By Jennifer Poindexter
Are you looking for a unique flowering shrub? The plumbago plant can work in most climates as a perennial or annual.
This plant is an attention-grabber because of its gorgeous colors and ability to grow in a variety of settings. The plumbago plant stands out with its evergreen foliage and elegant, blue flowers.
Whether you need a climbing plant, cascading plant, or a shrub, the plumbago plant could suit your needs. Here’s how you can grow it around your home:
Growing Conditions for the Plumbago Plant
The plumbago plant can grow in a variety of conditions. It isn’t fussy and, for this reason, can be used as a houseplant or grown outdoors.
Its growing conditions will vary depending upon where the plant will be utilized. The plumbago plant is actually a bush. It can grow to be 10 feet in height and width. Therefore, if raising it in its natural form, the plant will need room to sprawl out.
However, the plumbago plant can be raised as ground cover, to climb a trellis, in a container, or flow downward from a hanging basket. As already mentioned, you can even raise it as a houseplant.
If being raised outdoors, it will need full to partial sunlight and well-draining soil. It prefers nutrient-dense soil but doesn’t require it. This plant will grow in loamy or clay dirt as well.
The plumbago plant is a perennial in planting zones nine through 11. However, it can still be planted in ground (with specific care) in planting zones seven and eight.
In all other planting zones, it will need to be grown in a container, so it can be moved indoors when necessary. If growing indoors, be sure to place in a sunny window to supply adequate lighting.
Don’t be overwhelmed with the idea of growing a giant bush in your home. When growing in a planter, you can prune (and train) it to where the plumbago plant will only be approximately three feet tall and four feet wide. We’ll discuss pruning in a later section.
The plant is drought-tolerant but still needs a humid grow space. If growing indoors, you can spritz the plant with water or place it in a humid room in the house such as a bathroom.
However, be sure to avoid placing the plant near a cook stove, wood stove, or any other form of heating unit. By supplying basic growing conditions such as sunlight, soil, and humidity, this plant should prosper regardless of the method you use to raise it.
How to Plant the Plumbago Plant
Planting plumbago is not difficult. If you’re planting it in the ground, find a location which meets the necessary growing conditions.
Dig a hole deep enough to support the plant’s root system. Mix compost into your soil during the time of planting.
Place the plant in the hole and fill it back up with quality, well-draining soil (if possible). Make sure you water the shrub after planting.
If you’re growing the plumbago plant in a container, ensure the planter is large enough to support the root system.
It’s a good idea to give the plant a container where there’s room to grow in the coming years. If you’re concerned about water drainage in your pot, ensure there are holes in the bottom.
You can also add small pebbles to help encourage drainage and keep the plant from becoming soggy. Fill the container to the halfway point with soil, place the plant, and finish filling the rest of the planter with soil.
Once you have established plumbago plants, you can propagate to grow even more. The most common form of propagation is via cuttings.
Start the propagation process by removing a five-inch cutting from the adult plant. This will be the woody area on the plant.
Be sure to cut at an angle because this will give a greater surface area for sprouting a new root system. Dip the cutting into rooting hormone.
Place the cutting into a pot filled with soil. Spritz the pot with water on a consistent basis. Be careful not to overwater.
You want the soil to remain moist without becoming soggy. It’s best to propagate during the summer months due to the warmth in most areas. It should take the cutting approximately one month to form roots.
Once the roots have formed, plant the cutting in its own container and allow it to grow. These are a few methods you can use to grow plumbago plants in or around your home.
How to Care for the Plumbago Plant
The plumbago plant needs considerably basic care to thrive and produce beauty for you in a multitude of settings. To begin, the plant needs water.
Though it is drought tolerant, if you can provide the necessary water, you should. Use the knuckle test when unsure if your plant needs more water.
Place your finger into the soil next to your plant. If the soil is wet to your first knuckle, the plant doesn’t need further watering.
If the soil is dry to your first knuckle, it’s time to have a deep watering session with your plant. This means you water for longer periods, fewer days of the week. This moistens the ground down to the roots of the plant and supplies an adequate amount of water.
Once the watering is under control, it’s time to address fertilizing the plant. Plumbago doesn’t need to be fertilized regularly.
In fact, you can fertilize the plant one time in the spring, and it shouldn’t need it again for the rest of the grow season.
If growing your plumbago plant in a container, it should be repotted every third year. Do this during the early spring, as the plant is waking up.
If spring gets too busy, and you miss your window, you can repot the plant in the fall as it’s becoming dormant.
The plant will become rootbound around the third year. Examine the plant by gently tugging on it. If the plant won’t budge from or struggles to move in the container, chances are, the roots are bound.
Carefully, remove the plant from its current container and transplant into a larger container. You’ll perform this task as you did during your initial planting.
Pruning is another big-ticket item when it comes to caring for a plumbago plant. If you’re allowing your plumbago to run as ground cover, you can avoid pruning all together.
If you desire for your plumbago to be a shrub, you’ll need to prune heavily and frequently to train it. Once the plant is trained, you can prune to shape as desired.
By planting plumbago in a container or hanging basket, you’ll need to prune frequently to control its size.
The most important task to caring for plumbago is how to handle it over winter. If you live in planting zones nine through 11, you don’t need to worry about overwintering.
This plant is hardy and will even bloom year-round for you. However, if you live in other planting zones, you must care for your plumbago plant, or it won’t make it over the winter months.
In planting zones seven and eight, you can plant plumbago inground. However, you must cut the plant back to soil level before the first frost. After you’ve cut it back, cover it heavily in mulch to insulate.
If you have plumbago planted in a container, you must cut the plant back before the first frost as well. Bring the plant indoors and place it in a dark closet, basement, or even your garage.
Some people will even cover the plant with a dark trash bag to keep the light out. When you put the plant away, it will fall dormant.
Reduce the amount of water you give the plant over the winter months. When spring comes, uncover your plant, move it outdoors, give it more water, and fertilize it to encourage new growth.
By providing basic care to your plumbago plant, you should have beautiful, blue flowers brightening up your landscape in no time.
Garden Pests and Diseases for the Plumbago Plant
The plumbago plant is known for being, mostly, disease and pest resistant. There are a few items you should look for.
By handling problems quickly, you should minimize potential struggles when raising plumbago in or outside of your home.
The only pests you should be aware of are whiteflies and the larvae of Cassius blue butterflies. White flies will suck the sap from the foliage of your plant. You’ll know you have them when you begin spotting tiny white bugs on the leaves. You can spray your plant with insecticidal soap to treat this pest.
The larvae of the Cassius blue butterfly aren’t a typical pest. The butterflies lay their eggs on the foliage of the plant. When the eggs hatch, the larvae munch on the foliage.
If it’s a huge problem for your plant, you could spray the leaves with soapy water to remove the larvae. However, most people enjoy having butterflies around their home, so you might choose to let them be.
The only disease you should be aware of with the plumbago plant is root rot. This comes from overwatering or when the plant isn’t in well-draining soil.
This is common when growing plumbago in containers. Be mindful of the condition of your soil, and you should be able to avoid this problem.
The final condition to be aware of when dealing with plumbago is that this plant is toxic to people and animals in every way.
When handling plumbago be sure you cover yourself entirely. It can cause your skin to develop rashes and even blister. Use extreme caution when working with the plumbago plant.
Some of the hardest plants to handle are the easiest to grow, care for, and can provide a great deal of beauty to our landscape.
If you’re able to place plumbago out of the way in your home or yard (to avoid harm to people or pets), this plant could be a great choice for you.