The Q&A Archives: Keeping the Plumbago auriculata 'Monott' over winter in Wisconsin

Question: Hoping you can give me some information on how to keep my beautiful blue plumbago over winter. It had been at the greenhouse since last season 2004, so does it need replanting. Has lost most of its leaves but has good bloosems yet. I still have it outside, with nights down in the 40s. Would it need trimming now or wait till spring. When does it set buds and it looks like it is on new wood??? Thanks Lanette

Answer: Commonly known as leadwort, Plumbago harks from warm areas like South Africa and Southeast Asia. It adores full sun, well-draining sandy soil, and requires little water once established (a bit more if grown in a pot). Bearing an abundance of blue phlox-like blooms from spring through fall, it?s a carefree plant whose main need is regular pruning to encourage bushiness and keep its vigorous growth in check. In late winter or early spring, prune away 1/3 to 1/2 of the shrub. For gardeners in cold climates, incorporate pruning into the overwintering process, which starts in late fall. Just before the first fall frost or when the plant shows the first sign of cold damage or dieback, bring it indoors. Prune the entire plant back by at least half and store it in a frost-free but cool basement or garage. If possible, place it near a window so it receives some light. Water just enough to keep it from drying out. In March, move the plant to a warmer, brighter spot indoors, increase watering, and begin feeding it with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer. Gradually introduce it to the outdoors once spring frosts are gone for good. Plumbago sets flower buds on new spring growth.

Best wishes with your plant!

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