Indigofera kirilowii, a Ground Cover for Large Areas

Indigofera is a genus of about 750 species of flowering plants. It may be best known for the tropical herbs Indigofera tinctura and Indigofera suffructicosa, which are both used to produce indigo dye. Other species include annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees, which vary in hardiness from USDA zones 6 to 11.

Indigofera kirilowii grows in in my own garden. Views of Indigofera kirilowii in my woodland garden. Look closely at the lower left photo. Do you see the bee behind the flower? He flew toward the back just as I took this photo.Visitors frequently admire the soft, fernlike foliage and want to know about it. Hardy in zones 6 to 9, it is a deciduous, suckering subshrub that has small pinnate leaves and pink and white racemes of flowers from May to midsummer, with sporadic blooms into fall. Its cotton candy colored flowers are attractive to pollinators. It looks much like a ground hugging wisteria.

It grows well on banks and does a great job of stabilizing the soil on a slope. Individual plants grow to about 2 feet tall and wide. They spread by underground runners, and Indigofera kirilowii makes an excellent ground cover for large areas. It is easy to pull up excess plants, but I would never plant Indigofera kirilowii unless it had room to roam. 

Indigofera grows well in light shade to full sun. It is not picky about soil, but it will especially thrive in well-draining, loamy soil. My Indigofera grows in a section of the woodland garden that gets no supplemental water, and it has done well. It has been a very low-maintenance plant. Flowers are produced on new wood, and I do usually cut the dead stems to the ground in late winter to neaten the appearance and to make room for the fresh spring growth.


Am I a Crazy Gardener?

Recently I was helping a friend in her garden when I became aware that she was looking at me oddly. 

"Oh, I guess you noticed I talk to the plants."

"Yes," she replied. "And you also talk to worms."

It's true. I talk to all sorts of plants and critters. Since none of them have talked back yet, I don't think this makes me crazy, though some folks may have a different opinion.Wrens are raising a family in this red birdhouse next to the patio. I usually say good morning to them, and they answer me with song.

I am hanging on to each moment in the garden, treasuring the fresh air and the glorious spring blooms. In the front garden, roses and other shrubs are flowering along with annuals and perennials. The vibrant foliage of Japanese maples adds to the colorful scene.

Confederate jasmine, Trachelospermum jasminoides, grows on the arch near pink Anthony Waterer Spirea.

Clockwise from top left: Daylilies in front of the pink bird house will soon be blooming. Behind the bird house is purple Loropetalum and to the left is Anthony Waterer Spirea; Persicaria 'Purple Dragon' grows next to potted Hosta Aureomarginata; Coral Drift roses by the patio; Confederate Jasmine.

Clockwise from top left: Foxgloves; Rosa Mutabilis; Anthony Waterer Spirea; Rose 'Orchid Romance.'

The woodland garden is taking on an enchanted, deep green atmosphere that gleams with golden tints in late afternoon sunshine. I love to walk along the moss paths and watch the light glinting over the plants.

Blooms in the woodland garden are more subdued than those in the sunnier front garden. Above are on the left, Heucherella 'Alabama Sunset' and, on the right, a white woodland phlox.

Clockwise from top left: Fatsia japonica 'Spiderweb' in pot, seen with Strawberry begonia flowers; Ligularia; Indigofera; Bird's Nest Fern, a tropical plant that spends warm parts of the year in the woodland garden.Ground covers seen here are Liriope and Indigofera.

Summer will be here soon, and bugs and fungal diseases will arrive with the heat and humidity. Flowers will retreat. Some plants will wilt overnight. Others will reach and twine and proliferate like true denizens of the jungle.

Meanwhile, I continue to talk to my garden, and because I am so tuned to it, it responds to my care and love. How about you; are you a crazy gardener, too?