coleus and Cape Plumbago intermingle for a
thrilling combination of color.
Cape Plumbago is like having your own personal ticket to
the butterfly wild kingdom. Not only will you be the
proprietor of the daily nectar cafe but depending on
where you live you will also be celebrating young ones
as this is a host plant for the Cassius Blue butterfly.
comes from someone who has become a recent butterfly
geek if you will, but if you are just a lover of color
then know you will be offered the rarest of blue for the
garden from late spring through frost. This means
whether you grow it as a returning perennial, shrub or
treat it as an annual all the while relishing in the
beauty of the sky blue flowers.
might wonder why I am touting it now. The answer is that
this native to South Africa is tough-as-nails and a
persevering performer even in the torrid temperatures so
prevalent during late August early September.
Botanically speaking it is known as Plumbago auriculata.
Its common names are leadwort, which I hate, Plumbago
which is OK and Cape Plumbago which I like best.
Cape Plumbago was chosen as a Texas Superstar in 2005
meaning it was promoted from the citrus area of the
Lower Rio Grande Valley to the far north reaches of the
Panhandle. This also demonstrates that it can be grown
in just about any good draining soil or pH.
are growing ours at the Coastal Georgia Botanical
Gardens as a 36-inch tall shrub in full sun. It blooms
on new growth and it will reward you with more blooms
anytime you feel the need to shape it or prune some
are very tolerable of a partial sun environment. We have
gotten to 18 and 22 degrees in two of the three winters
since Iíve been here and they have rebounded nicely.
Most sources promote root hardiness zone 8b but I can
tell those in colder zones are finding success with an
added layer of mulch in the winter. But donít forget
you can grow this rare-colored beauty as a terrific
sky blue color of the Cape Plumbago offers many choice
partnerships whether in mixed containers or in the
garden. Over the years Iíve seen them grown so
artistically with Pink Wave petunias, but my favorite
may be to see them combine with rustic orange from the
Beyond Paradise copper plant or the fairly new Campfire
coleus. There is just something special about this blue
much of the Savannah area deer have become way more than
a nuisance, and therefore it gives me great happiness to
say the Cape Plumbago is not on the menu. We are growing
ours with the yellow shrimp plant (Justicia brandegeeana)
and Black and Blue salvia (Salvia guaranitica) which are
also both deer resistant.
last few days weíve had the Cassius Blue butterfly
laying eggs, various swallowtails and then the yellow
Cloudless Sulphur butterfly, which seems to be natureís
version of the complementary color scheme. We have also
had the hummingbird clearwing a member of the hawkmoth
is one last Plumbago I want to mention, called
doctorbush and is known botanically as Plumbago scandens.
It is native to Arizona, Florida, and Texas and you
occasionally find it or the named selection Summer Snow
at specialty garden centers. When I was director of the
National Butterfly Center in Mission Texas it fulfilled
its mission too in bringing in all sorts of butterflies
including the Cassius Blue.
color, butterflies, deer resistance and a summer long
performance are all strong attributes of the
award-winning Cape Plumbago. I hope you will give it a
try and see if you agree that it is great value for your