If you love the color blue…and you love butterflies, then we have the perfect plant for you! Plumbago auriculata, also known commonly as Blue Plumbago, Cape Plumbago, Cape Leadwort and Skyflower, is a root-hardy perennial in our Houston gardens. This small rambling shrub offers up a bounty of blue flower clusters irresistible to both butterflies and gardeners. It is rare to find a plant with such true-blue blooms that thrives in our hot Texas summers. Plants are for the most part pest, disease and deer free and are easy to grow in the garden or containers.
A South African native, plants are hardy in USDA zones 8-11. Plants typically grow to about 3- to 4-feet tall and can reach 5-feet wide. Plumbago can get a bit leggy if left untended so it’s a good idea to prune spent flowers and tip-prune to encourage a dense growth habit. Regular dead-heading or tip pruning will also encourage new blooms as plants bloom on new wood. Be sure to place plants in a full sun location or a spot with late-afternoon shade. Plants growing in shady conditions all day will become leggy and will not produce many flowers.
Plumbago will typically bloom spring through fall but can often bloom through mild winters. In colder winter seasons, plants will drop their leaves or even die down to the ground, but re-emerge from the roots the following spring.
If butterflies are your goal, you’ll be pleased to find many species will visit your plumbago plants. The most common types of butterflies you’ll find in your Houston garden include Giant Swallowtail, Gray Hairstreak, Gulf Fritillary, Monarch and more. Did you know that by planting three nectar plants and three caterpillar food plants that are native to your region, your garden can qualify to become a Certified Butterfly Garden by the North American Butterfly Association? Discover more information about this program and Houston butterflies by visiting their site: NABA