Many plants from the tropics moved to home flower beds, greenhouses and received the status of indoor plants. The plumbago auriculata or plumbago was brought to Europe in the 18th century aboard a Dutch ship and has since been cultivated as a garden perennial in warm climates. In temperate climates, it is grown as a beautifully flowering ampelous and climbing houseplant. A bush densely strewn with blue, pink or red flowers, behind which the leaves are almost invisible, looks unusually romantic and gives the interior a special mood.
Characteristics of culture
In common parlance plumbago, a flowering plant from the Plum family, is called plumbum – a derivative of the word “lead” (in Latin “plumbum”). According to one of the assumptions, it got its name because of its chemical properties – it is an antidote for lead poisoning, according to another – the juice of the plant stains tissues in a bluish-blue, pale blue color, similar to the color of metal. Another common version is that the color of the blue or bluish-white petals resembles the shine of a lead surface. In the wild, the plumbago auriculata is found in the African and Australian tropics, in the Mediterranean.
Plants of the plumbago genus are herbaceous creeping or climbing shrubs, semi-shrubs from 0.5 to 3 m high. Lianoid shoots are covered with spirally arranged elliptical short-leaved leaves up to 12 cm long and about 2 cm wide. The edge of the leaf, narrowed at the base, is entire, sometimes hairy veins are clearly visible on the surface. Young leaves are green, in some varieties the lower part becomes whitish with age.
Thanks to the long flexible branches, the bush can be given a different shape:
- standard – shoots are tied at the bottom, the crown is spherical;
- ampelous – branches hang freely;
- lianoid – the stems are tied to a support.
Inflorescence, racemose or spike-shaped, collected from large (2-3 cm in diameter) almost sessile flowers similar in appearance to a phlox flower, is formed at the top of the shoot. A corolla of five rounded whitish-blue, white, pink, red petals with a central vein is located on a long (up to 5 cm) tubular calyx. Blooms profusely from March to September. The spread of the plant is facilitated by the viscous gluten secreted by the glands of the flower – the seeds stick to animal hair, bird feathers.
Types of plumbago auriculata
In the genus, according to some sources, there are seven species, according to others – ten. In decorative floriculture, most often, they use Cape lead, less often – Indian pink. Reproduction and care for both species do not have significant differences.
Plumbago blue or pigtail blue
The plumbago auriculata from South Africa (Cape Province) is called Cape, ear-shaped, blue (Plumbago auriculata Lam. or P. capensis Thunb.), the Greeks call it blue jasmine. More often it is grown as a bush, giving the desired shape when pruning, you can tie the shoots to a decorative support, plant it in a hanging container, put the pot on a high stand, and the branches will fall beautifully after decorative pruning.
Small (up to 5 cm) oval bare leaves with a smooth edge are light green above, grayish below. Blue, bluish-white flowers with a diameter of 2.5 cm are collected in spherical, like a phlox, inflorescences. Flowering begins in early spring and ends in October.
Indian plumbago auriculata or red plumbago auriculata
Indian plumbago auriculata (Plumbago indica) is called red because of the color of the flowers – their petals are red or pink-red. The leaves are similar in shape and color to blue plumbago. They are grown mainly in greenhouses, since it is difficult to maintain the required temperature and humidity level at home. Flowers with a diameter of 2.5-3 cm are collected in a loose racemose inflorescence.
You can create conditions close to natural indoors – there is always a bright and not very hot place. It should also be taken into account that the culture needs fresh air, free space for a voluminous crown and a cool room for winter rest.
In nature, plumbago grows in well-lit areas, so to maintain decorativeness at home, you need to choose a well-lit place – south, southwest, southeast windows. In the heat, provide shade from the midday sun.
After the purchase, the flower must be given the opportunity to adapt and not be placed in the bright sun. It can be transferred to a permanent place in a few days.
In summer, it is recommended to take the pot out to the garden, to the terrace, loggia, balcony, placing it where there are no through winds. It is necessary to accustom to changing conditions gradually so as not to expose the plant to stress from temperature changes and changes in lighting. In winter, daylight hours are short and due to lack of light, the leaves may fall off. To avoid exposure of shoots, you need to install fitolamps. If, nevertheless, part of the leaves fell off, then the plant will recover after spring pruning.
The piglet, despite the fact that it comes from the tropics, does not tolerate heat well. The optimum temperature is 18-25 ° C, indoors it can be maintained by regular ventilation and air humidification. In autumn, the temperature regime is lower – from 12 to 15 ° . At temperatures below 8 ° C, the flower may die.
After the end of flowering, a dormant period begins. It lasts from October-November to early spring. At this time, the pot must be transferred to a cool room (10-15 ° C), stop feeding, and prevent the soil from drying out. In order not to cause stagnation of moisture, water when the topsoil dries out. With insufficient lighting, the leaves fall off, therefore, if necessary, set the backlight.
If it is not possible to create conditions for wintering, then it can overwinter in warmth, but you need to be prepared for the fact that the plant will shed its leaves from high temperatures. In this case, cardinal pruning will be required in the spring.
