Plumbago - Plumbago auriculata

Plumbago - Plumbago auriculata

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Deciduous climbing shrub native to Africa, some species of plumbago are native to southern Europe. It has thin, semi-woody stems, which can reach lengths close to 1.5-2 meters, but which are usually kept more compact with autumn prunings; the leaves are oval, quite small, pointed, light green, thin. From June until the first colds it produces numerous umbrella-shaped inflorescences consisting of trumpet flowers, with five petals, of a characteristic sky-blue color. It is advisable to prune the plant at the end of flowering to obtain a greater quantity of flowers the following summer. The Alba variety has white flowers, the Royal Cape cultivar has cobalt blue flowers.
The plumbago It is a widespread shrub in cultivation: its trump cards are the vigor, the long flowering season and the color of its corollas, a pure and lively blue, very difficult to find in other plants. To maintain this sarmentosa over the years it is essential to treat its prunings, to carry out repottings and, almost everywhere in our country, to protect it from low winter temperatures with special materials or to remove the pots.

Origins and description

The plumbago (Plumbago capensis, from the Plumbaginaceae family), also called plumbago or blue jasmine, is a sarmentosa native to South Africa, in particular in the area of ​​the Cape of Good Hope (from which it takes the name capensis). It is by far the most widespread in cultivation, although the genus includes about ten species, different in size, color and growth habit.
It is a shrub that, in our country, can reach 4 meters in height (in tropical climates it easily exceeds 6), with woody and semi-climbing stems. The leaves are whole, oblong and with a smooth lamina, of a nice light green. From April to May it carries large umbrella-shaped inflorescences composed of many flowers with petals and sky-blue antene.

Cultivation of the Plumbago

Plumbago cultivation is simple. The only aspects that need special attention are the low temperature winter protection and the careful and frequent fertilization during the vegetative period to allow a fast growth with abundant and lively blooms.

Family, genus, species Plumbaginaceae, plumbago capensis
Type of plant Semi-climbing sarmentose shrub
Foliage From persistent to deciduous depending on the climate
dimensions Up to 3-4 meters high
Growth fast
Maintenance average
Exposure Sun-shade
Ground Rich, but well-drained
soil pH From neutral to subacid
irrigations Quite frequent
Fertilizer Every 15 days, liquid, rich in potassium
Rusticitа Semirustico (bears -8 ° C, but it is better not to go below 0 ° C)
Propagation Talea (sowing coerulea)
Use Vase, full ground (in the South and on the coasts)


The plant likes very bright positions, which enjoy direct sunlight for a few hours; if placed in full sun for the whole day in the hottest periods of the year it is slightly shaded. Especially the young plants fear the cold, so it should be planted in a sheltered place from the winter winds and repaired with tnt in places with cold winters, or withdrawn at home or in a cold greenhouse. Overly shaded positions cause a shortage of flowers, while the sun favors the production of new inflorescences.
The plumbago always wants an extremely bright position, even if, especially in the summer months and in the southern regions, the direct sun can cause stress.
The potted plants, in spring and autumn, can be placed south or west, but they will benefit, from June to mid-September, if they are moved where they are reached by the sun only in the morning and late afternoon.
The specimens in the open ground, being able to develop a deeper root system, suffer less the heat, but it is advised to insert them where they are repaired, at least in the central hours of the day.


Piombiaggine plants need very regular watering, especially in July and August, it is advisable to water them daily, during the coolest hours of the day, or at least every time the dry soil is noticed. From March to October provide fertilizer for flowering plants mixed with the water of the watering every 7-10 days.
The blue jasmine tolerates drought well, but better results are obtained with well-hydrated plants. At the same time it is important not to exceed to avoid the onset of rot.
In the summer we irrigate every time the first 5 cm of soil are completely dry; in winter the operations must be diluted considerably and, usually, light administrations after 15 days are sufficient.
To recreate an optimal environment it is important to maintain high environmental humidity: before flowering occurs (the corollas are very delicate) we can vaporize the leaves several times a day. Following a good help will derive from slightly wetting the surrounding soil, especially during the hottest hours of the day.
For all uses we try to use demineralized or rainwater: we will avoid the occurrence of leaf chlorosis.



March April
repotting March
Pruning November / March
Composting From March to November, every 15 days
Talea From April to the end of September
Sowing (plumbago coerulea) January March

Climate and winter protection

It is a tendentially delicate plant; in warm climates (where the thermometer never drops below 6-8 ° C) in just a few years it is possible to obtain monumental specimens with very rich and prolonged blooms, sometimes even in winter. These conditions, in our country, can be reproduced on the coasts or in the extreme South. Where temperatures fall instead below that threshold it is good to prune quite drastically and to protect the remaining stems in addition to ground bread.
If we generally reach O ° C (or at most -5 ° C) we can leave the pots outdoors, next to a wall facing South. We will cover the aerial part with a double layer of special fabric and carefully isolate the container in so that the earthen bread does not freeze completely.
In the North and in the mountain areas it is good to move the plumbaghi ​​in a warm greenhouse or at home: we always choose bright, but not heated rooms (about 8-10 ° C).
Survival will also be linked to the type of soil: water stagnation is very dangerous and should be avoided by using a draining substrate. We suspend or reduce irrigation a great deal, supplying water only to prevent the bread from drying out completely.


