Plumbago auriculata
Common Name: Cape leadwort
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Plumbaginaceae
Native Range: South Africa
Zone: 8 to 11
Height: 1.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: Flowers freely
Bloom Description: Pale blue
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Evergreen
Fruit: Showy

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 8-11 where it grows best in organically rich, fertile, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. In St. Louis, grow in pots/containers which must be overwintered indoors. May be grown as a rounded shrub or trained with ties on a trellis as a vine. Site in locations protected from strong winds. During the growing season, it does best in consistently moist soils, but established plants are quite tolerant of some drought. When overwintering as a houseplant, bring indoors before first fall frost to a bright sunny room. Cut back stems hard in late winter to encourage new growth for the coming season. When overwintering as a dormant plant, cut stems back and store in a cool, dry, dark corner of a basement or frost-free garage. May be easily grown from seed, but plants generally will not flower until the second year.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Plumbago auriculata, commonly called cape leadwort or cape plumbago, Native to South Africa. It is a weak-stemmed perennial evergreen shrub that grows 6-7’ tall and 8-10’ wide in its native habitat. When grown in containers in St. Louis, it more typically will grow 1-3’ per year and is often kept relatively compact through periodic prunings and/or a hard annual pruning. Features clusters (terminal racemes) of pale blue phlox-like flowers that bloom freely throughout the growing season. Flowers are followed by barbed fruit capsules. Oblong to oblanceolate green leaves (to 3” long) have ear-shaped bases, hence the species name. Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, a low-growing ground cover that is winter hardy to St. Louis and is grown at the Kemper Center, is in the same family as the within plant and is commonly called plumbago.

Genus name comes from the Latin name derived from plumbum meaning lead and ago a termination of many Latin plant names used to indicate a resemblance or a property.

Specific epithet refers to the ear-shaped bases of the leaves.

Problems

Watch for whiteflies, spider mites and mealy bugs on indoor plants. For more information see: Problems Common to Many Indoor Plants

Garden Uses

Commonly grown in the tropics or subtropics as a low hedge, ground cover or on fences. In St. Louis, grow in pots/containers for patios, decks or other sunny areas around the home or sink to the rim in garden areas. Houseplant.