Louis Raymond experiments in his own gardens like

a mad scientist, searching out plants that most people have

never seen before & figuring out how to make them perform.- The Boston Globe

…Louis Raymond ensures that trees can grow in Brooklyn…

or just about any other place where concrete consumes

the dirt and skyscrapers shield the sunshine.- USA Today

 
 

NEW Trips to Take!

Myrtle's easy when the conditions are right.

 
 
 
 

NEW Plants to Try!

Louis tries to capture the exact words to describe the fleeting but deep pleasures to be found in these Summer-into-Autumn incredibles.

 
 
 
 

New Gardening to Do!

Allergic to bees? You can still have an exciting garden, full of flowers and color and wildlife.

 
 
 
 

Plant Profiles

Pink Indigo

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I love my Pink Indigo—not least because it's so delicate and modest people can't believe I'd grow it at all, what with my (admittedly) far more obvious addiction to plants that are winning by a nose in the competition to be more bodacious than Dolly Parton. 

 

Delicate and modest, though, helps accentuate all the bigness and bodaciousity around it.  And also, Pink Indigo doesn't quit blooming the entire Summer.  Early June through September, there it is, delicate and modest.  And pink, oh yes.  But hey, with a pair of way-big Pink Borders to fill, that's just fine.

 

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The new stems keep growing all season, with another spike of flowers every time each each grows another of its ferny leaves.

 

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Because the growth at the stem tips is so fast, it outpaces the flower spikes by a foot or more, adding yet another facet of delicacy and modesty to this plant's display.  So the flowers are always a bit filigreed by the fresh-green new foliage, bringing a literal depth to the floral display that's entirely missing from plants whose flowers are only out at the tips of the growth, shamelessly pandering for your attention.

 

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Delicate and modest.  Pink and not shameless about it—or ashamed of it, either.  And doing it all for four months, even more if you're gardening South of the Mason Dixon.  Definitely, a lot to love here.

 

 

Here's how to grow this hardworking beauty:

 

Latin Name

Indigofera amblyantha

Common Name

Pink Indigo

Family

Fabaceae, the Pea family.

What kind of plant is it?

Deciduous shrub.

Hardiness

Zones 6 - 8

Habit

Upright and eager, without the usually-attractive weeping habit of its pink-flowered pea-family cousin, Bush Clover.  It dies back to lower and lower reaches at the cold end of its range, but resprouts with gusto, so who cares?

Rate of Growth

Fast.

Size in ten years

If stumped each Spring (the better tactic even if there isn't any Winter die-back), a fat and happy shrub four to six feet tall and four to five feet across.

Texture

Delicate and modest, as least as far as possible with anything that gets four to six feet tall by the first of August.

Grown for

the flowers.  Four to six-inch vertical spikes from each leaf node of each stem.  Medium pink and therefore pleasant.

 

the long season of bloom.  Because the stems continue to grow all season long, they continue to flower, too.  For months.

 

the seed pods are only modestly interesting—so much so that I haven't yet noticed them.  I'll keep a clearer eye on this plant this season.

Flowering season

Late Spring through late Summer: June into September here in Rhode Island.  Few other hardy plants can claim as diligent a performance.

Culture

Almost any soil that's well-drained in the Winter.  Full sun, or as full as possible.  This is not a plant that could, in any way, be thought of as a shade-garden component. 

How to handle it

 Pink Indigo is just the plant to keep a pink-friendly garden full and colorful through the hottest dog-day season.  The plant is indefatigable.  But because it's only hardy to Zone 6 (trust me on this one), you'll want to help its long-term survival along by planting it where it gets good Winter drainage, especially if your soil, like mine, is rich and heavy, and your garden is basically flat.  Even planting atop a small mound, two feet across and five inches high, can make the difference.

 

Like these other indefatigable Summer flowerers with small flowers (now that I think of it), buddleias and bush clovers, Pink Indigo is at its best when you cut it down to nubs in Spring.  And like them, too, there's no rush to prune:  Wait until the leaf-buds have started to swell, or even when new leaves have emerged.  Cutting too early in the season (let alone in the Fall), can be death. 

 

You can help Winter hardiness even more by mulching heavily in late Fall.  Then the Indigo is more likely to die-back just to the level of the mulch, not die, period.

 

Pink Indigo could be a great plant to underplant with plants that go dormant in Summer.  Spring ephemerals, in other words: Spring bulbs, oriental poppies, dicentra.  With the Indigo cut down (eventually), their Spring show is a welcome dash of foliage and color.  Even if you don't get to cutting the Indigo down until their Spring show is full-on, not to worry: the Indigo doesn't have heavy branches, and they are vertical anyway, so are easy to clip out even if you have to ease aside your tulips and poppies in the process.  Soon after the Spring show is done, the Indigo will have burgeoned up and out, hiding the ground for the rest of the season. 

 

Downsides

Ah, if only it were bone-hardy to Zone 4.  Sorry, Vermonters!

Variants

There are other indigos to try, not least the peerless white-flowered groundcover, Indigofera incarnata 'Alba'.  With about 700 members to the indigo tribe, there's a lot to explore no matter where you garden.

Availability

On-line.

Propagation

By seed.

Native habitat

China.

 
 
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