Baptisia 'Carolina Moonlight'
Common Name: false indigo
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Fabaceae
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 3.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 4.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Drought, Erosion, Dry Soil


Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Best in full sun in acidic, somewhat poor soils. Good drought tolerance. Plant develops a large taproot and is best left undisturbed once established. Plants tend to open up after flowering and may need support as the summer progresses. Foliage may be cut back after flowering to form compact bushy plants which remain attractive for the remainder of the growing season without staking, however the showy seed pods will be lost if this is done. Plants usually take 3 years to establish, but are of easy culture thereafter.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Baptisia is a genus of about 20 species of herbaceous perennials growing mainly in dry woodland and grassland areas of eastern and southern U.S. Often found growing in dry, gravelly soils they are deep-rooted plants with good drought tolerance. The showy terminal flower spikes are followed by inflated seed pods.

Genus name comes from the Greek word bapto meaning to dye.

The common name of false indigo refers to the use of certain native baptisias by early Americans as a substitutes, albeit inferior, for true indigo (genus Indigofera of the West Indies) in making dyes.

‘Carolina Moonlight’ is an upright perennial (B. sphaerocarpa x B.alba) that typically grows to 3-4’ tall. It features a spectacular spring bloom of butter yellow, lupine-like flowers in erect racemes (to 18”) atop flower spikes extending well above the foliage mound of clover-like, trifoliate, bluish-green leaves (leaflets to 2” long). On species plants, spent flowers give way to inflated seed pods (to 2.5” long) which turn charcoal black when ripe and have considerable ornamental interest. It is unknown at this time what kind of seed development will occur with the hybrid ‘Carolina Moonlight'.


No serious insect or disease problems. Taller plants may need support, particularly when grown in part shade locations.

Garden Uses

Borders, cottage gardens, prairies and meadows. Effective in naturalized settings. Best as a specimen or in small groups.