- 15 Super Plants for Texas Landscapes
- ‘Henry Duelberg’ Salvia
- Lacy Oak
- ‘Texas Gold’ Columbine
- ‘Lord Baltimore’ Hibiscus
- Turk’s Cap
- Cape Plumbago
- ‘Mystic Spires Blue’ Salvia
- ‘John Fanick’ Phlox
- Chinkapin Oak
- Deciduous Holly
- ‘Lowery’s Legacy’ Cenizo
- ‘Grandma’s Yellow’ Rose
- ‘Blue Princess’ Verbena
- Dwarf Mexican Petunia
- ‘Belinda’s Dream’ Rose
- Flowering Shrubs: Summer Color that Beats the Heat
- Flowering Shrubs
- Summer Color That Beats the Heat!
- Texas Sage
- Red Yucca
- Fringe Flower
- Nana Nandina
- Perennials for Shade
- What do Master Gardeners grow?
- Garden Q&A: How to tame a wild plumbago
- Blue Plumbago
- What Is The Blue Plumbago?
- Planting Plumbago Ground Cover Or Beds
- Plumbago Care
- Can You Grow Plumbago On A Trellis?
- When And How To Prune Plumbago
- Species of The Plumbago Plant
- Growing Plumbago Plants – How To Care For A Plumbago Plant
- How to Grow a Plumbago Plant
- How to Care for a Plumbago in Cooler Climates
- Ceratostigma plumbaginoides
- plumbago, leadwort Interesting Notes
- Blue Plumbago Overview
- Caring for Your Blue Plumbago
- Q: Why is my plumbago shrub not doing well?
- Planting plumbago
- Caring for plumbago
- A disease that impacts plumbago
- Learn more about plumbago
- Smart tip about plumbago
- Plumbago on social media
15 Super Plants for Texas Landscapes
Texas Superstar Plants identifies superior landscape plants for Texas. Combining the expertise of university and industry leaders, the cooperative program also promotes their introduction in the marketplace. With input from Texas A&M University horticulturists, nursery professionals, growers, arboretum and botanical garden representatives, and other experts, the program’s combined efforts bring superior landscape plants for Texas to the attention of consumers through an active marketing campaign.
‘Henry Duelberg’ Salvia
Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’ is a gorgeous Texas native plant that is easy to grow, attracts hummingbirds and butterflies, is exceeding drought-tolerant, and doesn’t attract deer. It grows between 2 feet and 3 feet tall and has flower spikes that are 1 foot long and covered in dark, purplish-blue flowers. Cutting back the spikes after the flowers are spent encourages the plant to rebloom. It can be in bloom virtually all season. Once established, this salvia is incredibly heat- and drought-tolerant. It’s perfect for water-wise gardeners. The only thing this plant doesn’t like is wet feet. Zones 7-9
Some debate continues about the correct botanical name of this Texas native, but the common name is the same: lacey oak (Quercus laceyi, syn. Quercus glaucoides). A smaller oak, it reaches just 25-35 feet tall and wide, making it more in scale with residential gardens. The tree has a beautiful habit, resembling a miniature white oak. It makes a lovely shade tree and is also perfect in a garden of native Texas plants. Although lacey oak can be grown in east Texas, it is best adapted to the Hill Country and cultivated settings in west Texas. Lacey oak is highly tolerant of heat, drought, and high pH soils, once established. Zones 7-9
‘Texas Gold’ Columbine
Hinckley columbine is native to only one place in Texas and is very rare in the wild. ‘Texas Gold’ (Aquilegia chrysantha var. hinckleyana ‘Texas Gold’), a selection of this rare plant, has buttercup-yellow flowers with long, attractive spurs and fernlike foliage. The bright blossoms light up a shady border. Columbine can be a short-lived perennial but will reseed itself if you let the seedlings grow. ‘Texas Gold’ reaches 2-3 feet tall. It prefers well-drained soil, part shade, and adequate moisture, though it will tolerate some heat. Zones 5-8
‘Lord Baltimore’ Hibiscus
Who says native plants aren’t well-behaved and gorgeous? ‘Lord Baltimore’ hibiscus has enormous 10-foot-wide, bright scarlet flowers, and they bloom for an extended period—from July until frost. Once established, this tropical-looking perennial provides years of color. It is versatile enough to use in large decorative pots, in a perennial border, or in butterfly and hummingbird gardens. You’ll often see ‘Lord Baltimore’ growing near ponds because it loves moist soil. Growing to about 5 feet tall and wide, the plants die back to the ground in winter but regrows quickly each spring. Zones 5-9
Turk’s cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii) is native to south Texas, where it is a perennial and makes an outstanding ornamental for shady sites. The flowers look much like hibiscus but never fully open, so they look like little turbans. The flowers appear in a range of colors from red to pink to white and attract hummingbirds and butterflies. It is a fast-growing shrub that reaches between 3 feet and 6 feet in height and width. It may not be hardy in north planting zones in Texas but could be used as an annual there. It’s drought-tolerant, once established. Zones 7b-11
Another common name for cape plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) is sky flower because the blossoms are sky blue. This tender perennial loves the Texas heat and will flower profusely from May until frost. The flowers look a little like phlox and attract all kinds of butterflies. Luckily, deer don’t seem to find them very delicious. Cape plumbago can be left to sprawl as a groundcover or to fall over a wall. It responds well to pruning and can be kept in a neat mounded form or trained to climb a trellis. It does best in light, sandy soils with good drainage. Zones 8-11
‘Mystic Spires Blue’ Salvia
Salvia longispicata x farinacea ‘Mystic Spires Blue’ is a selection of another popular salvia called ‘Indigo Spires’. Besides inheriting a good compact form, ‘Mystic Spires Blue’ produces more blooms. Loads of blue flowers touched with silver bloom all season long and mix perfectly with other perennials and annuals in the border. Tolerant of heat and humidity and rarely bothered by pests or disease, this perennial has no appeal to deer either. Too much love can kill these plants so use fertilizer and irrigation sparingly. Cut back to about 1 foot after the first frost. Zones 7-11
‘John Fanick’ Phlox
Named for a San Antonio nurseryman, Phlox paniculata ‘John Fanick’ is a beautiful bicolor with lavender-and-pink blossoms. The foliage has a waxy texture that discourages powdery mildew, a disease that lesser phlox often succumb to. It has a compact form, growing about 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide, perfect for the middle or back of a perennial border. Lovely combined with ‘Mystic Spires Blue’ salvia, this perennial also makes good cut flowers. It tolerates heat and humidity. Grow it in moderately fertile, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Zones 4-9
Considered to be one of the most underutilized native trees, chinkapin oak (Quercus muehlenbergii) can grow quite tall in the East but generally remains in the 30- to 50-foot-tall range in Texas. The foliage is lustrous green and, in some years, develops a pleasing yellow, orange-brown to rich brown fall color. This oak is heat-tolerant and, once established, can tolerate considerable drought. Although adaptable, the tree prefers to grow in neutral to somewhat alkaline soil. It attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. Zones 5-7
