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Plumbagos are plumbeautiful!

This blog will not be an impartial blog and I don’t have any problems not apologizing for it. I will be telling you all about my absolute favorite plant here at the nursery. My favorite plants usually have mostly to do with a few tried and true factors. They must be easy to take care of, they must be sweet on my water bill, and they must come back and greet me every year. This plant exhibits all of these qualities but what pushes it to the coveted spot on my “favorites” list is that it is also my favorite color! Blue! There is something that is so calming, cool, and refreshing about this color, especially in the summertime. You know how you feel when you are on a road trip to the beach and you get your first glimpse of the blue ocean water (I’m not talking about the Gulf Coast here.), or maybe it’s a triple digit day and you’ve been invited to a pool party and all you want to do is skip the bbq part of the party and dive straight into the turquoise waters glistening in front of you?  It’s that blue color that draws you in; it’s the water too, but surrounding yourself with the color blue can really lead to feelings of serenity. That’s what I need most days of the summer here in San Antonio; I need something to cool me off or at least make me think cool.

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(Jump in! You know you want to!)

Here’s where I get all psychological on you. The color blue actually affects us intellectually and mentally. Some colors give us a more physical reaction, like the color red that can stimulate, raise pulse rates and activate the “fight or flight” instinct. Blue soothes us and and the stimulation it provides is in the mind by calming our thoughts and aiding concentration. Serene and relaxing, blue is the color of clear communication. Who wouldn’t want  to be surrounded by that? Well, since I am not within walking distance of that beach, and since I don’t happen to have a pool in my backyard, I have found another way to ensure that I am surrounded by that tranquil, cool, feeling that seeing the color blue can provide. I’ve found it in my favorite blue plant!

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(How could you NOT be peaceful looking at that?)

I am particularly drawn to any plant that boasts the blue hue. In springtime when the delphinium show up, I  have to almost physically put on blinders to be able to walk through the nursery or I can use up my paycheck in one day! The electric-blue shades of lobelia cause me to practically swoon, and I would never let a hydrangea go without a dose of acid fertilizer; but I want that blue plant that sticks around for more than a season and doesn’t need a ton of work to keep it looking good. Throughout the years of hunting for the perfect blue plant that lives up to my standards, the one that has always remained true is plumbago.


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(The search is over, the prize is the plumbago.)

Big, puffy clusters of true-blue flowers cover this perennial in such an abundance that during certain times of the year I hardly notice the foliage! All summer until the first frost, plumbago keeps blooming and if you give it a heavy trim it will throw out another massive amount of flowers, as it bears flowers on new wood. Like I stated before, there are a few other things that I need my plants to have to make my “favorites” list, and plumbago has all these requirements and more. I may purchase one plant each season that possibly needs the care of an attentive owner and within a week I regret it. As much as I love plants, I am not always that attentive, okay, I borderline on abusive. I will water and care for my plants diligently until they become established and then I demand that they step up. If they don’t, it’s off to the “ranch” (otherwise known as the compost pile). Sounds heartless I know, but I warn them when I bring them home.

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(I’ll hang in there through the tough times!)

I have to have a plant that can take a little neglect, I have to have a plant whose light requirement is pretty much “wherever”, I have to have a plant that won’t wear a sign for pests and disease that says, “ravage me”, and I have to have a plant that when it doesn’t get watered says, “I wasn’t thirsty anyway”. Yes sir, that’s my baby. Plumbago be planted in the full on sun or take considerable shade and thrive in either condition. When we have stretches of no rain and water restrictions, plumbago still greets me with a happy wave. I don’t have to mark my calendar to make sure that I’m following up on my insecticide or fungicide regime because I haven’t seen any insect or fungus that bothers it. I don’t have to do much of anything to it, but shear it back if it starts to look a little wild and doing this results in that extra flush of flowers, so I don’t really mind that chore; and I always cut it down to the ground after winter even if it doesn’t freeze.

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(They keep blooming and blooming.)

But here is what I can and want to do with plumbago. I can take great videos and pictures of the astounding amount of butterflies that visit all summer long. I can enjoy the chirps of the birds that like to hide inside its dense foliage. I can laugh at my dog when he comes in with some of the sticky blue flowers pasted to the top of his head. I can breathe a sigh of relief that because I have a lot of plumbago, not everything in my landscape looks like shriveled, shrunken heads on a stick. I can look outside and see the cool blue and float away on a cloud of calm and relaxing thoughts. How about you? Ready to dive in?

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(Many fantastic creatures love plumbago as much as I do. This includes butterflies and, well…., Toby.)

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The Happy Gardener

Lisa Mulroy

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