Baptisia alba (Pendula Group)
Common Name: false indigo
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Fabaceae
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to July
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Butterflies
Fruit: Showy
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 form slowly expanding clumps with deep and extensive root systems, and should not be disturbed once established. Difficult to grow from seed and slow to establish. Plants take on more of a shrubby appearance and tend to open up after bloom. Trimming or shearing foliage after bloom helps maintain rounded plant appearance and obviates any need for staking, but may eliminate many of the developing seed pods which are so attractive.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Baptisia alba commonly called white false indigo, is an upright perennial which typically grows 2-3’ tall and occurs in dry woods from Tennessee and North Carolina to Florida. It features small, white, pea-like flowers (to 1/2” long) in erect racemes (to 12”) atop dark flower stems extending well above a foliage mound of clover-like, trifoliate, bluish-green leaves (leaflets to 2” long). Blooms in spring. Flowers give way to inflated seed pods (to 1 3/4” long) which turn brown to black when ripe and have considerable ornamental interest. Stems with seed pods are valued additions to dried flower arrangements.

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

Specific epithet means white.

Pendula Group is virtually identical in appearance to Baptisia alba except the seed capsules of the former are pendulous and of the latter are upright. Nomenclature for this plant is somewhat confusing. It is varyingly listed by authorities and nurseries as Baptisia pendula, Baptisia alba 'Pendula', Baptisia alba var. pendula, Baptisia alba, Baptisia alba var. alba and Baptisia alba (Pendula Group).

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

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