A delightful small native tree, deciduous holly (Ilex decidua) is easy to grow and has an extended period of interest. It is fairly adaptable but prefers moist, acidic soil in sun or part shade. The small white flowers are not very showy, but the orange-red berries that the female plants produce are stunning. After the foliage drops in autumn, the slim gray branches are covered with berries that persist into winter. This is an outstanding choice if you hope to welcome wildlife, especially birds into the garden. You need both a male and female plant to ensure good berry production. Zones 5-9
‘Lowery’s Legacy’ Cenizo
Leucophyllum langmaniae ‘Lowery’s Legacy’ was selected because it flowers so profusely and so often. It is a slow-growing woody shrub that will eventually reach about 5 feet tall. The silvery foliage is quite handsome and provides a lovely contrast to dark green shrubs. The violet-blue bell-shaped flowers stand out beautifully against the silver leaves. Compared to many selections of Texas sage, it is less dependent on changes in humidity for flowering and will bloom more often. This sun-lover resents wet feet; be careful to avoid overwatering. Zones 8-11
‘Grandma’s Yellow’ Rose
‘Grandma’s Yellow’ rose (Rosa ‘Nacogdoches’) has full, deep yellow, fragrant blossoms that repeat from spring until the first hard frost. Growing 4-5 feet tall and about 3 feet wide, every garden should find a place for this beauty. It needs sunshine—at least six hours a day of good light—and regular watering. Of course, it makes beautiful cut flowers. This rose should be hardy in most of Texas but in Zone 6, it might be wise to give it some winter protection. Zones 6-9
‘Blue Princess’ Verbena
Verbena x hybrida ‘Blue Princess’ thrives in Texas heat. “Most people make the mistake of pampering it,” says Brent Pemberton, Texas AgriLife Research horticulturist. “It must be planted in the sunniest, best-drained spot in your landscape. It will not bloom profusely unless the plant gets plenty of sunlight.” You can’t be afraid to prune it either. After the first exquisite flush of lavender blooms, give the plant a haircut. Pruning encourages another round of flowers and keeps the plant from getting lanky and unkempt-looking. This perennial grows about 1 foot tall. Zones 7b-10
Dwarf Mexican Petunia
Trumpet-shape, violet-blue flowers are born on the tips of the 1-foot stems and are extremely showy, in part because of the clouds of butterflies they attract. After the plant finishes flowering for the first time, cut it back about halfway to encourage another flush of blooms. Mexican petunia (Ruellia brittoniana) is very adaptable and will tolerate wet and dry soils. This perennial prefers full sun and will tolerate shade, but it will flower less in low-light situations. This dwarf variety grows less aggressively than the species and is a great choice for a long season of color. Zones 8-11
‘Belinda’s Dream’ Rose
‘Belinda’s Dream’ was the first rose to be named a Texas Superstar. It was also the first rose to receive the prestigious Earth-Kind designation, meaning it’s been proved to be one of the best flowering roses that requires the least amount of care. Earth-Kind’s tagline: If you can grow weeds, you can grow Earth-Kind roses. ‘Belinda’s Dream’ grows to about 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide. The fragrant pink blossoms are fully double with a whopping petal count of more than 100. The blue-green foliage provides a lovely background for the delightful blooms. Zones 5-9
- By Peggy Anne Montgomery
Flowering Shrubs: Summer Color that Beats the Heat
Summer Color That Beats the Heat!
North Texas summers bring extended heat, drought, and less than I
deal conditions for plant growth making it becomes especially challenging to for most plants to produce blooms. However here in North Texas we have a few perennial favorites that withstand the tough conditions and put on showy displays of blooms through the summer months. Plants such as Knock Out Roses, Crepe Myrtles, Oleanders, Periwinkles and Pentas thrive and bloom all summer long. Colorful blooms are usually associated with plants such as annuals, perennials, trees and tropicals, but did you know that there is a wide assortment of Flowering Shrubs that give just as much color? These flowering shrubs are more inclined to thrive in the heat and withstand the drought conditions to provide color to your landscape throughout the summer!
Gardening in North Texas can be an adventure! Nobody’s yard has the same ratio of sun and shade so a little knowledge goes a long way when it comes to deciding what plants to buy. Will the plants you choose be hardy enough to withstand 100 plus degree temperatures? Familiarizing ourselves with the best plants for our location is key to their Texas summer survival. Listed below are some summer blooming shrubs that we recommend to keep your landscape colorful this summer!
Texas sage is a tough Native Texas Plant with purple to lavender blooms spring, summer and fall. It can be used as a hedge or in containers as well as mass plantings. Choose a sunny location for best growth and bloom production. Plant 3-4 feet apart to allow room to grow and spread. Fertilize with slow-release fertilizers once or twice a year. Texas Sage is slow growing, prune carefully to prevent ugly, open growth. Texas Sage tends to have a naturally rounded growth habit, but tip prune for a compact full look and to further control its shape. This plant is native to dessert regions and is very heat and drought tolerant. Choose from standard and compact varieties.
Red yucca is a favorite in many commercial and residential landscapes in North Texas. Its dark green long, thin leaves rise from the base providing an unusual look to the landscape. With tall spikes of pink to red bell-shaped flowers that last from May through October. It is extremely tough; it tolerates drought, extreme heat and cold; needing little or no irrigation once established. Red Yucca is not a true yucca; unlike yucca the leaves are not spine-tipped. Red yucca is a Texas Native Plant. Grows 3-5 feet tall and 2-4 feet wide.
Oleander is an evergreen shrub growing 8-10 foot tall and spreading 4-6 foot wide. It performs and blooms best planted in a sunny location. Blooms are fragrant and come in vibrant red, white, pink and salmon colors. Oleanders are repeat bloomers and bloom strait through the summer from late spring through fall. This plant has average water needs so make sure not to over water! This plant is also deer resistant, but all parts of this plant are poisonous if ingested so be sure to make considerations for pets and small children.
The Vitex, also known as Chaste Tree is a deciduous shrub or small tree that is widely used in North Texas. Vitex has a summertime display of purple blooms from mid summer until early fall. Removing the spent flower spikes after the initial blooms have died will initiate another round of blooms. Vitex grows best in full sun and in well-drained soils. It will tolerate drought and various other soil types, but growth and flowering will be limited. In moist soils, growth can be rapid, but blooms will not be as vibrant in color. Vitex trees require heat for best flowering. Vitex does best planted in full to part sun. Grows 12-15 foot tall. Deer resistant.
