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Sky blue flowers

Perennial groundcover plumbago provides a fall bonus

Photo: Shelly Nold


A beautiful blue sky always makes me smile. So, I started to look for a plant that had flowers that were sky blue, and I found Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, called plumbago or leadwort. It is readily available, yet not very well known, which is surprising. With its electric blue flowers, I would think everyone would notice it.

A perennial groundcover, Plumbago grows only about 12 inches tall, and it spreads by rhizomes. It is not considered invasive, but when planted in good soil and in full sun to part shade, it will spread easily. Its glossy, medium green leaves are the perfect background for the small blue flowers. It will flower all summer long until frost, and the foliage will turn a beautiful bronze in the fall. Great fall color on perennial flowers is somewhat rare and always a nice bonus.

Plumbago is slow to emerge in the spring. If you plant it this fall, remember where you put it, so you won’t dig it up by accident in the spring. I think it’s such a pretty plant that it’s worth the wait each spring. It is both deer and rabbit resistant in the garden and requires little to no maintenance. If you are looking for a groundcover and the usual English ivy and vinca vine don’t excite you, give plumbago a try. It is fully dormant in the winter, but it will delight you each year from summer through fall.

SHELLY NOLD is a horticulturist and owner of The Plant Kingdom. Send stories and ideas to her at The Plant Kingdom, 4101 Westport Road, Louisville, KY 40207.

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