By: roughseasinthemed

Jun 25 2012

Tags: , , ,

Category: Flowers, Gardens, Photography, Spain


Focal Length:5.8mm
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Plumbago has always been one of my favourite plants.

When I was a little girl we had a lovely conservatory full of beautiful plants, fuschias, pelargoniums, coleus, and lots and lots of others in the days when my dad liked playing in his greenhouse.

At opposite sides of the conservatory were two climbing plants, one – I think – was a clematis, and the other was a beautiful plumbago.

But nothing like as beautiful as this one. When I first started buying plants for my Spanish garden, a tiny plumbago was one of the ones I picked up, probably because it wasn’t too expensive.

It is the perfect plant for this climate. It needs no care, withstands water shortages, and blooms profusely.

In fact, it blooms so profusely that it is the cause of constant marital dissension, as he always wants to cut it back, invariably when it is in full flower, whereas I want to enjoy the glorious flowers.

The dog doesn’t help. He chooses to lie underneath it and promptly gets covered with flowers which he brings into the house. That doesn’t bother me but it seems to annoy my tidy-minded partner. Well, tidy when it comes to plumbago.

Last time I went to Spain I cut it back pre-floral state. Three weeks later it is stronger and more rampant than ever.

Partner would probably dig it out if he had half a chance, but that would be serious grounds for divorce.

I actually did, extremely grudgingly, chop back some of these beautiful flowers at the weekend. On our last day, José next door came round and pointed out that there was so much of it on the street side that the cars were giving it a wide berth. Hmmm. Partner beamed and quickly got out a hedge trimmer to chop back the street facing side of the plant.

A little info on plumbago/cape leadwort which I have only just learned writing this post:

The generic name derived from the Latin words plumbum (“lead”) and agere (“to resemble”), was first used by Pliny the Elder (23-79) for a plant known as molybdaina. This may have referred to its lead-blue flower colour, the ability of the sap to create lead-colored stains on skin, or Pliny’s belief that the plant was a cure for lead poisoning.

The flower calyx has glandular trichomes (hairs), which secrete a sticky mucilage that is capable of trapping and killing insects. It is unclear what the purpose of these trichomes is. Protection from pollination by way of “crawlers” (ants and other insects that typically do not transfer pollen between individual plants), or possible protocarnivory.

This is extremely useful information. We get lots of ants on the terrace and my poor plumbago has been blamed for attracting them because it is sticky. But who knew that it was actually trapping them?

Info courtesy of Wiki.


13 comments on “Plumbago”

  1. Nice post and some useful backgound information. With all the rain we are having it is serious hedge cutters time here too!


  2. Plumbago Inn: Ants check in and the don’t check out….that’s a US ad for insect “motel” traps.
    The German does think they look nice sticking to her head and back, too


    • Is that a good ad or a bad one?

      I was going to quote ‘be sure to wear flowers in your fur’ which is what I normally think of when I see Pippa the hippy flower power dog – and then I discovered it was Mamas and Papas again 😀


  3. lovely. never heard of these before!


    • Gosh! I thought everyone knew what they were. I’m so pleased with this huge bush, it started off as a tiny plant from the garden centre and threatens to take over that whole stretch of wall 🙂


  4. […] of pix of it scattered throughout roughseas and pippadogblog but I did post one on Everypic a while […]


  5. Has it escaped its lovely big pot? i love its blue flowers, and bright demeanour, but really, in the right conditions (i.e. not a greenhouse in England, or the wet tropics, for instance), it can take over! it can root from every node, and in addition, suckers like mad – so heed partner a little and keep it well trimmed – I speak from grim experience! You’ll be rewarded with vigorous growth and even more prolific flowering 🙂


    • It’s not in a pot. The previous owner of the house built up walls around the terrace and planted the insides if that makes sense. So mostly I tend to plant directly into the soil. It certainly has spread in terms of growth 🙂 but not so much in terms of suckers, unlike the winter jasmine, which is a bit of a waste of space as it only flowers for a few weeks, whereas summer jasmine which goes on for months.

      I do like the glorious display, to me, it is one of those plants (like bougainvillea) that embody living in a sub trop climate. Wonderful colourful and wild plants. I don’t mind trimming it back when the flowers have finished (for that incredibly short period), it’s just that he wants to cut it back when it is in full flower. I hate cutting flowers. I did cut it a couple of weeks ago after the heavy rain had demolished a lot of the blooms, so it is slightly tidier now. I’ll let him loose with the hedge trimmer in the new year 😀


      • You’re making me laugh – remembering my mother and the few roses she insisted on growing in the sub-tropics, despite her vow to have a tropical garden. The poor things just never stopped flowering and got weaker, and stragglier by the month and I would say, give it a holiday, prune it back and let it replenish itself and spring forth anew, and she’d say yes, as soon as it finishes flowering, and another month would go by! At least with the plumbago it won’t be losing strength because of its flowering, but it’s not often likely to present an opportunity for a good old prune back except after a bad cold snap. New year sounds reasonable 🙂


        • I can see why you laughed, I’m laughing too. I don’t particularly like roses, (we had far too many of them when I was a kid so I think they are boring), but the ones I inherited in this garden seem to know that and flourish endlessly:

          That was obviously taken at the beginning of the year, and they are still blooming the same way!! Last week my neighbour told me they needed pruning (yes José I know) and then added, but not until January. Every time I take a flower off, I try and cut the stem back but it makes no difference!!

          You’re right about the plumbago, it doesn’t have a long flower free spell, so we will have to pounce when it appears to be resting.


          • That was a fun post – and I see what you mean about the rose, it sure could do with a bit of a rest!


            • It won’t stop!! It is the most prolific of all my roses. And earlier this year, when we gave José the keys to the gates we told him to help himself to some cuttings to shoot new roses. Personally I think they are past their sell-by date, but each to their own. Boring old roses 😀


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