For irrigation, settled water at room temperature is used – cold water, contrasting with warm soil, causes root rot. The signal for watering is the dried topsoil. It is necessary to water regularly, but moderately – excess moisture, as well as drying out of the soil, negatively affect the development and decorativeness.
To maintain humidity at the level of 80-85%, install humidifiers, water containers, use a spray gun, spray the plant daily in the heat. You can pour pebbles, crushed stone into the pan, put pieces of moss and pour water in small portions – the bottom of the pot should not come into contact with a humid environment.
During the period of active vegetation, before going to rest, top dressing is carried out 1-2 times a week, alternating weekly mineral and organic fertilizers. An infusion of mullein, humus, ash, bird droppings is suitable as an organic fertilizer:
- compost (humus, mullein) – 1 tbsp. l./1 l;
- bird droppings – 1 tsp /1 l;
- ash – 3 tbsp. l./1 l.
Self-prepared organic solutions have a specific smell, so it is convenient to use them in the summer when the flower is taken out into the street. In winter, ready-made fertilizers are used, for example, Vermistim, Humisol.
Fasco, Zdraven, Agricola, Pocon, etc. are suitable as mineral supplements. If desired, you can prepare the mineral mixture yourself: superphosphate (3 g) + ammonium nitrate (1 g) + potassium salt (1.5 g) + 1 liter of water.
Transplantation – timing, how to spend
Transplantation is carried out in early spring before the onset of the growing season. If a flower is bought in autumn or winter, then they wait for spring, transplant it earlier only if necessary: the plant is sick, the soil is poor, the pot is small. In the future, the first three years are transplanted annually, then at intervals of 2-3 years.
The culture is characterized by rapid growth, so the pot initially needs to be taken a little more than the size of the root system, tall and stable (in a narrow, low container, the flower can turn over), with drainage holes.
The soil can be used ready-made by purchasing a universal soil for indoor flowering plants and adding a little sand and humus for friability. If it is possible to pick up the components, then cook it yourself: 4 parts of riding turf + 2 parts of peat soil + 1 part of humus and leafy soil + a little sand, superphosphate.
It is difficult to transplant a voluminous bush, therefore only the top layer of soil is replaced.
Pruned plumbago in late February or early spring. The purpose of pruning is to stimulate the growth of new shoots, abundant flowering because flowers form on young branches. The shoots grow rapidly in length, but almost do not branch, therefore, without pruning, they lose their decorative effect, especially in the bush form.
If the plant is grown as an ampelous, then the shoots are cut to the desired length so that they look neat. When using support, pruning can be omitted, replacing it with pinching the tops, which activates the growth of side shoots. The branch will not be able to wrap itself around the support, so it needs help.
Some of the strongest skeletal shoots are left at the bush, shortening them to the desired length, the side branches are cut to 2/3 of the length, leaving 4-6 leaves. Weak and thickening branches are also cut off. Pruning to renew or restore the plant is carried out dramatically – all shoots are shortened to 30 cm.
The piglet has a high resistance to infection by infectious diseases, pests, but sometimes it is attacked by insects when kept outdoors in the summer, when using soil infected with larvae, having sick neighbors, and indoor air that is too dry.
The greatest danger is represented by aphids, scale insects, mealybugs, spider mites. While there are few pests, it is difficult to detect them, but as soon as they form colonies, primary signs appear:
- the aphid leaves a sugary coating on the leaves, the colonies are clearly visible in the axils of the leaves;
- the presence of a spider mite is reported by the thinnest grayish cobweb on leaves, shoots;
- in place of the mealybug colonies, a whitish-gray coating appears, similar to cotton wool;
- the scab leaves behind a sticky coating, small dark spots are the places of bite.
In the initial stage of the lesion, they can be dealt with without drugs: remove them mechanically with a sponge, cotton pad, then rinse the leaves, stems first with clean water, then rinse with soapy water. Repeat the procedure 2-3 times at weekly intervals. If there are a lot of insects, then you can’t cope without insecticides. The soil in the pot must be covered with a film before washing, then treated with an insecticide.
At home, the piglet is propagated by seeds and cuttings. If there is an adult plant, then it is easier to propagate by cuttings. The seed method is used for breeding. The soil is prepared in advance by mixing ready-made soil for seedlings of flower crops with peat, sand, perlite (they give friability), disinfected with a pink solution of manganese, or kept in the cold.
Sowing seeds for seedlings:
- moisten the soil, evenly distribute the seeds over the surface, sprinkle with dry earth, moisten with a spray bottle;
- cover the container with a transparent lid, film, put in a warm (20 ° C) bright place;
- ventilate the greenhouse daily, moisten, if necessary, the soil;
- picking to carry out in the presence of 2-3 leaves;
- when the seedlings grow up, transplant into small pots;
- flowering will begin after two years.
It is convenient to harvest material for cuttings during spring pruning, using green, non-lignified shoots – they take root better. At the cutting (length 8-10 cm), the lower leaves are removed, the lower cut is made obliquely to increase the area of contact with water and soil.