Indigo Plant - Rattleweed - Baptisia australis

Plant Pick: Baptisia False Blue Indigo Plant – Rattleweed!

Do you have the Baptisia australis or the False Blue Indigo Plant in your garden?  If you don’t, you are missing one of the most beautiful and interesting perennials of all. This plant is one of my most favorite plants and I am sure you would love it too. Who wouldn’t love a brilliant blue flower and a plant that isn’t any trouble at all?

Indigo Plant - Blue False Indigo

This plant takes up a considerable amount of room in my little garden, but the payoff is worth it. Those long blue racemes blooming in the spring are such an intense blue, you have to fall in love at first sight.  Baptisia australis gets about 3-4 feet tall and spreads about the same. It is drought tolerant because of a long taproot. It does best in sun since the more shade there is, the floppier it gets.

I hate floppy. Sometimes I trim it after blooming to keep this from happening. It works a little. But after heavy rains, expect it to be lying down for a quick nap.

Rattleweed or Rattlebush - Baptisia australis - Blue False Indigo Plant

Indigo Plant used for Blue Dye

This plant is native to North America and gets its name from true wild indigo that Native Americans and early settlers used to makes dyes of deep blue.  As I referred in the video, the seed pods are large and black and present on the spikes as large rattles, so they are called rattleweed or rattlebush. I said rattlesnake plant in the video, my bad.  The seeds are poisonous ( as are many garden plants) but children play with the “rattles” sometimes.

Here are the stats on this Plant Pick:

  • Native to Eastern United States
  • Exposure: Sun
  • Height: 3 ft
  • Spread: 3 ft
  • Zone 3-9
  • Drought tolerant
  • Blooms: May-June ( a few weeks)

The False Blue Indigo Plant blooms about the same time as peonies and they make a lovely combination. If you are wanting color in your spring garden, get one of these and you will love it, I promise.

Peony in spring 2016 - blooms alongs with Indigo Plant

It is an herbaceous perennial and dies back to the ground in the cold fall weather. Be sure to make the spot and wait for something that looks like asparagus sprouts coming in the spring early. It takes about a month after the sprouts appear and you will have flowers. Perhaps there might be some you could plant now to establish before they die out for the winter?

You’ll be glad you did come spring!

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