Sometimes when you are trying to figure out what plants you might want to plant around the house, one of the best ways to get ideas is to look around the medians of the highways in your community.
Many Florida cities really deck out the roadways with color, especially during the fall and winter planting season. One colorful plant you will see quite frequently are bright blue and beautiful. These lush plants are called Plumbago.
Plumbago is an evergreen shrub that boasts semi woody stems with beautiful clusters of blue flowers at the tips. Plumbago plants can get as large as 10 feet high, but they can easily be controlled by pruning. One of the great features of this plant is it has the ability to be grown as either a vine or a shrub. If you keep the plant trimmed, it will grow like a bush, but if you let the branches grow, it can grow like a vine and spread itself out over supports or even a trellis.
Plumbagos bloom almost all year except during periods of near freezing temperatures. They do well in the summer months, especially if they have some protection from the midday sun. There is also a white variety of the plant (P. auriculata var. alba) available that is just as stunning as the blue counterpart. Plumbago are native South American plants and grow well in the tropical Florida and also in parts of California.
Plumbago are fairly easy plants to grow because they like a light sandy soil to grow in. This is what most of our natural soils are like in Florida. The plant also needs good drainage in order to stay healthy. Since Plumbago are slightly acidic, like Hibiscus, you can occasionally fertilize with an acid-based fertilizer like Miracle Gro for acid loving plants. This fertilizer is easy to use and will not burn. The only downfall is the product does not stay in the soil very long and you need to fertilize more frequently. You can use a granular slow release fertilizer if you wish, but follow label directions carefully so you do not burn your plants.
Plumbago can be used in a variety of landscape applications, including borders and they also look great if used as accent plants or planted in large masses as we see along many of our roadways. Plumbagos also look great when planted along the perimeter of a fence. The plants can be pruned and trained to the desired height.
One other great feature of this plant is it attracts butterflies! If you look closely at almost any area with a large planting of Plumbago, you most certainly will find a few butterflies fluttering around looking for some sweet nectar. All in all, they are easy to grow, have very few problems and they bloom almost all year. What more could you ask for?
Joe Zelenak has more than 30 years experience in gardening and landscape. Send e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his Web site hometowngarden.com.