Loropetalum chinense var. rubrum
Fringe Flower is an evergreen shrub that ranges in heights from 1-2 feet tall and as high as 6 to 10 feet depending on variety. This plant blooms from mid March through April and sporadically through the rest of the season. There are multiple varieties of this plant each with its own unique qualities. Fringe Flower gets its name for it delicate pink fringe like blooms. This plant displays deep burgundy to purple foliage through out the summer months. This plant is native to China and Japan. Plant in full to part sun for best foliage and bloom display! Fringe Flower is typically pest and disease free but root rot can be an issue in poorly drained soil.
(Nandina domestica ‘Nana Purpurea’)
Nana Nandina is an evergreen shrub used for its compact growth habit with excellent yellows, oranges and green summer colored foliage. Nandina Nana also displays beautiful deep reds and burgundy colors in the fall. Growing to a height of 18-24” tall and wide. These plants require very little maintenance. They can be grown in containers or used as borders or compact hedges. Does best planted in full to part sun, will display best color when planted in direct sunlight. Attracts butterflies, bees and birds. Nana Nandina are very drought tolerant once established. This plant is insect, disease and Deer resistant.
Flowering perennials are lovely to look at and helpful to pollinators.
Perennials are plants that have a period of dormancy and then return for several years. The obvious advantage is that they don’t have to be replanted each year. If you’re new to gardening, check out the Plant Picture Pages from the Texas A&M Department of Horticultural Sciences for information about selecting and growing outstanding perennials for Texas. And see below for our Master Gardener Favorites and Texas Superstars.
While perennials have many advantages, they do have to be divided, pruned, cut back and fertilized. They are not carefree plants. They are easily pruned (they don’t grow to be 80′ tall!). But if you don’t know where to start, here is a guide to pruning just about everything.
Perennials are fun to propagate because one of the joys of gardening is sharing your favorite plants with others. Propagation is an entire subject, of course, and knowing how to propagate a particular plant can be a puzzle. Some are propagated by seed, some by division, some by cuttings. There is no rule of thumb, but if you can’t find out how to propagate the plant you love the most, try everything. Of course, there is a lot more science than that (isn’t there always a catch?), but there’s not much to lose by sticking a cutting in the ground to see if it roots. Just be sure you have one or more nodes underground, or it definitely will not root. Putting a little rooting hormone on the end of the cutting is also a good idea. Here is a quick guide to propagating some of our local favorites.
Many perennials need to be divided every three years or so because they become so thick that they fail to bloom any more. Iris is a good example. Division is actually sort of fun because most plants are fairly forgiving. You can dig in with a hatchet and have them divided in no time. This page from the Smith County Master Gardeners has expert advice about dividing perennials.
Perennials for Shade
To see information about perennials for shady spots, visit this Shade Plants page.
What do Master Gardeners grow?
These plants are our favorites. Some of them are also Texas Superstar® plants. Texas Superstars are plants that have been extensively researched to ensure they will thrive in the harsh Texas climate. Plant these favorites with reasonable assurance that they will grow in your garden.
- Artemisia ‘Powis Castle‘
- Autumn Sage
- Bee Balm
- Bird of Paradise
- Black-eyed Susan
- Chinese pistache
- Columbine, Texas Gold
- Copper Canyon Daisy
- Coral Bells
- Daylily ‘Stella d’Oro’
- Fall Aster
- Gregg’s Mist Flower
- Hardy Hibiscus ‘Flare’
- Hardy Hibiscus ‘Lord Baltimore’
- Hardy Hibiscus ‘Texas Star’
- Hardy Hibiscus ‘Moy Grande’
- Hibiscus, Marshmallow
- Japanese Painted Fern
- Jerusalem Sage
- Lamb’s Ear
- Lantana ‘New Gold’
- Lantana, Texas
- Lantana, Trailing
- Lenten Rose
- Mexican Bush Sage
- Mexican Feather Grass
- Mexican Mint Marigold
- Mexican Petunia, Dwarf
- Phlox ‘John Fanick’
- Phlox, Victoria
- Pink Muhly Grass
- Possumhaw Deciduous Holly
- Purple Coneflower
- Purple Fountain Grass
- Rain Lily
- Salvia ‘Henry Duelberg’
- Salvia ‘Mystic Spires Blue’
- Rock Rose
- Verbena ‘Blue Princess’
Garden Q&A: How to tame a wild plumbago
My plumbago has completely outgrown its space. When can I prune it?
Plumbago is one of those “doers” that Florida gardeners love. It’s easy to maintain and provides clusters of periwinkle-blue flowers from summer to fall when nothing else wants to grow. And, as a bonus, its nectar attracts butterflies.
An article I found says that plumbago will grow from 6 to 10 feet tall and wide though smaller in North Central Florida. It seems your particular shrub didn’t read the article (UF/EDAS Publication #FPS487). When our winter temperatures drop to the mid-20s, this plant typically dies back to the ground, then quickly grows back in spring.
You can safely trim plumbago’s excessive growth at any time of the year.
It might be helpful to remind you of this general rule of thumb regarding pruning flowering shrubs: If the plant blooms first thing in the spring, like azaleas, it’s flowering on last year’s growth. It’s best to prune them after they are finished flowering until early summer (think Fourth of July). If the plant is blooming from summer through fall, like your plumbago, it’s blooming on new growth, and pruning should be done in the early spring to encourage lots of new growth tips.
It embarrasses me to ask this question, but what can I do with a garden that’s getting too much water? We live in a neighborhood that is getting almost daily thunderstorms. We’ve already lost some perennials (purple coneflowers, in particular) and several plants are dropping leaves and not looking healthy at all. Other than standing out there with umbrellas, what can I do?
April showers may bring May flowers, but torrential downpours in July are a pain in the neck. Too much water can be harder on our gardens than too little. Add 90-degree-plus temperatures, and you have the perfect environment for diseases and rot. Since you can’t control the weather, all you can do is be on the lookout for trouble and be proactive in treating the problems.
Between storms, scout your garden for symptoms of diseases associated with excessive rains and hot temperatures. Bacterial and fungal diseases spread when leaves stay moist and root systems are stressed with too much water. Spots on foliage, discoloration, decay on leaves, stems or fruit, wilting and, as you’ve already seen, death of an entire plant are obvious indicators of disease. Basic sanitation practices and some horticultural products can help to keep diseases in check.
Start with simple grooming. Remove fallen infected leaves and debris so that the spores don’t settle in the soil to re-infect the plant next year. Prune out dead or infected branches. When pruning, trim to open up the plant and improve air circulation to dry damp leaves quickly
If you are finding areas of your lawn that are thinning and dying back, you’re likely looking at the symptoms of one of the three common summer turfgrass fungi. Gray leaf spot (Pyricularia grisea), pythium root rot (Pythium spp.) and take-all root rot are all prevalent in our area. If you suspect your lawn has been attacked, the UF publication, edis.ifas.ufl.edu/lh064, has a chart with symptom descriptions and products to control these summer diseases. Terry Brite DelValle, a horticulture extension agent with the Duval County Extension Services, has written extensively on this topic. Her 2013 article on lawn diseases is available online at tinyurl.com/novkl9y. You’ll find detailed descriptions, good cultural practices and fertilization advice that’s written specifically for our area.
