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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Please Help Me Save My Plumbago!

Q. Please tell me how I can save my potted plumbago from our Las Vegas winters.

A. So you have a plumbago. People like them because of their blue flowers which fade to a bluish white in our intense direct sunlight. It likes our summer heat if it gets a little relief from the afternoon sun so Eastern exposure is best or filtered sunlight.
            There are a couple of different kinds of plumbago so I'm guessing yours is sometimes called Cape plumbago. It hails from South Africa hence its name. so it likes the heat, can handle an occasional drought and moderately poor soils.

Do you want to see a plumbago? 

            It does well in our desert heat but does not like our soils, unless they are amended with compost, or our winter cold. This plant does well in a Mediterranean type climate which might get light frost. We normally see it growing in South Florida and along the coast in Texas. It used to be grown in the warmer parts of Arizona and along the Colorado River until desert landscaping pushed it out of our landscapes.
            You are worried about losing it to our winter freezing temperatures. If the plant has been established for at least one growing season it can freeze to the ground and come back again much like Bougainvillea.
            You have it growing in a pot so move it into the garage if the temperatures appear to go below freezing during the night. Other than that, treat it like any other winter tender, potted plant. If there is a light freeze, throw a crop cover over the top of it and make sure the cover is all the way to the ground. During a heavy freeze this won't be enough protection.
            Make sure you repot this plant every 3 to 4 years. Fertilize it every other month with a rose or azalea type fertilizer and iron chelate applied to the soil and watered in. Make sure the soil drains easily and keep it slightly on the dry side between waterings. 

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