My Baptisia in June

A lot of passersby have been asking, “What is that plant on the corner of your garden?” It’s Baptisia or False Indigo. I believe I have, Baptisia Purple Smoke, which is a cross between “Baptisia australis and White Wild Indigo, B. alba, that merges the best features of both parents in its dusky violet flowers, charcoal-colored stems, and gray-green foliage” (White Flower Farm).

I’ve been told by local gardeners it’s a very old perennial often seen in Colonial gardens. In Marblehead I’ve spotted them in borders and rock gardens. This year I put in a cage to help the plant grow upward; last summer it kinda flopped and grew out. I’m not sure if it grows up naturally or if it needs a little training? My Baptisia blooms purple flowers for about 3-4 weeks in June. By December the plant dies back down to the ground. I picked up my beauty up in Maine two summers ago. Check online here for purple and yellow varieties and here too.

p.s. tonight I’m heading to Portland, Oregon for a little blogger fun. Stay tuned for posts from the west coast starting tomorrow!

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  1. Hi Katy, I bought 2 smaller plants a few years back. They have grown so much, I had to relocate one of them otherwise it would have overtaken my garden. If yours is happy and expands, early next spring, divide the smaller stalks before they start to grow. I donated 2 plants to the Marblehead Garden Club plant sale, and they were gone in a flash. It is such a beautiful plant, and the foliage adds so much texture to the garden all summer.


  2. Good to know — I have one of these plants and didn’t know what it was (i was thinking it was sweet pea). mine isn’t floppy yet, but it’s only one or two stalks. Thanks!


  3. Hi Katy,
    I adore your blog–especially updates on your garden. I’m a gardener in the Boston area–I encounter tons of Baptisia. I never stake Baptisia-it grows upright on its own and as the season progresses, it starts to flop. I find it helpful to thin them out (cut a few stalks to the ground) to reduce the occurrence of powdery mildew (aeration) and keep plants upright. I also deadhead some of the seed pods to reduce the weight and burden on stalks. I think this also increases the longevity of the foliage. Hope this helps!
    PS-don’t give up on your Boxwood-but I am smitten with the idea of Lavender!


  4. Katy, i’m sure you’ve mentioned this before, but what camera do you use? I tried looking at your FAQ’s but no dice…thx and love your updates!


  5. Oh! Thanks for posting this! My neighbor gave me one of these a couple years ago, but couldn’t remember the name – and my half-hearted attempts to search google for “floppy plant with small purple flowers” always failed ;) It’s DEFINITELY a Baptisia! So nice to know what it is, right before we move and leave it behind…