My wild blue indigo has many seed pods. Can I harvest these and grow new plants from the seed? Are there special tricks to germinating baptisia?
Answer: Yes, you can collect and sow the seeds of your wild or false blue indigo (Baptisia australis), though propagating this beautiful, blue-flowered perennial from seed can take patience. Once established, Baptisia australis is one of the longest-lived perennials around, so your patience will really pay off in the long run.
To collect the seed of wild blue indigo, wait until the seed pods turn black and begin to open on their own, or at least rattle when shaken. At this point remove the pods from their stalks, open them fully and pull the seeds from the pods. The seeds are round and relatively large (compared to many other seeds), so they’re easy to handle. Viable seed will be brown or black in color, round and very hard.
Fresh indigo seed germinates fairly easily. You can sow it in the fall just after you collect it. If you’d rather wait, store it in the refrigerator, and when you’re ready to sow it soak it in water for 24 hours first (starting with hot water). If you sow Baptisia australis seed in pots, start with 4-inch pots so the seedlings can develop some before needing to be transplanted. This is a tap-rooted perennial that does not much enjoy being transplanted. Seedlings can take three or four years before they flower, but after that this is a reliable, easy-to-grow perennial that can persist for decades.
Learn techniques for collecting, storing and starting the seed of over 300 plants in The Compete Guide to Saving Seeds.
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Get packs of 5 classic annual flowers in the Heirloom Cottage Garden Seed Collection.