Baptisia 'Purple Smoke'

Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’: A Captivating False Indigo with Smoky Violet Blooms

Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’, also known as False Indigo ‘Purple Smoke’, is a remarkable shrubby perennial that adds a touch of enchantment to any garden. This hybrid cultivar, resulting from a cross between Baptisia australis and Baptisia alba, showcases stunning smoky violet flowers reminiscent of lupines. With its attractive gray-green foliage and ornamental seed pods, ‘Purple Smoke’ offers year-round interest. In this article, we will delve into the characteristics and cultivation of this captivating False Indigo variety.


Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’ typically grows to a height of 3 to 4.5 feet, forming a shrubby and densely branched perennial. The plant features long spikes of smoky violet flowers that resemble lupines, showcasing its lineage from Baptisia australis. These striking flowers open from bottom to top in erect, slightly arching terminal racemes that can reach up to 1 foot in length. Complementing the beautiful blooms, the foliage of ‘Purple Smoke’ resembles clover, displaying a gray-green coloration.

The charcoal-colored stems add further visual interest to the overall plant appearance. Additionally, the cylindrical seed pods, measuring approximately 2.5 inches long, provide a decorative element and can even be used in dried flower arrangements. With its alluring flowers, attractive foliage, and intriguing seed pods, ‘Purple Smoke’ is a show-stopping addition to any landscape. Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’ belongs to the family Fabaceae, also known as the legume or pea family. This family is one of the largest plant families, comprising a wide variety of plants including trees, shrubs, and herbaceous perennials.

Cultivation of Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’:

To ensure the optimal growth and vibrancy of Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’, specific care guidelines should be followed. The following subsections provide detailed instructions for successful cultivation:

Sunlight: Plant ‘Purple Smoke’ in an area that receives full sun to part shade. While it can tolerate some shade, full sun exposure is preferable for optimal flowering and overall plant health.

Watering: This False Indigo variety thrives in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils. It exhibits good drought tolerance once established. Water the plant regularly during its establishment phase, and then reduce watering as it becomes more established.

Soil:Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’ prefers acidic, somewhat poor soils. It can adapt to various soil types, including poorer soils, making it a versatile addition to different garden settings. Ensure the soil is well-drained to prevent waterlogging and potential root rot.

Pest and Disease: Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’ is relatively resistant to pests and diseases. Its unpalatable nature makes it less appealing to rabbits and deer, minimizing the risk of damage from these animals.

Propagation: Propagation of ‘Purple Smoke’ can be achieved through cuttings, as this hybrid cultivar will not come true from seed. Taking cuttings from established plants ensures the propagation of desirable traits and characteristics.

Additional Information:

  • ‘Purple Smoke’ belongs to the Fabaceae family and is classified as a herbaceous perennial.
  • It is recommended for growing zones 4 to 9, showcasing its adaptability to a wide range of climates.
  • The blooming period of ‘Purple Smoke’ occurs from April to May when the smoky violet flowers grace the garden with their beauty.
  • This False Indigo variety thrives in full sun to part shade conditions, making it suitable for various light exposures.
  • ‘Purple Smoke’ displays a moderate growth rate, reaching a height and spread of 3 to 4 feet, forming a dense and bushy mound.
  • Its low maintenance requirements and resistance to drought and erosion contribute to its ease of cultivation.

By following these cultivation guidelines, you can enjoy the captivating allure of Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’ in your garden. Its striking flowers, attractive foliage, and ornamental seed pods make it an excellent choice for beds, borders, cottage gardens, prairies, and native plant landscapes. Whether as a specimen plant or in small groups, ‘Purple Smoke’ is sure to leave a lasting impression with its unique and captivating presence.

Baptisia 'Purple Smoke'
Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’ at Brooklyn Botanic Garden

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