Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) is a beautiful evergreen climbing plant with clusters of blue or white blooms and glossy green spatulate leaves. Blue plumbago, with pale blue five-petaled flowers, is the most popular cultivar. Only brilliant snow-white flower heads distinguish the white plumbago (Plumbago auriculata ‘Alba). You may keep plumbago as a potted plant in colder areas.
Plumbago can be an annual or herbaceous flowering perennial depending on your climate. The vine-like stems of the spreading plant may stretch up to 15 feet (4.5 meters) tall, and it can grow to be up to 8 feet (2.4 meters) broad. Plumbago is a huge, arching growth shrub with broadleaf evergreen leaves.
This is a how-to guide for growing plumbago plants, which may be used to enhance your garden scenery. You’ll get advice on cultivating blue plumbago in pots, as well as tips on how to cope with certain cultivation problems, in this book.
How to Care for Plumbago auriculata (Cape Plumbago)
The scrambling shrub should be grown in full to partial sunlight to care for plumbago plants. Plumbago thrives on well-drained, organically rich soil. In hot weather, especially, water the plant sufficiently to keep the earth moist. In early spring, prune the vining plumbago stems to keep the plant neat.
Plumbago auriculata blossoms range in hue from blue to purple and white, depending on the cultivar. Five-petaled flowers grow in attractive clusters and have five petals. From 1″ to 3″ (2.5 – 7.5 cm) wide, the blue and white flowers are small. From spring through fall, Plumbago blossoms bloom.
Butterfly pollinators are drawn to the attractive clusters (terminal racemes) of white, soft purple, and pale or darker blue flowers. Prolific blooming all summer can be encouraged by regular pruning to brighten up your garden.
About Blue Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata)
Blue plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) is a perennial or annual evergreen shrub with sky-blue flowers. Phlox-like lilac-blue blooms and thick green foliage are two of its attractive characteristics. At the end of thin stems, luscious blossoms bloom. The oblong obovate (spoon-shaped) leaves of blue plumbago are simple and alternate.
In USDA zones 9 through 11, blue plumbago thrives and is easy to care for. The tall, spreading plant has a rounded development style and may reach up to 10 feet (3 meters) in height and breadth. The climbing vines, on the other hand, may develop to be taller.
Dwarf plumbago or hardy plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides) is a low ground cover perennial with similar flowers and leaves that grows only up to 1 ft. (30 cm) high and 1.5 ft. (45 cm) broad. It should not be confused with Plumbago auriculata.
The ear-like form of the leaves earned this Plumbago species the botanical name auriculata (meaning “with ears”). Plumbago capensis was the scientific name for it at one time. Skyflower, cape leadwort, and cape plumbago are some other names for Plumbago auriculata.
Imperial Blue Plumbago: Deep sky-blue flower clusters bloom throughout the summer until autumn in the cultivar Plumbago auriculata ‘Imperial Blue.’ Full sun, blooming hedgerows, or an upright shrub are all appropriate locations for the Imperial Blue plumbago. In addition, this tiny plant thrives in pots.
White Plumbago (White Cape Leadwort)
The pure white flowers on the plumbago (Plumbago auriculata ‘Alba’) plant are made up of five petals and have white flower clusters. The white cape plumbago has a shrub-like growth and lengthy, thin trailing stems, much like the blue plumbago.
White plumbago blooms continuously in warm climates. This mounding shrub may be grown as an annual or container plant in colder climates. White cape plumbago grows in zones 9 through 11, much like blue plumbago. In warmer parts of zone 8, though, it may tolerate additional winter protection.
Blue Plumbago and White Plumbago Care Guide
In the following guide, we’ll learn how to cultivate blue plumbago or white plumbago in your outdoor scenery. Growing cape plumbago or cape leadwort is simple when you follow the instructions.
Where to Plant Blue Plumbago and White Plumbago
In warm areas, plumbago auriculata may be grows as a border plant, informal hedge row, or as a foundation plant. Remember that plumbago plants need a lot of space to expand when picking a location to cultivate them. Plant it in the brightest location of your front or backyard, where there is rich, well-drained soil.
This is the optimum spot. Because plumbago is a multipurpose plant, it may be used in a landscape in a variety of ways. Its lovely blue blooms and light green leaves are versatile.
