Indigofera decora f. alba

Common Name: Chinese indigo 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Fabaceae
Native Range: Japan, central China
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to July
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy


Grow in average, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun. Tolerates alkaline soils and some drought. Intolerant of the hot and humid summers of the deep South. Plants may suffer some tip damage or die to the ground in harsh winters, but should come back nicely. Blooms on new growth. Several pruning options exist. As with buddlejas, this plant may be grown in the manner of an herbaceous perennial in USDA Zones 5 and 6A by cutting back all stems close to the ground in late winter to early spring each year before new growth appears. Also often needs a similar hard pruning in warmer climates to maintain good form. Another option is to simply prune stems back to live wood in early spring of each year.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Indigofera decora forma alba (sometimes commonly called white Chinese indigo) is a white-flowered form of the species (Chinese indigo). Species flowers are pink. Alba is a dense, suckering shrub or subshrub which typically grows 1-1 1/2' tall and spreads to 6' or more. Features dense, axillary racemes (to 8" long) of white, pea-like flowers which bloom heavily in June and July and sometimes continue intermittently to September. Compound pinnate leaves (to 3" long), each with 7-13 elliptic, medium green leaflets. Synonymous with Indigofera incarnata 'Alba'. A separate species, Indigofera tinctoria, is the species that has been used for many years to produce indigo dyes.

Genus name comes from indigo plus Latin fero meaning to bear. The dye indigo is obtained from this genus.

Specific epithet means decorative.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Mixed borders or foundation plantings. Effective as a shrubby ground cover for slopes, sunny woodland areas or cottage gardens.