Growing Indigofera in Containers- Growing the Indigo Bush or Australian Indigo

Indigoferas are beautifully flowering shrub taht should be grown in containers.
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In this article, we will discuss how to grow the unusual but beautiful Indigofera in containers. Indigofera is a very large genus of flowering plants that belongs to the Fabaceae (the Pea) family, where 750 species are known to exist. It is one genus that is found throughout the world in the tropics and sub-tropic regions.

Indigoferas are beautifully flowering shrub taht should be grown in containers.
Indigoferas are beautiful flowering shrubs that should be grown in containers.

Most of the members of the Indigofera genus tend to be shrubs, whilst others are small trees and herbaceous perennials and annuals. They are known for the pinnate leaves, which are common for most species found in the pea family. The flowers are produced above the leaves and are usually red, although white and yellow species have been known. The flowers are followed by pods of varying sizes and shapes. The shrubs tend not to be too big, growing up to 1.8m tall and so make great specimens in a large container.

As you can imagine as many grow in hot regions of the world that only a few species are fully hardy to UK gardens. This is the only plant that is noted for producing its blooms late in the season from July to September, where other shrubs are not often in flower. If you want to make a great impact it is suggested that you grow 2 to 3 shrubs in their own containers near each other, grouped together. It will simply look spectacular.

The main drawback of this deciduous shrub is that it is bare for most of the year. Leaves do not appear until late May or June, so you have to be patient for the leaves and the flowers to show.

Find out how to grow this beauty in containers in this article.


It is very important to get the growing conditions right for the plant to do well. First, choose a large container like a half-sized whisky barrel or its like. Whatever you use make sure it has plenty of drainage holes at the bottom of it. To the bottom of the container add a 2cm layer of gravel to aid drainage even further and on top of this add multipurpose compost to 5cm below the top rim of the container.

At the centre of the container dig a hole in the compost slightly bigger than the root ball it came in the original container. Drop the plant in so that the top of the root ball is at the same level as the top surface of the compost. Backfill with the growing media so that no vacant areas exist, using more compost if you deem it to be necessary. Firm the shrub in and water well.


Indigofera tinctoria
Indigofera tinctoria

In order for the plant to be at its best, you will need to grow it in a sheltered spot in full sun. The more sun it gets the better it will be.  Training against a sunny wall is even better.

You will need to water regularly until the plant is established but it is best to water when 5cm below the top surface of the compost feels dry to the touch. Water until it just emerges from the drainage holes.

This is not a hungry plant and prefers to be grown in poor soil. Do not feed unless the shrub is showing obvious signs of a nutrient deficiency, which should be very rarely done.

Indigofera heterantha
Indigofera heterantha

If you wish to prune, it is best to trim it and remove some old wood in spring. If a plant is getting too old and unproductive, you can prune it near to the ground in April. In hard winters stems may be damaged or even killed. This should not be a problem as all you need to do is cut the dead stems close to the ground in spring and new shoots will grow near the base.

To propagate you can take semi-ripe cuttings in a cold frame in summer.


You are lucky as Indigofera tends to be pests and diseases free, so you do not need to worry. As said early the stems can be killed by hard frosts that will need removing in early spring to allow new shoots to appear.


Indigofera potaninii
Indigofera potaninii

There are 3 species that you are likely to find that are fully hardy in the UK garden.

These are:

Indigofera heterantha is an open bush with arching stems that grows up to 1.5m high. Graceful upright pea-like, red-purple flowers appear in mid-summer. It can be trained up a wall to give a sturdy and more vigorous plant.

Indigofera anblyantha has large and long racemes of pink flowers that last well into autumn.

A long-lasting shrub that produces 3 to 4 months of small pink flowers is Indigofera potaninii.


In this article, we have discussed how to grow the elegant and beautiful flowering shrub of Indigofera in containers. They are easy to care for, easy to look after and are general pests and disease-free. They will look stunning growing as a specimen plant in a large container.

So why not grow some Indigofera in containers and you will not be disappointed.

If you have any comments or questions that you would like to make on growing Indigofera in containers, please do so in the comment box below.

Happy Indigofera growing.

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