Powdery mildew is a serious fungal disease that shows up during the rainy season, attacking a wide range of plants. A white powdery growth usually appears on new and old foliage that then drop prematurely. An application of neem oil, a safe, non-toxic pesticide, as a foliar spray will kill the fungus.
Soil has lots of spaces between the particles that hold air and water used by the plant’s roots. Repeated heavy rains can push the oxygen out of the soil, leaving only water in these spaces, which will effectively drown the plant. If the rain has made your garden muddy, avoid compounding the compaction of the soil by walking on it. These sodden conditions make the roots vulnerable to attack by fungal organisms that can cause root rot.
As you plan for next season, identify the low areas of your landscape and consider either using raised beds in those areas and/or choosing plants tolerant of wet feet. Most plant tags will tell you its moisture requirements.
Keep in mind that diseases spread easily when leaves are wet, so avoid pruning or harvesting until the foliage has dried. Stake your plants to improve air circulation. Sanitize your pruners and clean your mower blades to decrease the possibility of transmitting bacteria or fungi. Mow at the proper height and never scalp the lawn.
And, to add insult to injury during these rainy days, keep an eye out for weeds. The rain will encourage their seeds to sprout and pop up almost overnight. Normally, I’d recommend simply hand pulling, but the temperatures may have you inside with the fan. Until it’s cool enough to go back outside, add mulch to your beds and borders to prevent weeds from germinating as well as ease soil erosion.
Paula Weatherby is a master gardener with the Duval County Extension Service and the University of Florida/IFAS.
Plumbago auriculata ‘Imperial Blue’
Growing in billowing drifts with breathtaking flowers, blue plumbago is an easy-care, showy shrub with cottage garden appeal.
‘Imperial Blue’ is the most popular cultivar, with butterfly-attracting blossoms in vibrant blue with a hint of violet.
A blue flowering plant is a rarity in South Florida landscapes, and blue plumbago plays well with others, colorwise. It’s especially nice combined with other plants with silvery foliage and those with pink, yellow or white flowers.
There’s even a lesser-known white plumbago.
The flowers resemble those of phlox, and the petals are slightly sticky (like Post-It Notes). When trimming the plant – or brushing by it – expect to find little blue flower petals clinging to your skin or clothing.
The plumbago plant has a spreading, rambling habit that works best in an informal, naturalized setting, cottage garden or English garden style landscape design.
This evergreen shrub is a fast grower that blooms on and off all year – more in warmer weather.
It needs full to part sun to flower to perfection.
Blue plumbago is moderately drought-tolerant and it’s cold hardy, growing anywhere in South Florida including Zone 9B.
Keep the plant trimmed to 3 feet or less…it can grow much larger, but looks its best when kept in bounds.
These shrubs are considered to be deer-resistant (though we make no promises).
Add top soil or organic peat moss to the hole when you plant. You may also want to add composted cow manure to the mix to enrich the soil.
Water regularly but give this shrub time to dry out between waterings.
Trim occasionally for shape, size and to keep it looking tidy. Don’t use hedge trimmers – this type of plant is not for neat freaks; it doesn’t lend itself to a manicured landscape.
Do a hard pruning in spring – late March or early April.
Important: You MUST give plumbago a good drink before a hard prune. If you cut it dry it won’t ever fully recover.
Fertilize 3 times a year – in spring, summer and autumn – with a good granular fertilizer. You can supplement feedings with bone meal and/or liquid fertilizer to promote heavy bloom.
Plant 3 feet apart. It’s important to give the plumbago plant plenty of space…the rambling growth can overtake its neighbors unless the shrub is spaced properly to begin with.
Plumbago looks fantastic cascading over the sides of a planter or container. Give it a regular drink but avoid overwatering.
Landscape uses for blue plumbago
- along a fence
- lining a deck, porch, patio or pool cage
- accent for a garden bed or mixed informal hedge
- around trunks of palms or trees tall enough to let plenty of sunlight through
- along the property border as an informal fence
- in a container or planter
A.K.A. (also known as): Cape Plumbago
GOOD SNOWBIRD PLANT? YES
COMPANION PLANT SUGGESTIONS: Hibiscus, snowbush, silver buttonwood, Panama rose, Nora Grant ixora, bush allamanda, gold mound
Other plants you might like: Nora Grant or Super King Ixora, Dwarf Bougainvillea
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- Small Shrubs
Have you heard of the plumbago plant – Ceratostigma plumbaginoides?
It’s a hardy, excellent choice for a landscape design in need of a groundcover type plant. The plant loves the heat, can survive long, humid summers, and is drought tolerant.
The blue plumbago auriculata native to South Africa is also known as plumbago capensis, the blue plumbago, Cape plumbago or Cape leadwort.
The lime loving blue flowered plant Plumbago loves heat, handles long, humid summers well and is drought-tolerant.
The name “Plumbago” (pronounced – Plum-Bay’go) derived from Latin plumbum, which means lead. It is believed at one time to be a medicinal plant used as a cure for lead poisoning.
What Is The Blue Plumbago?
The plumbago has been described as a fast-growing, semi-woody perennial shrub that produces phlox-like blue flowers almost all year round. There are many uses in the landscape for the plumbago plant.
During the flowering stage, five petal phlox-like flowers (Phlox Drummondii) develop to form 6 inch star flower bloom clusters covering the whole plant.
The most common variety found in garden centers is, plumbago auriculata with beautiful blooms, light blue in color.
The different varieties and cultivars like the “Plumbago Imperial Blue” cape flowers are slightly different having a darker shade of blue.
When planted, the bush/shrub forms into loosely branched mounds that grow up to 36″ inches tall and wide. Although the thin branches of Plumbago have an arching habit, the plant has oblong foliage about two inches in length.
The bush with beautiful blue blooms not only attracts the eye but its scent attracts butterflies. If you are a butterfly lover you’ll love the plumbago to make your outdoors lively and beautiful.
Planting Plumbago Ground Cover Or Beds
In areas where there is no severe freezing temperatures or frost, the plant remains evergreen throughout the year.
The perennial plumbago blue thrives in the south in USDA plant hardiness zones 8 – 11, where it is used extensively as an outdoor landscape plant, planted in partial shade but in full sun locations.
In the north, this woody tropical semi-climber is right at home in the cool greenhouse or sunny window in winter, and in all kinds of container gardens in summer.
This evergreen shrub grows well when:
- Massed as a plumbago groundcover shrub for color beds
- Planted in borders or as a hedge
- Used in foundation planting
- Planted in large pots or tubs (like the blue lily of the nile – Agapanthus), used on patios and decks with the blue flowers spilling over the edge of the container.
