Blue plumbago

Wangaratta Chronicle - North East Regional Extra - - Regional Extra - WITH DEBBI GIBSON, HOR­TI­CUL­TUR­AL­IST

FEW plants can sur­vive droughts, frosts, poor soils, very lit­tle main­te­nance and still man­age to flower for nearly six months of the year.

One plant that does all this is Plumbago.

Plumbago au­ric­u­lata is an ex­traor­di­nar­ily adapt­able plant that bears a pro­fu­sion of pretty, blue phlox-like flow­ers from late spring through to early au­tumn.

They have small roundish green leaves that can take on a slight red or yel­low color in the colder months.

The species name, plumbago is de­rived from the Latin word plumbum, which means lead and refers to the lead blue flower color.

The flow­ers vary in shades from dark blue to baby blue.

A white form, ‘Alba’, is also stun­ning and con­trasts well with the blue forms.

Plumba­gos are na­tive to South Africa, Cen­tral Amer­ica, and South­ern Asia, so are well equipped to sur­vive our sum­mer heat­waves with lit­tle stress.

These peren­nial shrubs are not too fussy about po­si­tion; they bloom best in full sun but also do well in part shade or dap­pled shade.

They grow in poor soils, don’t need any sup­ple­men­tary feed­ing and need lit­tle wa­ter once es­tab­lished.

Plumba­gos re­quire very lit­tle main­te­nance.

They don’t need to be pruned to flower and have no pest or dis­ease prob­lems.

Ma­ture plumbago leaves some­times have a whitish residue on their un­der­sides, which looks like pow­dery mildew, but is ac­tu­ally a nat­u­ral ex­cre­tion from chalk glands in their leaves.

Plumba­gos are ver­sa­tile and can be grown as a shrub and trimmed oc­ca­sion­ally or left to sprawl on the ground, along fences or over a wall.

They can be grown as a hedge or es­paliered.

And they re­spond well to a hard cut back if needed.

For a touch of blue in the gar­den, Plumbago au­ric­u­lata is a worth­while choice.

It’s beau­ti­ful, tough and very low main­te­nance.

Happy gar­den­ing.

Catch Debbi Gibson’s ‘In Your Gar­den’ pro­gram on 1566 3NE ev­ery Satur­day morn­ing from 8 to 9am. Call in your en­quiries on 5722 2999.

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