These plants prefer loose, well-drained, sandy, slightly acid soils. The plumbago wants a substrate that is basically sub-acid, rich, but well-drained. We can obtain a suitable mixture by combining 1/3 of soil for flowering plants, 1/3 of river sand and 1/3 of compost or well decomposed manure. Citrus fruit mixtures are also good, to which we will add some soil improver and some granular fertilizer.
If we want to put this sarmentosa directly in the garden, let's make sure that the area is not too clayey: if we have to completely replace the substrate or, in less serious cases, extract it and mix sand in it.
It is recommended to create a thick draining layer based on expanded clay or volcanic lapillus both in the container and in the open ground. Drain holes must always be abundant, large and maintained in efficiency.


In spring and summer it is possible to practice semi-woody cuttings, to be rooted in a mixture of peat and sand in equal parts, the new plants should be planted the following spring.
The plumbago spreads easily, throughout the vegetative period, through cuttings.
We take herbaceous portions of stem, about 10 cm long. They are placed in a very draining mixture of soil and sand (or perlite) in equal parts. For fast results we maintain temperatures from 20 to 25 ° C and a high ambient humidity, as well as a shaded exposure. The rooting takes place in about 30 days, after which we can move the individual seedlings into individual jars with the final compost.

Pests and diseases

This shrub is very healthy. The most common problems are leaf chlorosis (caused by unsuitable soil and irrigation with too hard water) and root rot.
It is very rarely attacked by parasites: sometimes you can find aphids or cochineal, but the interventions are almost always superfluous.


Its splendid and bright sky-blue color has made the Plumbago auriculata plant also the nickname "blue jasmine".
It is an evergreen and climbing shrub capable of forming magnificent bushes or thick flowery coverings capable of covering any type of wall, fence or pergola in a spectacular and fascinating way. The splendid "umbrellas" of plumbago flowers appear from April to the end of October; Particular and ornamental are also the characteristic leaflets of the plant: very small, but of an intense and brilliant green that branch out on thin stems capable of reaching up to two meters in length, as long as in optimal climate situations. The flowering of the lead is in fact well favored if the plant is placed in a well bright and sunny position: what does not happen in dark areas.

Plumbago pruning

The pruning of the plumbago auriculata it should be done every year both to order and contain the development of this beautiful bush, and to stimulate the growth and flowering of the plant. Plumbago should be pruned after it has flowered and needs vigorous pruning. With a pair of scissors sharpened and disinfected by previous pruning operations, we will cut all the stems of the bush to a height of about 30 cm from the ground. This intervention must be carried out in spring or summer and it is essential if you want to have plants that can form new flowers and above all it is essential if you want to have a healthy plant.
For the most attentive enthusiasts, a very useful practical tip is to eliminate the plummet flowers as they wilt, both to have a plant always in order, and to immediately eliminate parts of plant in decay that could steal precious energy to the plant.
Pruning should be done in late autumn or early spring. The second option is preferable where the winters are not mild: the cuts made before could cause rottenness that, from the stems, can reach the roots.
If we grow the plant as a bush we will have to prune quite low, leaving a maximum of 30-40 cm: in spring it will be completely renewed and will appear young and vigorous. The blooms will not be damaged because the umbrellas are produced on new branches.
If we have bred the plumbago as a climber we will have to eliminate all the secondary branches and about 1/3 of the spring branches (choosing the oldest or damaged ones).

Repotting and choosing the container

In all of our country the best time to buy and / or repot plumbago is the end of winter, when the minimum temperatures exceed 6 ° C. In the early years we choose containers with a minimum capacity of 20 liters, possibly in terracotta. These guarantee a better transpiration as well as having a greater weight and therefore greater stability. Given the vigorous growth it is usually necessary to repot every year, increasing the diameter by about 2 cm. Once we reach the total 30-40 cm we can limit ourselves to extracting superficial portions of soil, replacing it with new material.


To sustain the abundant and continuous flowering the plumbago requires rich and regular fertilizations. From April to October it is advised to administer a liquid product for flowering plants twice a month. A high concentration of potassium is important for producing umbrellas continuously and will guarantee exceptionally bright coloring.
When winter comes we can totally suspend.

Plumbago - Plumbago auriculata: Variety

Plumbago capensis
It is the most cultivated species in Europe. It has very long woody stems and naturally assumes a semi-climbing habit. Appreciated for its sky-blue inflorescences; in order to make it grow in all its splendor it needs strong supports, to which to tie the branches during the development. Withstands up to -8 ° C, if well protected and with perfectly drained soil.
The species is certainly the most widespread on the market, but there are cultivars characterized by a different color of the flowers: "alba" with white petals and "Dark blue" with deep blue inflorescences.
Plumbago rosea
Coming from South Asia. It is a sarmentose shrub of medium-small dimensions, from the corollas of a beautiful bright red; It is suitable for growing in pots. It is unfortunately not very common on the market; would find ideal climatic conditions throughout the South.
Plumbago zeylanica
It is a medium-sized semi-climbing shrub (up to 3 meters) originating from the tropical belt of Asia and Africa. Similar to capensis, but its flowers are white and smaller. Even less rustic, it can be treated as a pot plant throughout our country on the condition that it can offer very warm and sunny locations.
Plumbago coerulea
Originally from South America, in our country it has a good spread and is cultivated mostly as an annual, thanks to its rapid development. It has an erect and well-branched habit; the purple flowers are grouped in terminal spikes. It is sown in January-February obtaining the flowering already at the beginning of summer.
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