The production of abundant clusters of attractive cool pale blue flowers, make it a great choice for porch or patio use throughout the spring, late summer and autumn months.
Blue plumbago plant used as a groundcover shrub in partial sun at Disney World Port Orleans, Florida October 2017
When used as a groundcover or in beds it is best to plant in early Autumn or early spring. Select a suitable growing location with lots of partial sun at a minimum.
Plant in a well-drained soil, full of organic material with a 1/3 of each – loam, peat moss, sand – consistency.
After planting, water thoroughly and allow the soil to become nearly dry before watering again.
Cultural Requirements Include:
- Moderately cool temperatures in winter (50-65 degrees)
- Above-average humidity
- Any good but not overly rich well-drained soil mixture
- All but the hottest summer sun for full flowering
- Only moderate moisture
Fertilize the plumbago tree regularly for a strong root system and full flower heads.
Propagate by cuttings of nearly ripe wood in spring or fall, by root division of old plants, and by seeds.
In the fall, cut plumbago back severely, top-dress with fresh soil or repot, according to need.
Store potted plants fairly cool and dry until days begin to lengthen in earliest spring. Then, raise the temperature and force spring flowers in full sun.
Whether you are planting the plant in a garden bed or in a container, applying the mulch will help in reducing growth of weeds and improves retention of moisture.
A Guide To Watering Plumbago
When watering Plumbago flowers make sure to water thoroughly until all the soil around the plant(s) is moist. The plant does not require a lot of water. Allow the area to become dry before the next watering session.
Plumbagos are drought tolerant plants, they do not need watering more than twice a week during the warmer summer months. When the weather cools and fall begin, reduce watering to once per week.
How Often Should You Fertilizer Plumbago Plants?
Fertilize plumbago regularly, when plants have a strong root system and full flower heads! Apply a balanced fertilizer at least once per month for the best results. Follow the labeled directions on the bag.
Remember when the plants start developing flowers, they use a lot of energy. Provide plants with all the necessary nutrients they need.
Pest and Disease On Plumbago
One of the biggest upsides to planting the plumbago in the landscape goes beyond its many uses. Once established plants experience really no diseases or pests to speak of.
Propagating The Blue Plumbago
These herbaceous plants easily grow from 4-inch cuttings, taken from semi-ripe “wood” during the summer.
Dip the cutting in a rooting powder to stimulate root development and the hormone also acts as an anti-fungicide that prevents rotting of the cuttings.
Place cuttings is a well draining potting soil, in shade and water lightly. Keep the soil moist but not wet. Cuttings take 3 to 4 weeks to develop the roots.
Once roots develop transplant into larger pots, with a well-drained soil rich in organic material, and feed with an all-purpose fertilizer.
Can You Grow Plumbago On A Trellis?
Growing plumbago on a trellis creates a colorful conversation plant for a patio or deck. They can grown in many ways but long shoots of the plumbago look terrific on a trellis or another type of support.
Indoors or in the greenhouse it is particularly important to tie, train, and prune the vine to keep it in shape and suitable size. Set plants outdoors for the summer, for continued bloom.
You may also like: How To Grow and Care For The Gazania Flower
When And How To Prune Plumbago
The plumbago can become a scrawly, scraggly plant that will heap themselves into a plumbago hedge-like mound in tropical gardens unless they are pruned and trained to shape.
Indoors and in the greenhouse, they should be cut back to a reasonable size.
Since flowers are produced at the tip of new growth, pruning is done before spring for summer display, in early fall for winter bloom.
In tropical gardens, take your choice – train and prune each spring, or let the stems wander in their own way.
Plumbago is highly suitable for use as a flowering ground cover because it beautifully showers the air with its pretty blue star-shaped flowers making it one favorite of the butterfly.
Its fast and bushy growth habit makes it a perfect “exclusion zone” or bush-clump plant for attracting birds.
The Plumbago Plant is simply a winner in the landscape and on the patio.
You may also like this Plumbaginaceae family member –> Growing Armeria Maritima (Thrift plant)
Species of The Plumbago Plant
Plumbago auriculata – Plumbago capensis – Best-known species, with two-inch fresh green leaves and deep sky-blue flowers; refreshing when combined with the white-flowering variety, alba.
Plumbago indica coccinea – Larger leaves and flowers of deep coral or carmine.
Monrovia nursery offers a dwarf plumbago with electric blue blooms and dark green leaves.
Common Name: Leadwort plumbago
Plumbago auriculata ‘Imperial Blue’ (Blue Cape Plumbago) – An upright climbing evergreen shrub that reaches 6-8 feet tall with long whip like branches that arch outward holding 2 inch long oblong yellow green leaves that darken with age. It forms a rounded mound or can be pruned and or allowed to climb on other plants or structures as a vine to nearly 20 feet. Nearly year round, with peak from spring through fall, appear inch wide five petaled rich blue flowers on inch long tubes held in multiple flowered clusters at the branch tips. The fruit that follow have sticky hairs so best not planted along a pathway where they get stuck to clothing. Plant in sun or part shade (where it blooms less) in a fairly well drained soil and water occasionally to infrequently – tolerates low water conditions but looks better with an occasional irrigation. Hardy and evergreen to 25° F and reportedly root hardy to 10° F and useful down to USDA Zones 8. Tolerates seaside conditions. Cape Plumbago flowers on current year’s growth so prune to control size and to refresh the plant in late winter when flowering the least. In the garden it can be a nice blue flowering large mounded shrub for background planting, a large scale groundcover that is good for erosion control on slopes or can be used container specimen. It adds a tropical feel to the garden and is resistant to deer predation and good for attracting butterflies as both a larval host for some species and for food supply to others. This selection is similar to the species except that ‘Imperial Blue’ is a more compact plant with larger and darker royal blue flowers. It is very similar to the cultivar ‘Monott’ introduced and patented (since expired) by Monrovia Nursery in 1992. We also grow a white flowered selection called Plumbago auriculata ‘Alba’. Plumbago auriculata is native to southern Cape Province, Eastern Cape and into KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa where it inhabit scrub thickets called “valley bushveld” and shares much of this habitat with the Cape Honeysuckle, Tecomaria capensis. The name for the genus comes from the Latin word ‘plumbum’ which means “lead” a named given by Pliny for a plant believed to cure lead poisoning. The specific epithet comes from the Latin word ‘auricula’ meaning “the ear” and the adjectival suffix ‘atus’ meaning a likeness to in reference to the base of the leaf. This plant was long known as Plumbago capensis, as it was so named in 1794 by “the father of South African Botany”, Carl Peter Thunberg, for the Cape region it came from until it was realized that the French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarc had previously brought the plant to the East Indies in 1786 as a garden plant and named it Plumbago auriculata. Another common name for this plant is Cape Leadwort. The information on this page is based on research conducted in our nursery library and from online sources as well as from observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in the nursery’s garden and in other gardens that we have observed it in. We also will incorporate comments received from others and always appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have additional information, particularly if this information is contrary to what we have written or includes additional cultural tips that might aid others in growing Plumbago ‘Imperial Blue’.