As foundation plants or to cover an unsightly wall or fence, white or blue plumbago plants are ideal. The big climbing stems may cascade down walls, creating a white or blue waterfall effect with their lush green leaves and bright phlox blooms. You may create a perennial blooming informal hedgerow by putting plumbago plants roughly 12 feet (3.6 m) apart.
Instead, you may use cape plumbago as a fast-growing ground cover or as a privacy hedge with spreading stems. Plumbago can be grown indoors from late fall until early spring in containers if you live in temperate climates and want to winterize them.
Plumbago Light Requirements
Full sun or partial shade are ideal for plumbago plants. It’s best to grow it where it gets some afternoon shade in the hottest climates, such as zone 11. The trailing stems produce a lot of blue or white flower clusters when grown in full sun. You may have to water the shrubs more often during hot, sunny weather.
Cape plumbago should receive six to eight hours of sunlight every day. You may observe that there is more foliage than flowers if the scrambling shrub receives less than six hours of sunlight. Place the potted plant in a bright, sunny room if you want to grow cape leadwort indoors.
The Best Soil for Cape Plumbago
In organically rich, well-draining soil, blue or white plumbago grows well. You can add organic matter to the soil by altering it with peat moss and compost. Gravel or perlite should be added to the earth for drainage. Plumbago prefers moist, not waterlogged soil, despite the fact that it is drought tolerant.
The ideal condition for water to drain well from a growing spot is to keep the soil reasonably loamy. The soil becomes more acidic and retains moisture when organic material is added, making it ideal for growing cape plumbago in the ground.
It requires a loamy, well-draining potting soil that is supplemented with peat moss and perlite while cultivating blue plumbago in containers.
How to Water Plumbago Plants
Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged when caring for your plumbago plant. Plumbago thrives when it is watered sufficiently to make the earth damp but not soggy after it has established. To keep the earth moist in summer, you may have to water it thoroughly once a week. You may water less often in the winter.
The perennial plant Plumbago thrives in drought conditions. As a result, it can sustain some short dry spells as long as you wet the soil on occasion. You may skip watering until early spring if the plant goes dormant in the winter. To help the root system develop in the ground, you’ll need to water a freshly-planted plumbago shrub frequently. This may necessitate watering every week or more. However, don’t let the plants get drowned in water.
Temperature Requirements to Grow Plumbago in the Ground
USDA zones 9 through 11 are ideal for Plumbago auriculata, a heat-loving perennial. If you have chilly temperatures of 50°F to 65°F (10°C to 18°C) throughout the winter, plumbago may be grown in the earth all year. If there’s a light frost in zone 8 during the winter, you may have to cover the plant.
Plumbago plants will perish if the weather gets too cold or chilly. You’ll have to winterize the plant indoors or cut it back to the ground and cover it with a lot of mulch if temperatures drop below 32°F (0°C). In USDA zones 4 through 7, you may alternatively cultivate plumbago as an annual.
Top care tip for growing plumbago: Water the plumbago more often if the weather is hot and dry, keeping it alive.
Humidity for Growing Plumbago Plants in the Garden
Plumbago auriculata plants prefer high humidity levels. You’ll have no problems growing plumbago in your front or backyard if you live in a warm, humid climate. The plant keeps blooming all summer and well into the fall due to the high air moisture levels.
Cape plumbago or cape leadwort thrives in Florida, Louisiana, and California because they like humidity. You’ll need to raise indoor humidity levels if you reside in colder climates and cultivate blue plumbago indoors. Many tropical evergreen perennials cannot survive in dry household air.
How to Fertilize Plumbago auriculata
Monthly fertilizing is beneficial to plumbago plants because of their quick development. Early spring can be used to apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer. You can apply a diluted fertilizer every six weeks until early fall, approximately two months later. You might add a teaspon of fish emulsion to each gallon (3.7 l) of fertilizer liquid to help the plants bloom all summer long.
Top care tip for fertilizing plumbago plants: When the blooming stops, stop fertilizing plumbago plants.
Pruning Blue Plumbago Plants
Blue plumbago needs frequent trimming to maintain its form and encourage bushy growth with numerous blossoms as part of its regular care. Late winter or early spring is the best time to trim plumbago’s trailing woody branches. To maintain the shrub’s form, you may also trim it lightly throughout the growing season.
