Growing Indigo Indoors
Answered by: Richters Staff
Question from: Jamie Bishop
Posted: Before April 1998

I live in northwest Massachusetts and I would like to attempt to grow indigo indoors under wide spectrum grow lights. Is this venture possible? If so, how would be the best way to go about germinating the seeds, and what specific conditions must be met for the plant to thrive?

It is possible, but probably won’t be cost effective. The plants will reach 3-5 feet and the intensity will need to be high in order to induce indican production. Indican is the chemical that is converted to indigo during processing. You may find that wide spectrum fluorescent lights are not enough; you may need to install high pressure sodium lamps to get enough intensity.

In your research we recommend that you consult Rita Buchanan’s "A Dyer’s Garden" (available from Richters) which is one of the few books that describes how to grow and use your own indigo. Her discussion is on outdoor culture but you should be able to adapt it for your indoor project.

One last cultural note: indigo seedlings are highly susceptible to damping off, a fungus disease that can destroy seedlings almost overnight. Never water late in the day and provide adequate ventilation. Be prepared to use chemical or non-chemical controls if damping off occurs. Freshly brewed chamomile tea works well as a spray or drench.

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