Plumbago auriculata (Leadwort)

20150908_103852Plumbago auriculata, commonly known as just Plumbago or Leadwort, is an ever blooming tropical shrub, that can be pruned and maintained at a desired size. Left to grow outside, it can reach 6 to 10ft in height, but remains much smaller when grown as a houseplant. In fact the plumbagos I have are constantly kept under 3 feet, and they don’t seem to mind it at all.

There are many cultivars out there for sale, some are smaller, some are white flowered or deeper blue flowered, though not all are year round bloomers. The one I have experience with is the Royal Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata ‘Monott’). It’s constantly covered with flowers. I grew it on an east facing window during the winter, as well as obscured west facing window, and it was flowering all throughout the winter months without a problem. One thing that can disturb the heavy blooming for some time is heavy pruning. Nevertheless, this plant does benefit from pruning. It not only helps maintain the desired shape and size,  but it also makes the plant denser and helps it bloom heavier. The plumbago mostly blooms from the tips of its branches.

This plant has gorgeous sky blue flowers and small light green leaves, making it look angelic. It’s also very easy to grow!Plumbago flower close up

Requirements:

Watering needs:

The Plumbago can tolerate some drought. It does like to have its soil dry out between watering, especially in the winter months.

You can read more about watering here.

Light:

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Plumbago flowers during the winter months

The higher the better, though this plant will still grow and flower at a part shade location. East/west/south windows will do best for this plant. I would recommend taking it outside at full sun during the warmer months. Remember to do that gradually. Taking your plant from the windowsill directly to full sun will burn the leaves.  Flowers are a bit paler in color when the light levels are lower. They do tend to get darker as the flowers age.

 

Humidity:

20150906_171040This plant can tolerate lower humidity levels, but seems to do better at higher humidity level, so occasional spraying will help out. In fact spraying the plant, especially during the winter months, seems to really help with flower production!

You can read more about humidity and tips on how to maintain it here.

Soil Type and Fertilizer:

Neutral to slightly acidic pH soil will do best for this plant. If the leaves start turning yellow, perhaps the pH of the soil is too high  or your plant doesn’t have enough manganese. I use generic fertilizer from spring to fall at a lower than the recommended concentration.

Propagation:

I haven’t been successful at rooting cuttings, though I have seen people mentioning it as a way to propagate this plant. Luckily it grows offshoots that can just be split of during re-potting. I will be trying out air-layering as I think it will definitely work out with this plant and I will let you know how it goes.

Other Care Tips and Personal Observations: 20150909_181646

Pruning and shaping the plant is needed as it tends to grow long leggy stems that start hanging low. This can definitely be trained to grow more upright or even grown in a hanging basket. It’s a wonderful plant and I highly recommend it. As the flowers age they tend to turn a bit darker shade of blue which is quite beautiful. Another thing about this plant is that it will require a bit of clean up. Dried and old leaves around the stem and old flowers can make a bit of a mess, so regularly picking those off will help out.

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