Photo: gmayfield10 (Flickr)
A rugged perennial plant that provides striking blue flowers in a June border is “Baptisia australis” commonly known as False Indigo. It grows 2 -3 feet in full sun. It is a member of the pea family with erect lupine-type flower racemes.
There are about twenty species in the genus and all are native to North America. The botanical name, Baptisia, is from the Greek word “bapto” meaning “to dye” and the common name “false indigo” also refers to the plant’s use as a substitute for indigo dye. There is also a wild white variety and a new bi color cross, which is violet with touches of lemon yellow.
All species are drought tolerant and hard to move once they are established because they have deep taproots. Select their site with care, as the plants though slow to get established, thrive for years, eventually forming stately 3 – 4 feet clumps like little shrubs. They have clean blue-green foliage with leaflets grouped in threes, and are very useful as cut flowers.
The dark seedpods are attractive both in the garden and in dried arrangements. These plants combine well with other June bloomers such as achillea, Shasta daisies, wild geraniums, and roses. Provide some support, such as a ring for them to grow through and they will always stand erect despite summer storms.