Growing Plumbago Plants – How To Care For A Plumbago Plant
The plumbago plant (Plumbago auriculata), also known as the Cape plumbago or sky flower, is actually a shrub and in its natural surroundings can grow 6 to 10 feet tall with a spread of 8 to 10 feet. It is native to South Africa, and knowing this provides the first clue to how to grow a plumbago, along with where to grow one. Plumbago thrives in the South African heat and in the United States it is found growing year-round in the southernmost parts of Texas and Florida.
Plumbago plants are sprawling shrubs with branches that resemble vines. It is prized for the profusion of blue phlox-like flowers it produces for extended periods of time. It has few pests and diseases are rare. Two additional bonuses are its deer resistance and, once established, these easy growing shrubs also tolerate drought.
How to Grow a Plumbago Plant
If you live in a USDA plant hardiness zone of 9-11, caring for a plumbago will be much easier and your selection of where to grow plumbago is endless. Size should be taken into account when deciding where to grow. Plumbago shrubs need plenty of room.
It will grow as an evergreen shrub and makes an excellent foundation plant. It is a beautiful when planted over a stone or wood retaining wall, allowing its branches to cascade over in a waterfall of foliage and unusual blue flowers—and it will bloom all year long.
Because of its pest and disease resistance, how to care for a plumbago is pretty basic. It blooms best in full sun, but will tolerate some shade if you are willing to sacrifice some of the bloom. As with most plants, it prefers fertile, well-drained soil, but again, it isn’t fussy. Slightly acidic, slightly alkaline, clay, sand or loam — where to grow a plumbago in your zone is really a matter of where to dig the hole!
These shrubs do tend to become leggy, so plumbago care does involve occasional pruning and you’ll sacrifice the bloom if you trim too often or too much.
How to Care for a Plumbago in Cooler Climates
After learning about the wonderful attributes of plumbago plants and the ease of plumbago care, some of you gardeners are now asking about how to grow a plumbago plant or where to grow plumbago if you live outside zones 9-11. Well, if you’re in zone 7 or 8, you’re in luck.
These sturdy shrubs make great container plants. Use a good potting medium with a neutral pH and make sure the container leaves plenty of room for your shrub to grow. Enjoy it outdoors while the weather is warm.
Water it regularly, fertilize it each spring and it will grow two to three feet tall with a four foot spread.
When freezing temperatures threaten, how to care for a plumbago becomes a matter of cutting it back and putting it in your garage, or any area where it will be protected from frost and freeze.
Depending on the specialized and individual climate of your garden, you might consider how to grow a plumbago plant in the ground. Again, you’ll have to cut it back after the first frost and blanket the area with heavy mulch, but in the spring, your plumbago plant will re-emerge to bloom from summer to fall.
For the rest of us, we can only envy the beauty and ease of care our gardening neighbors to the south enjoy in owning a plumbago plant.
plumbago, leadwort Interesting Notes
“Plumbago (also commonly called leadwort) is a wiry, mat-forming perennial which spreads by rhizomes to form an attractive ground cover. Typically grows 6-10″ tall on generally erect stems rising from the rhizomes. Oval to obovate, shiny, medium green leaves (to 2″ long) turn bronze-red in autumn. Terminal clusters of 5-petaled, gentian blue flowers (1/2″ to 3/4” diameter) appear above the foliage over a long summer to frost bloom period. Flowers resemble those of woodland phlox.
Late, long-flowering plant serves as excellent ground cover for sunny to partly shaded areas in the landscape. A good plant for interplanting with spring bulbs because foliage emerges late as the bulb foliage is dying back. Underplanting for shrubs. Edger. May be used in rock gardens or border fronts with careful monitoring of spread. As a ground cover, plumbago would probably be as extensively planted as vinca, pachysandra or English ivy, except for the fact that it lacks their evergreen foliage.” – Missouri Botanical Gardens
Belonging to a group of deciduous perennials and shrubs from eastern Africa and Asia, leadwort is a wiry, semi-woody, mat-forming perennial which spreads by rhizomes to form an attractive ground cover. Like many nice groundcovers, it can be somewhat invasive in optimum growing conditions. These plants add a leafy green texture to the garden in summer, electric deep blue flowers from mid-summer on, and couldn’t be prettier in autumn with its reddish leaves. Highly rated as a ground cover, it would no doubt be more popular if it didn’t die away completely in winter, leaving bare patches in the garden. Plants are late to emerge in the spring, so their location should be carefully marked to avoid damage from early spring cultivation. – gaygardener.com
This hardy shrub features masses of dainty-looking, intense blue flowers on slender stems with pale green leaves. It will bloom all year round in warmer climates. It’s a gardener’s dream for anyone living in a mild and sunny environment as the Blue Plumbago is easy to care for, grows quickly, and attracts an array of birds and wildlife, including butterflies, which are drawn to the scent of the flowers.
The Blue Plumbago is also incredibly versatile and can be used as ground cover, hedging, a climber on supports or trellis, as a container plant, or cascading down from a hanging basket. Added to this, the plant is relatively pest-free, disease-resistant, and deer-resistant. Established Blue Plumbagos are drought-tolerant but not frost-tolerant. In low temperatures, the plant will die or need to be brought inside for protection against cold winters.
Blue Plumbago Overview
Blue Plumbago Quick Facts
|Scientific Name||Plumbago auriculata / Plumbago capensis|
|Type||Annual or perennial evergreen shrub|
|Common Names||Blue Plumbago, Cape Leadwort, Cape Plumbago, Sky Flower|
|Ideal Temperature||60-80° F|
|Toxicity||Toxic to people, non-toxic to animals|
|Humidity||Moderate to high humidity|
Caring for Your Blue Plumbago
This plant enjoys a good watering and can be watered freely throughout spring and summer when it can grow at quite a fast pace. The position of your Blue Plumbago will largely dictate how much you need to water it. When grown outside in its ideal warm climate in a position of full sun, the plant will need more water. Shaded plants, or those kept in slightly cooler temperatures will not require as much water.
Plumbagos can also be grown in containers, and these will need to be watered with more care than those growing directly in the ground. This is because plants growing in ground soil have more options available to them than container plants. Plumbagos planted in the ground can spread their roots further in search of moisture, while those grown in containers are confined to their space and therefore rely on you to supply them with adequate water.
Equally, container plants are more susceptible to root rot than those grown in the ground, as the soil holds on to moisture, with only the drainage holes for it to escape from, rather than having the depths of the ground to drain water away. For these reasons, Blue Plumbago grown in containers will need their watering schedule adjusted accordingly. Aim to keep their soil moist but not wet. That being said, established Plumbagos are fairly drought-resistant and will tolerate some neglect.
