up after they have rooted—which generally takes about four weeks.

  2. Ellen Doerr
    06/06/2018 at 4:54 pm

    I want to know if Baptista, or false blue indigo can grow in the presence of juglone from a mature black walnut tree. Thx

    • Carol
      06/07/2018 at 10:19 am

      Hi Ellen. False indigo is one of many plants that can be affected by juglone. Rhubarb, tomatoes, peonies, lilies, asparagus, blueberry, columbine, mums and cabbage are others. These plants should not be planted near black walnuts, as they will grow poorly and may die. Carol

  3. sophie maziarz
    07/23/2019 at 9:57 am

    will a hosta root from a leave cutting?

    • Carol
      07/23/2019 at 12:48 pm

      Yes, you can root hosta from leaf cuttings but you have to cut the leaf with a bit of the root attached, and a few small roots is better. Put the leaf with roots in water, change the water frequently until there are enough roots growing to pot up the leaf.

      This is not the best way to propagate hostas. Division is best.

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