23 August, 2023

I purple you. Plumbago auriculata

Chiang Mai Urban Farm
Plumbago auriculata, commonly known as Cape leadwort or blue plumbago, is a flowering plant native to South Africa. It belongs to the Plumbaginaceae family and is well-regarded for its attractive blue flowers and its ability to thrive in warm climates. Here are some key features and characteristics of Plumbago auriculata:

This evergreen shrub, native to South Africa, has long, skinny stems and phlox-like pale blue flowers. Appearance: Plumbago auriculata is a sprawling, woody shrub that can reach heights of 6 to 10 feet (2 to 3 meters) with a similar spread. It has glossy green leaves that are often oval or heart-shaped with a tapering tip, hence the species name "auriculata" (which means "ear-shaped"). The most notable feature is its profusion of delicate, five-petaled, tubular flowers that are typically sky blue or pale blue in color. There are also varieties with white or pink flowers.

It can be used as a shrub, climber, pot plant, or groundcover.
Flowering: The plant produces flowers throughout the year, but its peak blooming period is during the warmer months. The flowers are borne in clusters at the tips of the branches and attract butterflies and other pollinators.
Climate and Growing Conditions: Plumbago auriculata thrives in warm, subtropical, and tropical climates. It is commonly grown in regions with mild winters and can be sensitive to frost. It prefers full sun to partial shade and well-draining soil.

Cape plumbago can be grown as an annual, or in a container as a perennial, that is brought indoors and placed in a bright sunny room for the colder months.
Landscape Use: This plant is often used for landscaping purposes due to its vibrant flowers and ability to cover unsightly areas. It can be grown as a ground cover, hedge, or trained to climb on trellises or fences. Its sprawling growth habit also makes it suitable for hanging baskets.
Maintenance: Plumbago auriculata is relatively low-maintenance once established. Regular watering is needed during its establishment phase, but it becomes more drought-tolerant as it matures. Pruning can be done to shape the plant and encourage bushier growth, typically in late winter or early spring.

Water container plants sparingly in the winter.
Propagation: It can be propagated from stem cuttings or seeds. Stem cuttings are often the preferred method because they tend to root quickly and reliably.
Caution: While Plumbago auriculata is prized for its beauty, it's important to note that all parts of the plant are considered toxic if ingested, so it should be kept out of reach of children and pets.

If treated as a perennial, cut back in late winter to encourage new growth for the upcoming season.

It can also be cut back in the winter and stored in a cool, dark environment.

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