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Cape plumbago

Plumbago auriculata

Description

Please note:

For most situations, we would not recommend installing this plant in new gardens, landscapes, or plantings in southern California.

It grows very quickly and often outgrows its space in residential landscapes, requiring constant work to keep its size controlled. Our top recommendations to consider instead of this plant for a wide ground cover include Mrs. Beard sage, Point Sal sage, Pigeon Point coyote brush, Montara sagebrush, and Canyon Gray sagebrush

This plant profile is included in this site as a reference for two primary reasons:

  1. If you already have this plant in your landscape, this information can be used to know how to care for it.
  2. If you already have this plant in your landscape, you can use this information to learn which of our recommended plants have the same recommended watering needs, making them potential choices for grouping together if you will be adding new plants to the existing area.

In general, instead of this plant, we recommend planting appropriate California native plants whenever possible.

In addition to their beauty, California native plants offer the most additional benefits beyond just low water use, including habitat for the birds, butterflies, and pollinators who evolved here with them. This adds value and beauty in your landscape beyond just a pretty plant, allowing the landscape to actively contribute to the environment instead of just using less water. You can find our top recommended native plant choices on our Plant Finder by selecting “California Native” and learn more about California native plants here.

To learn what exactly California native plants are and how they are different from other low water plants, visit this link.

For visual interest or other reasons, some people may also want to mix in other non-native low-water demanding plant choices even though they do not have the same ecological value as native plants. For that reason, we feature a number of non-native waterwise selections on this site as well. However, we see native plants as the best “go to” for most landscape or garden choices! We encourage people to consider planting at least 50% of their landscape to native plants. See our Garden Designs section or visit our Waterwise Demonstration Garden in Montclair for plenty of inspiration.

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The cape plumbago is a large vining evergreen shrub with a mounding habit and easily growing 6-8 ft. tall, spreading 8-12 ft. wide. Foliage is comprised of thin medium green leaves, 2 in. long. Showy light blue flowers grow in large 3-4 in. dia. clusters for many months from early spring through fall.

Cape plumbago comes from mild climate zones of South Africa where it grows in bush and scrub thickets on dry slopes. Foliage is can be by temperatures below 25°F, but it will quickly regrow in spring. It easily accepts regular moisture and can become quite large and aggressive. Several cultivars have been introduced over the years, including P. a. ‘Alba’ that has white flowers.

Plant Type: Shrub
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Habit: Arching, Aggressive, Upright, Sprawling, Robust, Mounding, Dense, Climbing
Growth Rate: Fast
Foliage Color: Medium green
Flower Color: Blue
Flower Season: Summer, Spring, Fall
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil
Exposure Adaptations: Morning sun, Heat, All day sun
Function: Hedge, Slopes, Screening, Residential spaces, Parks and open space, Grouped, Flowering accent plant, Commercial spaces, Banks, Background plant, Attracts butterflies
Height: 6 ft. – 8 ft.
Width: 8 ft. – 12 ft.

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