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

Culture

Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Best in full sun. Tolerates drought and poor soils. Over time, plants develop slowly expanding clumps with deep and extensive root systems, and should not be disturbed once established. Plants take on more of a shrubby appearance and tend to open up after bloom. Trimming or shearing foliage after bloom generally helps maintain a rounded plant appearance and obviates a possible need for staking. New plantings may take several years to establish, but are of easy culture thereafter. ‘Carolina Moonlight’ does not come true from seed and should be propagated by division in late fall or early spring.

Noteworthy Characteristics

‘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'. 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.

Problems

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.