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"Possibility and promise greet me each day as I walk out into my garden. My vigor is renewed when I breathe in the earthiness and feel the dirt between my fingers. My garden is a peaceful spot to refresh my soul." Meems

Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Bluer Than Blue

A partial view of the back gardens will quickly draw your eye to the very back of the property and then to the right near the SE property line. This week at Hoe and Shovel there are mounds of blue plumbago profusely blooming to brighten October days.
I planted the hedgerows of plumbago and snow bush at an angle and the variegated schefflera graduates down in front of both. There is a winding path that runs just behind the shell ginger and holly fern to separate planting beds and to make room for walking and working in the garden.
Plumbago auriculata
Common Names: leadwort, plumbago, skyflower, P. capensis (syn.)
Family: Plumbagnaceae (plumbago or leadwort Family)
Hardiness: USDA Zones 8B-11
Do you think it is similar looking to a phlox bloom?Many times the clusters of flowers can be as wide as 5-6 inches across. This brightly colored sky blue flower actually prefers drier conditions and lots of sunshine. It will grow in the shade but it won't bloom as happily there.
The leaves are evergreen and stay on the plants throughout the year. The blue flowers start showing up in summer and depending on the amount of rain and sunshine could bloom all the way into winter. The planting above is the hedge at the very back of the property.
Plumbago is a popular landscape choice in our area and can be seen in commercial as well as residential plantings. I suspect its prominence is due to its big show for very little care requirements. The blue flowers will stick to your clothing and hair if you happen to brush up against the bush.

The planting above ( SE corner) went in after I built up the ground with soil and compost to raise the ground level above the rest of the area around it. With very flat terrain in this part of the state, we have to create man-made berms and rises for interest if we want them. A grassy path runs behind this planting before the farthest bed where the red Jatropha tree (not visible in the above photo) towers higher and serves as a backdrop for the plumbago.

I let my plumbago plants keep their willowy and almost freestyle shrub-look by trimming them a couple of times during the summer. I start at the bottom and come upwards in an arching-away-from-the-top motion. This allows the tops to continue to grow and reach toward the sky but also keeps the side branches from getting tangled up with whatever is planted next to them.
One of the ways I like to design is by using the same plant in more than one area. By having two groupings of plumbago with one placed further back than the other I feel it gives the sense of continuity and at the same time diversity in the overall view.
I almost forgot to mention these flourishing blue blooms seem to be a butterfly magnet to all varieties of swallowtails, monarchs, skippers, and they are a host plant to the tiny cassius blues.
Happy gardening, friends. Thanks for visiting and I hope you enjoy your weekend.


  1. WoWoW!!! Perfect timing for that inspiring picture of your back garden! (Check my post for today.) Seriously, that should be in a magazine. I don't suppose, next time you're up nawth, you'd have time to do that to my yard? ;}

  2. Love the Plumbago!! It's such a beautiful blue... a color we don't see much in flowers.

  3. Your back gardens are still very lovely. I have a couple of the Plumbago. I think they are lovely & I really like the blue. Now just to figure out where I can put them.

  4. Your gardens are so lovely! The plumbago is just gorgeous. We're a bit on the colder side in z7, but I'd love to try it some time. Cameron

  5. What beautiful color in your garden Meems. Our garden is winding down for the season.

  6. I am learning alot about Plumbago, since I have killed two so far. Your garden is so beautiful.

  7. You have a gift, Meems. Absolutely gorgeous photos and landscaping.

  8. Oh my goodness what a beautiful yard you have!!! It just made me want to take off my shoes and walk around barefoot.

    Plumbago is such a pretty plant. It does remind me of Phlox. That one up close picture is just lovely.

    There is also a plumbago that is low growing and blooms only in the fall. It's bloom is a little more bluer and it's foliage turns reddish this time of year. Of course in FL I'm not sure what it would do.

  9. sophie: You always make me smile. Lawzy, Miss Sophie, such kind words. Gee, I wish I could create a garden in a weekend -- I'd have a whole lot more time on my hands if I could. :-)

    greenjeans: Blues are hard to come by and they add so much to any garden.

    Lola: once you figure out where to put your plumbagos and they mature for you... you can dig up the runners and multiply your investment.

    Cameron: Thank you. I'm not sure how they would do for you up there but it might be worth a try in the summertime to test it out. Zone 7 would be stretching it a little I think... but why not?

    Lisa: Thank you. I also enjoy when this color peaks. I can't even imagine winding down right now I've been staying so busy in the garden.

    Darla: I appreciate you coming by and sharing your nice comments. Plumbago is very hardy once established. I wonder if you overwatered the plants you killed? That's about the only thing I can think of.

    Patricia: You are kind. Thank you. I always like it when you stop by.

    Susie: What a sweet thing to say. If you were here I'd welcome you to take your shoes off and walk around. I wonder if the other plumbago you referred to is the one that blooms darker blue... it has the word cape in the name and I can't think of it right now.

  10. Your garden looks fantastic! I see a lot of plants we grow as houseplants up here. How strange it is to see masses of them;)

  11. Dear Meems, Hello...I hope you are on your way to having a delightful weekend. Back to your lovely garden! The beds and berms are a visual treat and the Plumbago is such a wonderful blue. Yes I do think it resembles phlox.

