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Plumbago in the Garden

Plumbago in the Garden

Say hello to the magnificent Plumbago! This green sensation is a globetrotter with ten species, but five of them are proudly South African. This indigenous scrambling shrub is like the superhero of gardens, wearing a cape of vibrant blue colours from "Royal Cape" to a breezy sky blue. There's even a white form, because every superhero needs a costume change now and then.

How to grow plumbago

Now, let's talk about growing this green powerhouse. Plumbago is the superhero you want in your corner – it's practically the Hulk of the plant world, drought-resistant, and faster than a speeding weed. Give it some space, and it'll cover your garden like it's training for a botanical marathon. If you allow it to scramble, it can reach about 3m x 3m within 6 – 12 months of planting. 

Pro tip: If you want to keep it from going full Tarzan on you, a bit of villain-style pruning might be in order. Plumbago loves a good trim and does a good job of bouncing back quickly. 

Plant it in full sun or semi-shade. In cooler, inland regions, it should be grown in a warm and protected position. If you don’t want it getting too untidy, or running all over the place, a spot of prodigious pruning may be necessary. It responds well to being cut back, so is ideal as a hedge. Although it may get damaged a bit in colder areas during the winter months as it is somewhat frost tender, it will quickly regrow. Just give it water a couple of times a month along with some general purpose fertiliser after pruning and it will be bearing flowers in no time at all. The best time to prune would be in early spring which will encourage growth and a profusion of flowers.  

All plumbago needs is well composted soil, no matter whether it’s sandy, clay or loamy – it will grow in anything. Easily propagated from seed, cuttings and rooted suckers which come from the mother plant, all you need to take care of is that the soil you’re growing in doesn’t dry out. If you want you can grow it in a large pot, but be rigorous with your pruning so it doesn’t do more than just spill over the sides.

Birds, bees and butterflies love plumbago

There’s more, plumbago isn't just a plant; it's a party for bees, butterflies and birds. It's like the VIP section of the garden where all the cool creatures hang out. Use plumbago to create the perfect ‘exclusion zone’ for them.

Plumbago uses and name meaning

Hold onto your gardening gloves, the plumbago saga continues. Its name, plumbago, comes from the Latin word 'plumbum,' meaning 'lead.' Legend has it that it was the cure for lead poisoning – move over, Dr. House! Not only does it fight lead poisoning (allegedly), but has also been known to work its magic as a traditional remedy for warts, broken bones, and bad dreams.

In your garden, plumbago is as versatile as a chameleon at a colour-themed party. It can scramble, be pruned into a hedge, cover ground like a pro, or even stand tall as a trellis-climbing superstar. With so many reasons to love the evergreen plumbago, you can enjoy its purposeful beauty along with the beautiful butterflies, buzzing bees and busy birds. 

Cheers to plumbago, the unsung hero of South African gardens!

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