Cut back blue plumbago branches by a third, just above a bud or lateral connection, to prune it. Trimming back dead branches to the root is also a good idea. All leggy stems that detract from the plumbago’s form should be removed as well.
You should deadhead your plumbago plant throughout the season if you want to encourage a lot of flowers. To encourage fresh floral growth on the plant, remove spent blooms. Six weeks before the first frost date, stop deadheading.
Propagating Blue Plumbago
To propagate blue plumbago plants, take stem cuttings in the summer. 45° angle on a four- or five-inch (10-13 cm) woody stem piece. Put the severed end in a tiny pot with an appropriate potting mix and dip it into some rooting hormone. Place it in a warm, shaded area with a plastic bag over it. To keep the ground moist, mist it on a regular basis. Roots should emerge in around four weeks.
You can move the propagated plumbago cutting into a bigger pot after it has been rooted. You may move the fledgling plant to your garden or a bigger container when it is thriving.
Replanting Plumbago Plants
When the soil temperature is at least 50°F (10°C), you can transplant a plumbago plant to your garden. Work in a few inches of organic compost in a sunny area of your garden hole. Fill in the remaining space and press down firmly on the root ball before placing it in the hole. Water thoroughly until any air pockets are eliminated, and then water every few days until the plant becomes rooted in the environment.
How to Grow Plumbago as a Container Plant
Use a one-part houseplant soil, one-part peat moss, and one-part perlite potting medium to cultivate plumbago in a pot. Only when the top 2 inches (5 cm) of soil is dry should you water the plumbago. In bright, indirect sunlight, keep it warm and sheltered. The pot size of Cape plumbago will keep the shrub from becoming too big, and it is an excellent container plant.
Top care tip for growing plumbago in pots: You may have to water a potted plumbago plant more often than garden shrubs depending on the weather.
Pests Affecting Plumbago Growth
Most garden pests and common houseplant bugs are resistant to Plumbago auriculata. The foliage of a plant can be infested with whiteflies. The leaves wither, turn brown, and fall due to the activity of these little white flies. Hosing plumbago plants clean with a strong stream of water is one way to get rid of insects like whitefly. Instead, to kill whitefly, you can mist a neem oil solution over the leaves.
Diseases Affecting Plumbago Growth
Plumbago is a disease-resistant garden shrub that requires little care. If you overwater it or there isn’t adequate ground drainage, the only problem you may have is with this shrub. If the roots of a plant sit in waterlogged soil, root rot can affect its growth. Only water plumbago when the soil appears dry, since it is particularly drought resistant. In this manner, you reduce your chances of contracting illness.
Top plumbago care tip: Do not spray water onto the leaves while watering the plant. The leaves may be scorched by the intense heat. Excessive moisture on leaves can cause powdery mildew in humid conditions.
Is Plumbago auriculata Toxic?
The poisonous plant Plumbago auriculata (cape leadwort or cape plumbago) Sap from the plant’s stems or leaves, according to researchers at the University of California, may cause dermatitis, severe skin rashes, and discomfort.
FAQs About Plumbago Care
How do I stop plumbago from spreading?
Plumbago isn’t a invasive plant, according to the US Department of Agriculture. It is simple to prune, despite its quick spread via rhizome roots and suckers. Prune plumbago hard in late winter or early spring to prevent it from spreading too much.
Why is my blue plumbago dying?
Nevertheless, there are a few problems that may cause the leaves to wilt, brown, and die. Despite the fact that blue plumbago is a rather simple plant to maintain. Poor drainage is the most frequent cause of death in plumbago plants. By not overwatering plants, you’ll avoid the majority of problems.
Shock and flowers dying and leaves wilting are possible symptoms of transplanting plumbago plants in hot weather. By cutting dead blooms and branches, and ensuring that the plumbago shrub grows in damp soil, you may revitalize a dying plumbago shrub.
A plumbago plant may be killed by severe frost. Cut the stems back to healthy growth or the ground after the last frost in late winter or early spring. New growth will appear in the spring if the roots are undamaged.
How do I winterize cape plumbago?
You can overwinter cape plumbago plants in USDA zones 4 through 8 by cutting off the stems, digging up the roots, and storing them in a cold, dry, dark frost-free environment.