Blue Plumbagos, in general, are one of the easiest plants to grow, provided they are in warm temperatures, so don’t worry excessively about your watering schedule, with a thorough watering once a week during summer being perfectly acceptable. If your plant becomes dormant or grows very minimally over winter, you will need to greatly reduce watering or stop watering it altogether.
The Blue Plumbago plant was originally discovered in the hot environment of South Africa and has since been introduced to mild climates around the world, including Florida, Texas, California, Australia, and Spain(University of Florida- Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences- Gardening Solutions).
If you live in an area which is mild all year round, then this is the ideal growing environment for this plant. In warm temperatures, it is able to flower all year round. It can be grown in slightly cooler climates but will die off over winter and need to be cut right back to ground level, or if kept in a container, it can be brought inside throughout winter to avoid frost. The lowest temperature this plant can tolerate is around 32° F, so make preparations to protect your plant or winter it inside if your local climate typically drops below this over winter. In spring, the Blue Plumbago planted in the ground will usually come back to life and continue with its impressive growth. Container plants can be cut back before being moved back outside in warmer weather to stimulate growth.
If kept outside, the plumbago plant needs plenty of direct sunlight to flourish
As a native of South Africa, this plant is accustomed to a warm and bright climate. If kept outside, it will need to live in a spot with plenty of direct sunlight in order for it to really flourish. It will tolerate growing in shade, but this will come at the expense of flower production. If kept indoors, it will do best in the full sun of a conservatory or sunroom, or on a bright windowsill.
This plant loves high humidity and will do very well in climates which have naturally moist air. If you live in a warm and humid environment that enjoys a mild temperature all year round, then this is a great plant to have. It will tolerate moderate humidity though may lack some blooms as a result. Blue Plumbago plants grown in glasshouses, sunrooms, conservatories, or on bright windowsills, will benefit from frequent water mistings to keep the humidity up. If you have several humidity-loving plants in one room, then an electric humidifier might be useful to consistently keep humidity high without you having to make a continued effort.
Dry air will damage this plant, so if it is kept indoors, be sure to keep it away from heating vents, stoves, or any other items which could dry out the plant.
Blue Plumbago plants will benefit from a regular application of fertilizer during growing seasons. A fertilizer high in potassium will result in an abundance of lush flowers, while phosphorus will help the plant to develop a good root system, which is important for its overall growth and long-term health. The type of fertilizer you choose really comes down to personal preference.
If you prefer to feed your plants only occasionally and not have to worry about a frequent feeding schedule, then slow release fertilizer could be the best option for you. There are many types of fertilizer on the market to suit everyone’s budgets and requirements. You can be quite specific about the fertilizer you use on your plant, doing in-depth research to find the ideal proportions of nutrients, or you can buy a general all-purpose fertilizer. Go with whatever works best for your situation; just ensure that you are following the instructions on the bottle and getting your Plumbago the nutrients it needs.
The Blue Plumbago plant is a rapid grower, and, as such, will need to be kept in check with regular pruning if you don’t want it to get out of control. Without proper attention, the plant can grow in excess of ten feet tall and ten feet wide.
How you go about pruning your plant will depend on the type of style you are trying to achieve. While the Blue Plumbago is technically categorized as a shrub, it is most often used as a climber or trailing plant. It can also be very effectively used to create hedging. Pruning will also result in more blooms when you cut it back during its growing period, as flowers appear on the ends of new growth, so you can cut back your plant in an effort to encourage more flower production.
If you need to fill in space among your flower beds, plant the Blue Plumbago directly in the ground and allow it to spread. It will quickly cover ground and should be pruned back to prevent it from encroaching on other plants. With some encouragement in the right direction, it can fill vacant space very well.
When kept as a climbing plant it will need help from a trellis. If you are trying to get it to cover a particular space, you will need to guide it and prune it back where necessary. As a climber, it will grow rapidly and can become out of control easily if not pruned and tamed.
The Blue Plumbago also works well as a trailing plant, dripping out of the sides of hanging baskets. When used like this, the plant will need a lot of pruning to keep it looking neat; otherwise, it will become messy and unkempt.
The plant can be grown in a container and kept in pretty much any shape you wish. If heavily pruned, it will take the form of a shrub, but to achieve this might require heavy maintenance as the quick growing stems can easily become straggly. Once the Plumbago is happily growing as a shrub, you can prune it into your desired shape, and you will be rewarded with plentiful flowers on the cut ends, resulting in a very attractive feature plant.
As warm temperatures come to an end when autumn approaches, you will need to prune the Blue Plumbago right back to just an inch or two from the ground. If grown in soil outside, you can cover it to protect it from frost, and it will become dormant over winter. Remove the cover when mild temperatures return, and the plant will spring back to life over the course of a few weeks, becoming a rapidly growing plant again by summertime. If your Plumbago is kept outside in a container, then you have two options when the cooler months arrive. You can prune it right back to ground level and bring it inside to an area that is dark but not excessively cold. A basement or garage would be ideal.
At this point, some people cover the plant up, but this is really a personal preference and isn’t entirely necessary if the room is already dark. This process will allow the plant to become dormant and rest over winter, and you can take it back outside and resume normal care in springtime. Alternatively, if you have the space, you can bring the plant into your home to enjoy throughout fall and winter.
If it has been allowed to grow throughout spring and summer, then it will likely need heavily pruning in order to make it a manageable size to bring inside. As the plant will likely not grow much more once you bring it inside, don’t prune it severely; otherwise, it may not look very pleasant to keep in your home throughout winter. Cut it to an acceptable size and move it to a warm and bright spot inside, such as on a windowsill or in a sunroom. Don’t worry if you do over prune, as the plant will recover well in spring and continue growth.
If your Blue Plumbago lives in a container, you will need to repot it every two to three years. The plant grows rapidly and can quite quickly fill its pot with roots and become root-bound. In order to allow your plant to stay healthy and continue to grow year after year, repot it when it is struggling for space in its container.
The best time to do this is either at the beginning of spring before you move the Blue Plumbago back outside, or in early autumn when you bring the plant inside to overwinter it. At both of these times, the plant should have been cut back and will be small enough to make handling much easier. To see if your plant requires repotting, firmly hold the base of the plant and gently tug until the root ball and its soil comes loose from the pot. You should quickly be able to see how condensed the roots are and if they need more space. If you are unable to remove the plant from its container with ease, then this is probably because the roots are so tightly packed that they have become jammed in the pot, and is a definite sign that you should repot your plant.
