Wild Indigo

Baptisia tinctora

Fabaceae - Pea Family

Baptisia tinctoria is a common perennial native to eastern North America. “Wild Indigo” (as it is commonly called) can be found from its northern boundary in southeastern Canada, south to Florida, and west to Louisiana.1 It requires little water, a fair amount of sun, and sandy or loamy soil. Wild Indigo can grow as tall as 3 ft, and blooms from May to September.1
Wild Indigo is reported to have many medicinal purposes. Ingesting it may boost the immune system, but caution is encouraged because large quantities may be toxic.2
For gardening purposes, it is recommended that the shrubs are pruned after the blooms begin to die away to discourage the formation of seed pods. Gardeners should be careful not to over-water the plant, as standing water can cause root rot and kill the plant. A rule of thumb is to allow the soil to dry 1-2 inches below the ground between waterings. Generally, Wild Indigo requires little care; but it is recommended that if gardeners observe insect activity they should treat the plant with a spray or soap to prevent aphid or mite problems.3
Wild Indigo attracts butterflies; it is both a larval host and nectar source for the Frosted Elfin and Wild Indigo Duskywing.1

References and Useful Websites:

1 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - University of Texas
2 Plants for a Future
3 Garden Guides

This page was prepared by Matthew Morris, BIO 102, Fall 2011

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