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What’s Blooming in Paradise: Blue Plumbago offer added dimension to a garden

By Staff | Aug 12, 2015

First impression: Cerulean blue sky color adorns five delicate petal flowers that remind me of vintage phlox. Light green small leaves are dense and numerous. These natural arching shaped bushes have a delicate look, which gives an added dimension in the garden. I can’t help but notice tiny blue butterflies fluttering around. They are so similar to the blossoms; they can be mistaken for flying flowers. Need a little zip pe dee doo dah in your life? On a clear day you can see forever our blossoms in bouquets at the Botanical Gardens of the Sanibel Moorings.

Upon further investigation: Three reasons why cassius blue butterflies populations are struggling: plumbago, plumbago and plumbago! Our under used garden stars are the host plants for an itty bitty species of butterflies. A host plant is the one plant that each species of butterfly will lay their eggs on and is essential for their survival.

Mother CB utilizes plumbago to lay oodles of single, flattened, blue eggs right on the tender new leaves and flowers. As the newborn caterpillar hatches, its mission is to eat and eat and eat. Eventually, the caterpillars grow larger and fatter and one day travel to a safe spot and begin their chrysalis and metamorphosis. The sweet tasting flowers do double duty and also serve as a nectar plant for butterflies.

Sky flower is another name for our Plumbago, because its blossoms are the color of a cloudless blue sky. They are bountiful and clustered like a hydrangea blossom. So gorgeous! Leaves are linear and soft green and make the plant attractive even without flowers. The natural shape is arching and trailing branches, so pruning is minimal. This plant can become necrotic at times; just trim away the black area.

Be prepared for its fickleness, some this year they are drop dead gorgeous, last year they drove me crazy with the black holes. A nonnative, noninvasive plant in partial shade to full sun in a well drained area.

Plumbago zeylanica is our white flowering native plant variety. Both varieties are in the easy care, but can’t take over watering. I recommend planting both colors, they are great companions. Once you plant them in your garden, prepare yourself for the lots of ooohs and aaahs.

Gentle reminder: butterfly gardeners have to re-evaluate spraying of pesticides as their use will interrupt the life cycle of the butterfly which is egg, larva, pupa and butterfly.

Pros:

Hydrangea like blooms

Does well in sandy soil

We can all use more butterflies

Likes full sun

Salt tolerant

Host and nectar plant for unique blue butterfly

Pollinators love it!

Noninvasive

Oodles of butterflies fluttering all around it

The color of blue is iconic

Naturally shaped

Cons:

Can get sparse and black holey

Pollinators love it

Re think/tolerate caterpillars and nibbled leaves

Nonnative.

Conclusion: Now you don’t have to look up to enjoy a memorable blue sky; just look in the garden all around and surround yourself with these sky blue flowers. Plus we have the perfect host plant that does double duty as the perfect flower in our tropical eye catching garden.

Don’t wanna miss this bloomer!

**Remember we have a yearly fertilizer restriction during July 1 through Oct. 2. This is a very important mandatory restriction to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus runoff into our precious waterways. Any fertilizing during our rainy season, only ends up in our water resources as unwanted algae blooms.**