Plumbago zeylanica, or White Leadwort is native to SE Asia. It is a much branched, evergreen shrub that reaches about 6 feet (2 meters) in nature. Dark green leaves are ovate to 6 inches (30 cm) long by half as wide. They are fast growing plants, but their size is easily controlled by pot size and pruning. Dr. Scott Russell, my mentor works with these plants. (URL: http://www.ou.edu/cas/botany-micro/faculty/russell.shtml)
Blooming Time: The flowers are white in showy dense racemes and will flower all year long. Individual flowers are up to ½ inch (a bit more than 1 cm) across.
Culture: Plumbago zeylanica need full sun to partial shade with intermediate to warm temperatures. The plant needs a slightly acidic potting mix with no lime added. We use a soil mix consisting of 2 parts peat moss to 1 part loam to 2 parts sand. To this mix we add 14-14-14 slow release fertilizer. The plants are kept moist for optimum growth and flower production. They are fertilized weekly with 15-30-15 fertilizer used at full strength. This also aids in flower production. After flowering, the plants should be cut back to keep them growing vigorously. The fruits are like a small cocklebur with glue on the soft spines and they will stick to anything. The root and root bark and seeds are used medicinally as a stimulant, caustic, digestion, antiseptic, anti-parasitic. They are hardy in USDA zones 9-12.
Propagation: Plumbago zeylanica are propagated by cuttings, division of older plants or by seed. Fresh seed (which form in abundance within 3 weeks of flowering if grown right) is the best way to get new plants. Seed germinate in 21 to 30 days at 70° F (21° C).
Plumbago zeylanica was featured as Plant of the Week November 1-7, 2002
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.