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Yellow Wild Indigo

Baptisia tinctoria

 

Baptisia tinctoria (Yellow Wild Indigo) flowering in May

Yellow Wild Indigo is a native perennial, with texturally beautiful leaves and small yellow pea like flowers, which bloom for several weeks in mid spring. Plants grow 12 to 18 in. tall, and are rhizomatous (produce underground stems), slowly spreading to form 4 ft. wide colonies. Hardy from zones 6 through 9.

 

How to grow

Plant Yellow Wild Indigo in sun to part shade and well drained to moist soil. Once established, plants are drought tolerant and care free. Old stems can be cut back to ground level anytime during the winter.

 

Where to plant

Yellow Wild Indigo can be planted in dry to moist flower beds, where its attractive leaves will provide season long interest.

 

Wildlife attracted

Yellow Wild Indigo is a larval host plant for the Wild Indigo Dusky Wing and the Frosted Elfin, and the flowers are pollinated by bumble bees.  

 

Where found in the wild

In the coastal plain, Baptisia tinctoria occurs in sandhills, seasonally moist pine flatwoods, and along the edges of woodlands from New York south to Florida. It is common in southeastern North Carolina.

 

Source and origin

Plants are grown from seeds collected off plants growing at the edge of a woodland in Pender County, North Carolina.

 

Comments

Yellow Wild Indigo was used as source of a blue dye by Native Americans. European settlers tried to form an industry around it, which gave rise to its other common name - False Indigo. Unfortunately, the dye was inferior to the true Indigo, a tropical plant in the genus Indigofera.

 

Propagation

Pouring boiling water over the seed before sowing softens the hard seed coat, allowing seeds to germinate in one to two weeks at temperatures above 75°F (24°C). Cuttings of Yellow Wild Indigo root fairly easily, but can be difficult to overwinter.