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Plumbago auriculata Care Information
Please read these instructions carefully and keep somewhere safe for future reference
This scrambling, shrubby climber originally comes from South Africa but is often seen growing in frost free temperate regions. The powder blue flowers are arranged in terminal clusters on side shoots and at the end of the main branches. These branches are best tied on to a trellis or lateral wires fixed to a wall or fence so they can be spread out allowing maximum light an air circulation around the foliage.
Plumbagos are relatively easy to keep. They just have a few requirements. They need to be protected from frost in winter and although they can tolerate low temperatures they are not hardy. If growing in an unheated greenhouse it is advisable to cover with fleece when temperatures drop below freezing as frost can get in to an unheated greenhouse. An unheated conservatory normally provides enough protection but if your conservatory gets particularly cold or you live in a very cold region where temperatures fall well below freezing it is advisable to cover the plant with fleece.
In summer it is important to provide adequate ventilation and humidity to prevent the plant from becoming stressed, leaving it more prone to pests and disease. This goes for all plants grown under glass. Wherever possible leave all doors and windows open during the day and provide some humidity by damping down the floor or if this is not practical stand some shallow trays of water around.
Compost/ Potting up
Your Plumbago will eventually require a large pot but it is important not to put a young plant straight in to a large pot. Increase the pot size in stages by potting up each spring using a pot which is about 8 inches wider than the previous. You can work up to an eventual size of up to 24inches in diameter. Use John Innes No.3 loam based compost as this provides the nutrient and moisture retention properties required.
Feed plumbagos when they start into growth in the spring with a balanced liquid fertiliser such as liquid Growmore on a monthly basis. When in full leaf switch to a high potash feed such as Tomato feed to help support the plant during flowering. Stop feeding by the end of September and do not commence again until the spring.
In the wild Plumabgos scramble up through other plants, using them for support. Probably the best way to grow them is up against a trellis or horizontal wires attached to a wall. Fan the main shoots out tying them in to the support. This way you will get flowers along the branches on short side shoots rather than all at the top if you were to train the stems up vertically. In spring before the leaves emerge prune the side shoots coming off the main branches back to about 4 inches making sure to cut just above a bud. You want to retain the framework of main branches but remove any dead or damaged branches and train in new ones to replace. Every 3-5 years remove up to a third of the oldest branches.
Water as required, taking care not to over wet the compost particularly in winter. Generally speaking they will need more frequent watering in summer and much less in winter.
The wild species plumbago auriculata has pale blue flowers and can reach a height of around 20ft although this is much less when grown in a pot. Other forms available are;
P. auriculata f. alba – This is the white form of the wild species and can occur naturally when growing these from seed although more seedlings will be blue than white.
P. auriculata ‘Escapade Blue’- This is a cultivated variety that has a more compact growth habit reaching only 4-6 feet in height.
P. auriculata ‘Escapade White’- The white version of the above.
P. auriculata ‘Chrystal Waters’- This has a more similar habit to the wild species but with slightly darker blue flowers. It is also vegatively propagated so is more uniform than seed raised specimens of the wild species.