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Baptisia – Yellow False Indigo Carolina Moonlight

Categories:Attracts Butterflies Drought Tolerant Native Plants Perennials

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Yellow false indigo Carolina Moonlight’s flowers are as close to the color of butter as I have seen. Of course, there are also those pea-like leaves so familiar to lovers of false indigo.

False Indigo Carolina Moonlight is a native perennial that begins blooming in April, May or June depending on where you live and garden.

Baptisia Carolina Moonlight
Carolina Moonlight false indigo’s flowers are the color of butter.

What a spectacular perennial in the garden Carolina Moonlight is. I always regarded yellow false indigo as a distant third to blue false indigo (Baptisia australis) and white (Baptisia alba). No more.

Baptisia Carolina Moonlight is easy to grow

It was introduced in 2002 and discovered by Rob Gardener, the former curator of native plants at the North Carolina Botanical Garden. The butter-colored flowers are approximately 18″ and extremely sturdy. The yellow false indigo I have seen in the past is a lovely plant, but slightly vivid for my own garden. The beauty of Baptisia Carolina Moonlight is in the softness of the yellow.

The Missouri Botanical Garden indicates that Baptisia may need staking as it gets larger. I do not disagree with their experience but will say that I have never staked a Baptisia. The stalks are normally very sturdy. Mature plants grow in a strong upright manner three to four feet tall.

All of the false indigos are ridiculously easy to grow. They are drought tolerant and they are tough. Good garden soil is recommended, but you can get by with thinner and less fertile soil if you must.

I have a blue false indigo that I cut down very early every year to make space for later emerging perennials. I do not have a lot of space in the garden and if there is one charge I would level at all of the false indigos it is they sprawl all over the place for months after they have finished blooming.

By cutting the blue false indigo early I am robbing it of its very important growing season. Every year that blue false indigo comes up and flowers like a champ.

baptisia carolina moonlight
Baptisia Carolina Moonlight is a tough native garden perennial that flowers early.

Carolina Moonlight False Indigo does not come true to seed.

Some of our best native plants spread freely (yet not overwhelmingly) around the garden (American columbine comes immediately to mind). Not so with Carolina Moonlight. If you want more of this hybrid yellow false indigo you will need to either divide it after a few years or buy additional plants.

Carolina Moonlight is hardy USDA zones 4-9. Baptisia tolerates partial shade but will flower most prolifically in full sun. If I could time it (and I can) so that Carolina Moonlight was in sun right until about fifteen minutes before I got home that would be perfect. Baptisia in all its colors is a plant made for glowing in the early evening garden.

By the way, the extraordinary nursery Goodness Grows calls their stock of plants ‘yellow wild indigo Carolina Moonlight’.Carolina Moonlight false indigo garden perennial


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