Blue plumbago, Ceratostigma plumbaginoides - care tips

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Of all the leadwort species, Ceratostigma plumbaginoides is most commonly cultivated in our gardens. The perennial is ideal as ground cover and adapts to many different living conditions.
Through its lateral foothills, the blue leadwort spreads rather slowly. So he forms in groups gorgeous upholstery, but never gets annoying or even proliferates. This makes it the ideal plant for perennial beds, woody edges or even rockeries. The leadwort reacts sensitively to moisture in winter, otherwise it shows rather easy care.

  • botanical name: Ceratostigma plumbaginoides
  • other names: Chinese plumbago, creeping horn scar, gentian lead root
  • belongs to the family of the plumbago family (Plumbaginaceae)
  • deciduous herbaceous perennial, groundcover
  • Growth height: 20-30 cm, carpet-like
  • Leaves: lanceolate petiolate, red autumn color
  • Flower: sky-blue, salver-shaped (radish) flowers from August to October
  • perennial
  • hardy
Seven of the eight leadwort species come from the Asian region, only one species is found in East Africa. The blue leadwort grows in western China on forest soils and at forest edges, but also occurs in open spaces. In the garden, he prefers a sunny to partially shaded location and copes with almost all normal garden soils, which are well permeable to water. Favorable are all situations, which are sun-soaked for at least four hours. In shady areas, it develops well, but flowers a little less. The blue leadwort is versatile in the garden. So he tolerates areas of life on woody edges or under light woods, gravel, stone beds and steppe gardens and even grows easily on masonry or in dry stone walls. In addition, the leadwort is also suitable for greening of dry slopes, as it protects the soil from erosion.
  • Light requirement: sunny to partially shaded
  • normal garden soil, permeable to water
  • slightly humic, also like stony or rocky
  • sandy loamy
  • neutral to calcareous (7-9)
  • dry to slightly fresh (moist) soil
  • Loving heat, resistant to heat
Tip: Beautiful companion for roses, milkweed (Euphorbia), cinquefoil (Potentilla), summer marguerites (Leucanthemum maximum), Japansegge (Carex morrowii) and Zieste (Stachys).
The blue leadwort works well in combination with spring flowers, which are color-matched to the blue flower (yellow, orange). Even for beds in which high grasses form the background, the groundcover is well suited. Small perennials that flower early in the spring, are not a problem as neighbors, as the blue leadwort drives out its leaves very late (May). However, all other low-growing plants are overgrown by the competitive plant over time and go for lack of space and light. A Chinese plumbago is very easy to care for and adaptable, however, in heavy soils, sand and grit should be incorporated before planting, so that it never comes to waterlogging.
  • Time: spring from April / May
  • Planting distance: 25-30 cm
  • plant in larger groups (at least 5)
  • impressive in colonies of 20-50 individual plants
  • about 8 to 15 plants per square meter
  • the drier and rockier the soil, the more plants are needed for the area
A leadwort is also very decorative in flower tubs on the terrace or balcony. It is well suited for a combination with bulbous plants such as tulips or daffodils, as it only drives out when the early flowering plants have already withered. Tip: Young plants are somewhat sensitive to late frosts in spring, so a new planting is not recommended until May.
Pouring and fertilizing
The gentian lead root is a drought-tolerant groundcover, which almost never needs to be additionally watered in moist, humid forest margins. On very sandy or rocky surfaces a regular watering is necessary if in the summer there is great heat or long drought. However, the leadwort should never be watered at full sun (noon). Early mornings or later evenings are more appropriate. Waterlogging does not tolerate waterlogging, so the soil should be well drained so that the rainwater or irrigation water can always run well. In spring, a fertilizer application with compost, horn shavings or horn meal is recommended. These natural slow-release fertilizers provide the plants with all the necessary nutrients throughout the year. Tip: Do not be afraid if there are still no new shoots on the blue plumbago in May. The plant is very late, sometimes only in June!
The leadwort proliferates over both seeds and subterranean foothills that develop laterally on the main plant. These foothills can be easily separated in the fall with a sharp knife, if some roots have already formed.Afterwards you simply put them back into the ground and pours well. In healthy, older plants, the propagation by cuttings is another method to vegetatively increase the plant.
  • Time: spring to summer
  • after dripping cut off head cuttings (without flower)
  • (Head cuttings are multi-leaved shoot tips)
  • Length: 5-15 cm
  • remove lower leaves
  • leave about 3-5 leaves
  • Scrape top layer at the bottom of the stem with a sharp knife (2 cm)
  • use in damp soil or cactus soil
  • Slip plastic wrap over
  • set up bright (without direct sun)
After rooting - recognizable by the first new shoot tips - the plastic bag is removed and the plant is watered normally. In late summer (or next spring) the leadwort can then go outdoors. When hibernating in the house: cool and bright.
Cutting and wintering
During the year, the Chinese plumbago is not cut. In principle, the shoots can be cut near the ground towards the fall, since they will not survive the winter anyway. It is better, however, to leave the foliage over the winter and cut back only in early spring. This has two advantages: On the one hand, the beautiful deep-red autumn foliage adorns the garden for a long time; secondly, the foliage (even if it is withered or rotten) serves as a natural winter protection against frosts. Ceratostigma plumbaginoides are frost hardy up to temperatures of -23° C. The gentian leadwort (as well as other perennials) must never be cut back too early, as the plant still has to store reserves for the winter in the tubers or roots. Earliest time for a cut: When the foliage starts to rot slowly or dry up. Before the leadwort shoots out again, it can simply be cut off about 3 cm above ground level. Tip: If you cut back the shoots in the fall, you should protect the roots from frostbite with some leaves or brushwood.
Ceratostigma plumbaginoides is easily confused with Plumbago auriculata and Plumbago indica - both types of leadwort that tolerate no frosts and therefore can not spend the winter outdoors.
Diseases and pests
The Chinese plumbago is a robust perennial. Problems with pests or diseases are very rare. In damp, cold spring months, an infection with powdery mildew can sometimes occur in the snail-resistant plant. In these cases, infected parts of plants must be promptly removed and disposed of with household waste.

