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If you are looking for a plant that loves the heat, doesn't mind long, humid summers, and is reasonably drought tolerant, then consider cape plumbago (Plumbago auriculata {p. capenis} Plumbaginacceae).

Cape plumbago is a shrubby, tender perennial that has lovely flowers of blue or white. The plumbago blooms non-stop from summer until first frost. It seems to have no diseases or pests. Although it blooms best in full sun, the plumbago can take considerable shade and still have an abundance of blooms.

In South Texas and Florida the cape plumbago is an evergreen shrub that can grow to 8 feet tall and 6 feet wide. In Zones 7 and 8 (which cover most of Northeast Texas) it can be grown in containers, cut back in the fall, and wintered in the garage. But my favorite way to grow it is in the garden with other perennials. After the first frost, cut it back and cover it with a blanket of pine needles. In the spring, remove the pine needles and, unless we've had an unusually harsh winter, it will green up and be blooming by early summer. Grown this way, it will reach two to three feet high and three to four feet wide.

Another way to keep plumbago going is to pot up some of the seedlings that always come up around the mother plant. Over-winter these little plants in the garage or an inside window, just in case a really hard winter kills those in the garden. It's worth the extra trouble in the fall in exchange for a long season of no-fuss blooms that blend with and enhance the beauty of all your other flowers.

LaVerne Wood, Smith County Master Gardener
Texas AgriLife Extension Service

Flowers Index
Gardening Tips For Northeast Texas Index