To repot the Blue Plumbago, gently remove it from its current container and rub the roots between your fingers to loosen them and allow any of the old soil to break free and be removed. Remove as much old soil as you can without harming the root structure. Select a new container one or two sizes bigger than the current one and fill the bottom with a well-draining soil, ideally with some sand mixed in to increase drainage efficiency. Place the root ball of your plant on top of the soil, then gently pack more soil in all around the edges. The plant should sit at the sand height in the pot as it did in its last pot. Water the plant heavily and then continue care as normal.
The Blue Plumbago plant can be easily propagated using wood cuttings, so if you already have one of these plants, then you could also have an endless supply of new Blue Plumbagos to have in different areas or to gift to friends.
To propagate, you will need around a four or five-inch stem cutting from a woody part of the plant. Cut it from the mother plant using sharp shears at a 45-degree angle, creating more surface area from which roots can grow. Dip the cut end of the stem in rooting hormone to encourage the cutting to develop roots, and plant it into a small pot filled with potting soil. Keep the soil continually moist without allowing it to become wet, and place it in a shaded area. Heating the cutting from underneath will help roots to develop, though it is best to propagate this plant in the summer when temperatures are ordinarily higher.
Within four weeks your cutting should have the early stages of a root system. You will know if roots have developed if you gently tug on the cutting and feel some resistance. If the cutting can be easily pulled from the soil, then it doesn’t yet have roots. Once you have evidence of roots, you can transplant the cutting to a bigger pot and let it grow into a new Blue Plumbago in its own right. When the plant reaches a good size, it can be transferred to a more permanent spot, either directly in the ground or into a container.
All elements of this plant are toxic to humans, including the sap, fruit, pollen, seeds, bark, roots, and foliage (Gardeners World). When handling the plant, you should always wear protective gloves and have your arms covered with long-sleeved clothing. Try to keep your face away from the plant and consider wearing protective eyewear. If the toxins come into contact with the skin or eyes, you can expect to suffer from irritation and blistering. It is also harmful if ingested, potentially causing vomiting and an upset stomach.
Interestingly, the plant is not reported to be toxic to animals, so while you might want to keep your distance from the Blue Plumbago, you can allow your pets to roam freely near it. Take particular care to keep this plant away from children.
Q: Why is my plumbago shrub not doing well?
Q: Why is my plumbago shrub not doing well? I have seen the one in the UF/IFAS Nassau County Demonstration Garden and the ones at your Yulee satellite office. They all look beautiful. What am I doing wrong?
A: It helped to have a clipping of your shrub because I was able to detect mites which contributed to the shrub’s decline. Consider some light pruning to remove heavy infestations on the limb tips along with horticulture oil sprayed directly on the plant leaves and stems. In addition, applying imidacloprid as a soil drench around the root area should help you control the mites. This chemical is taken up by the roots and goes through the vascular system ending up in the leaves and flowers. When the insect feeds on the plant tissue they take up the chemical and die. We would not recommend you use this on all your plants but only those having insect infestations. Both the horticulture oil and imidacloprid can be found at most any garden center.
Plumbago, Plumbago auriculata, is best grown in zones 9-11. Remember those of you along the east part of I-95 are in cold hardiness zone 9a while those of you on the west part are in 8b. This means plumbago may die back completely if temperatures become too cold for long periods of time. In your case, since you are in zone 8b, this plant is slightly out of its comfort zone. This may place some undue stress on the plant making it may be more susceptible to insects or disease. But do not be discouraged as it may well survive in your area although it does have one strike against it. Be sure to protect plumbago if temperatures drop below 32 degrees, especially during its first few years in the ground. Allow for plenty of room as it can reach heights of up to 10 feet with an equal spread. This makes it a poor specimen for directly up against the house.
Plumbago prefers part shade to part sun but I have seen it planted in full sun with some success too. Its periwinkle blue flowers are unusual in the plant kingdom making it a prized plant. The flowers bloom from spring through the fall. Plumbago is slightly drought tolerant but does not need to be watered as often as lawn grass. It can live in most any soil condition making a wonderful plant for new home sites. However, if the soil pH is too alkaline the leaves will turn yellow from mineral deficiencies. There is a white flowered plumbago cultivar called ‘Alba’.
Posted: July 9, 2017
Category: Home Landscapes, Pests & Disease
Tags: mites, plumbago, Plumbago auriculata, shrub
Plumbago is a superb vine noted both for its flowers and for its foliage.
Shortlist of Plumbago facts
Name – Plumbago capensis
Family – Plumbaginaceae
Type – shrub
Height – 3 to 6 ½ feet (1 to 2 meters)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – ordinary
Foliage – semi-evergreen
Flowering – May to November
Caring for this plant, from planting to pruning, are good practices that will help you obtain a beautiful blooming.
Favor planting plumbago in spring in a place with a lot of sun.
When not in this season, simply avoid high temperatures to plant your plumbago.
- A mix of soil mix and garden soil is needed.
- Frequent watering after planting is required.
- Follow our advice on planting shrubs
Plumbago grown in pots
It is advised to plant your plumbago in good flower plant soil mix.
- Pour a layer of clay pebbles at the bottom of the pot to increase drainage and therefore growth of your plumbago.
- Regular watering upon planting is a must.
- It is advised to repot every 2 years for the blooming to stay beautiful.
Caring for plumbago
It isn’t really a requirement to prune.
Annual pruning is eventually possible at the end of winter or at the beginning of spring, proceed lightly in order to stimulate the blooming and preserve the shape.
Plumbago, apart from watering after planting, will need a lot of water when the weather is hot, especially if grown in a pot.
- Water regularly, but not too much, from May to September.
- Reduce the watering in water.
- In spring and summer, take the time to add a little flower plant fertilizer every now and then.
For the best growth and an abundant blooming, add flower plant fertilizer or shrub fertilizer every two weeks in spring and summer.
Stop adding fertilizer as soon as your plumbago has stopped blooming.
A disease that impacts plumbago
Although it generally resists diseases well, plumbago regularly experiences aphid onslaughts.
- Read our page on fighting aphids.
Learn more about plumbago
You can set it up in your garden if the climate is mild enough. Double-check that this is possible, because plumbago is vulnerable to frost and will suffer if temperatures drop below 32°F (0°C).
But it is particularly well-suited to growing in pots, which will make it easy to bring them indoors to a cool spot that is sheltered from the harshest colds over winter.
Lastly, if you wish to train it into a climbing vine, you can attach it to a lattice because it won’t cling to the wall on its own.
In our latitudes, when grown in a pot, a plumbago plant can reach anywhere from 3 to 6 ½ feet (1 to 2 m), whereas it easily rises to 13 to 17 feet (4 to 5 m) in its natural environment.
Smart tip about plumbago
If you place it next to a footpath, be ready to spend your time picking seeds from your clothes! They’re light and covered with small hooks and will stick to your clothing.
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Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Intense blue plumbago (also on social media) by Sittichok Glomvinya under license
Light blue plumbago by Etha under Pexels license