Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) is a sprawling soft shrub (1.5-2m in height) widely grown in gardens for its long-lasting flowers and tolerance of hot and dry conditions. Summer flowers in blue and white are held in clusters and are slightly sticky to the touch. The leaves are small, elliptical and a soft green in colour.

Plumbago is native to South Africa and does well in temperate and subtropical Australia where the plant is often grown as an informal flowering hedge. It can also be used to cascade over a wall and may scramble up other plants such as bougainvillea. Plumbago is long flowering with peak blooming through summer.

There are several named varieties including:

  • ‘Royal Cape’ a fast growing shrub with deep blue flowers from summer to autumn. It can be grown as a hedge or throughout other plants for a stunning display. Reaching a height and width of 2m x 3m, it is a drought tolerant shrub that requires very little maintenance besides a prune.
  • ‘Deep Blue’ an evergreen green foliage shrub with deep blue flowers from spring to summer. Growing to around 2 to 3 metres high and 2m wide, it will look good pruned after flowering.
  • ‘Alba’ or White Plumbago is known for its stunning white flowers and lush green foliage. It can be grown as sprawling ground cover or trained into a climbing vine. Drought tolerant it will survive in a range of soils.

Check out your local hardware or garden centre for advice and varieties to suit your location.

Growing conditions

Aspect Plumbago needs a bright, sunny location with sun for all or most of the day. It will tolerate some shade but will not flower as well.

Soil Best with good drainage but otherwise this shrub is not very fussy about soil, except very heavy clay. When growing plumbago in a pot, select a large container with a premium potting mix such as Seasol Advanced Potting Mix. The species can sucker but ‘Royal Cape’ is not prone to suckering.

Climate Plumbago grows in a wide range of climates from cool to subtropical. Plants will tolerate light frost.

How to grow and look after plumbago for beautiful blooms
How to grow and look after plumbago for beautiful blooms

General care

Watering Once established, plumbago is drought hardy. Water more frequently if plants are in very hot, dry or exposed conditions or growing in containers.

Feeding and mulching. Feed plumbago throughout the growing and flowering season (spring to autumn) with PowerFeed with Troforte All Purpose including Natives. Add to the soil prior to planting and reapply every 6 to 8 weeks.  You can also boost growth at any time of year with liquid PowerFeed All Purpose including Natives. 

Mulch with an organic mulch such as sugarcane mulch, lucerne, or coarse pine bark mulch.

Pruning Cut back plants that are lanky or have finished flowering to encourage more compact growth and repeat flowering or to manage as a hedge.

Watch out Plumbago suffers few pest or disease problems and seems to be ignored by large pests such as possums. Plants growing in too much shade may be lanky. Plants can sucker, so remove with secateurs.