    I have been trying to decide which is the supporting cast and which is the star? Trees or plantings? Maybe they are co-stars! But your beds with their tree trunks (trees with their beds!) are a dynamic combination!


  12. Fantastic pics of your beautiful garden Meems. I love your Plumbago with the blue flowers. They do look similar to Phlox. How wonderful that the foliage is evergreen. This is not a plant I've grown before. Wonder if in my Zone 7B garden it would be an annual or perennial?

  13. Without a doubt I over watered the Plumbago!! I have noticed that I put some drought tolerant plants with the plants that need more moisture. Looks like I have some rearranging to do. Love all of the things that I am learning via the blogspot. Alot of wonderful info comes across this screen.

  14. Marnie: I have heard that about the houseplants from several other northern bloggers. Until blogging I didn't realize how many of my outdoor plants are used as plants for inside. Interesting to note I'm not real great with indoor plants... I don't think they like so many months of a/c.

    Gail, thank you for your well wishes... and yes, actually my weekend started when I picked up my granddaughter this afternoon for an overnight at Mimi's.

    Interesting take on the garden cast, my dear imaginative Gail. I would have to go with co-stars. The trees allow me to have the underplantings because they give them relief from the intense sun. The plantings then fit happily under the canopy and soak up the filtered sunlight and humidity that makes them thrive. The overall design has been very gradual and not at all a master plan. Now I definitely have hit a groove and know where I'm going.

    I wish you a happy weekend as well.

    Raquel: I would have to guess the plumbago would be an annual in your garden. The hardiness zone is 8b-11 so you could try it in a container possibly? I've just recently started one in a container for the first time. It will be next spring before it is of any notable size.

    Darla: Isn't that the way with gardening? So much trial and error involved. I finally figured out some of my mistakes where watering is concerned this year and it helps a great deal to group them together as you mentioned. Now's the time to move some things around... so have fun.

  15. oh meems your garden is beckoning me for a visit. it is soooo beautiful. there is countless hours of work in that garden and it does seem to be in it's best all time stride. you may not have had a master plan but i would say you are a master gardener.
    the plumbago bring back such fond memories for me. i used to place them on my dress for sunday mornings. my own little bouquet.
    i wonder if i could grow them here? the soil is so different. sometimes i feel like i don't know where to begin.
    i love see your levels of plantings and i see what you mean about more than one planting of the same, it does lend to the over all cohesiveness of your garden.

  16. I love plumbago too Meems! Of course I have to grow the Hardy Plumbago (ceratostigma plumbaginoides) which looks a bit different. I never thought of it resembling phlox before but I think you're right. It's been awhile since I visited your garden but its as beautiful as ever. Your trip to Cumberland Island also looked amazing. I like to seek out & explore those kinds of places too. Such interesting history and it's great to keep it uninhabited.

  17. Your first photos emphasizes the lovely sweeping curves of your beds. The glimpse of blue beyond is enticing. The plumbago is a lovely match for your garden.

  18. my dear marmee, you know well the countless hours of satisfaction this garden provides me... and how many years it's taken to grow it to this point. I can't say I'm a master gardener but all these years in one place has taught me a few things about my little plot of land. Gardening is full of life-lessons with one of them being patience.

    I'm not sure what to tell you about the plumbago in your zone. I would suggest trying it in a pot with some good soil and placing it in full sun (next spring). It couldn't hurt to give it a try... it would be an annual for you but a pretty one indeed.

    Hi Kathleen, so glad you dropped by again. Hardy plumbago is called dwarf plumbago down here and is very much better for your zone as it can stand temps up to -4 degrees. It has completely different characteristics doesn't it?

    We are always on the lookout for out of the way places, too.

    northern shade: Thank you. I'm a big fan of the graceful feeling curvy beds add to the garden. To me they give a more naturalistic sense to the flow of an obviously man-made landscape.

    I sure hope you are enjoying your weekend. Thanks for stopping by.

  19. Baby Doll, Missy Meemms, Aunty jes' SIGHs when I come over heah--yore garden is a work of art. truly a pleasure to look at an' read. Bless ya fer this respite.

    We have plumbago too--I loves it. When I was a wee lassie, my Grandmama always had a Mary's Garden, that was strictly blue and white (green foliage.) Thar's so few true blue flowers. I have some mistreated old stokesia that in certain light looks blue, but it has that purple cast. On a' course, thar's Heavenly lLue mornin glories.

    However, I have somethin' that is so much fun! It is what we'uns call the Beautiful Blue Bean vine. It comes in white and the sweetest baby blue (NO purple in this flower) ya ever did see, An' it looks jes' like a sweet pea.

    Enjoy that paradise youse made--it is so lovely.

  20. Always happy to have you drop by, Aunty.Since I get the feeling you are just like all my great Aunts on my Dad's side, you are welcome anytime to come hang out in my garden.

    Very true observation on so few 'true blues' in the garden... plumbago is easy to have around on so many counts but the deep-blue color is the biggest draw for me.

    I tried to find something on the blue bean vine you describe... is it a vegetable or a flower vine? Sounds luscious. I'm going to try to grow sweet peas this spring in my vegetable garden.
    Glad you're back safely from vacation.


Have a blessed day,

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