We welcome the New Year with something a little different, but it can be found over much of South Africa. The Plumbago auriculata is classified as a scrambling shrub that grows to a height of 3 m with a spread of 3 m. Although it is not a tree, this pretty shrub is utilised in many home gardens and urban landscapes as an ornamental feature.
The leaves are thin and bright green in colour, maturing to a darker green. Main flowering takes place between November and May, but blooms are often found during other times of the year. The flowers appear in trusses and the most common colour is a pale sky blue. Darker blue and even white variants are also available from nurseries. The flower calyx has sticky, gland-tipped hairs and children often pick the flowers to use as earrings! Seed capsules follow the flowers and are also coated in a sticky substance to enhance the dispersing of seeds.
Fast growing and drought resistant, the Plumbago makes a very good informal or formal hedge. It responds well to pruning and will flower even more profusely after being cut back. This shrub is sensitive to frost, but will bounce back quickly if damaged during cold spells. It can handle full sun or shade and is known to grow up into trees, looking for sun if placed in a very shady position.
The Plumbago is a colourful shrub that will attract insects and butterflies to your garden.