Worth knowing about the blue leadwort shortly

  • If you want to bring a touch of Asia into your own garden, the robust and easy-care shrub is well-served.
  • The blue plumbago is one of the most beautiful groundcover in semi-shady marginal beds or in the rock garden.
  • As of August, it forms rare blue flowers for woody perennials, which from autumn form a stark contrast to its red autumn foliage.
Tip: The leadwort Ceratostigma plumbaginoides is often confused with the leadwort growing as a climber. The one described here is a ground cover that does not come from Africa but from Asia.
  • The location for the Chinese plumbago should be full sun to partial shade. He likes a warm cookie.
  • Since the branches break off easily, a sheltered place is recommended.
  • The soil should be moderately dry, slightly calcareous, lean and permeable.
  • With heavy soils you can mix some sand, so waterlogging is avoided. The leadwort likes mineral soil very much.
  • It is regularly watered in the warm seasons, but not too much. The leadwort is drought-tolerant.
  • Waterlogging is not tolerated, as well as winter wet.
  • In the spring before budding, the leadwort should be cut off about 3 cm above the ground.
  • Dried leaves are to be removed, they promote the formation of mushrooms.
  • In winter, leadwort requires winter protection, especially in rough conditions. Suitable for this is brushwood.
  • The leadwort is becoming more common through sowing or cuttings. It also spreads quickly through foothills and can grow properly.
  • The leadwort, which grows as a climber, likes a lot of sun, as the plant originates from southern Africa. A sheltered place is ideal.
  • In summer the plant needs enough water. However, waterlogging is essential to avoid.
  • From April to September a weekly fertilizer is recommended.
Tip: The leadwort grows very fast. It is important that the tips are always blended, that they not only grow in length, but branched. The withered, sticky calyx should be removed regularly. It is favorable, if one gives the lead root a climbing frame or trellis, because otherwise the growth form can sometimes take on quite strange forms.
  • The leadwort is not hardy, but can be wintered as a container plant in the house.
  • Before placing, all branches should be cut back to one-third or even half-way back. The flower is delayed by something.
  • The leadwort overwinters best in a bright room at temperatures between 8 and 12 ºC.
  • But it is also possible to place them in a relatively dark room at temperatures between 5 and 8 ºC. But the plant loses its leaves.
  • It is poured only a little, just enough so that the bale does not dry out.
  • In bright wintering, the leadwort must be only lighted in the spring.

Video Board: Ceratostigma plumbaginoides Growing Guide (blue-flowered leadwort) by GardenersHQ.

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