April 5, 2012

On A Whim

On a whim last spring I bought two plumbago plants, Plumbago auriculata (synonymous with capensis), that were vining up small bamboo teepees, too tippy in small pots when I got them, already in bloom.

I don't usually do that.  I rarely buy on a whim.  I research what I want for a particular spot, and shop around to find exactly the cultivar and size I want.

I don't succumb to buying perennials already in flower, which means they have been forced too early, overfed, and are already past prime.  I'm just not a see-it-and-want-it shopper.  But.

This was a total impulse buy .  .  .  and I got two of them.  Non-hardy in my zone, not even close, plumbago is a zone 8 plant.  Tropical.  Cape Leadworts from South Africa.

I do not know why they ended up in my cart, and I didn't know what to do with them when I got them home.

They turned out to be stars in my garden.

They literally bloomed all summer and right into fall, with phlox-like blooms all over in a clear sky blue color.  They quickly overtook the flimsy bamboo teepees.  They just went on and on gracing my garden and even trying to arch together to make a framed entry into the yard.



They worked out so well as a spontaneous addition to the garden, and I really want them again.

I invested in real pyramids for them to climb on this year.  I love these twig tuteurs even without any plants on them.

And I overwintered the plumbagos in pots all winter in a 40 degree garage.  I cut them to the ground last fall, dug them up, put them in pots in the garage.  I watered them occasionally, just to keep them from completely drying out for too long.  I waited all winter.

Now, in April, I should be seeing some sprouts, right?  A few basal green leaves at the woody crown?  Nothing yet.

When it was a whim, an unplanned addition to the garden, they grew with abandon.  Now that I desperately want towers of blue plumbago flowers, I can't get them to come back.

I'll have to do my usual --- research where to find Plumbago auriculata, go to some lengths to buy new plants, and put them in with intent, with a design and effect in mind.  No sticking an impulse buy in the ground this time, and being so pleasantly surprised.

Isn't that always the way?

 

24 comments:

  1. It was lovely to hear just how much you like having the Plumbago in your garden. Here they're regarded as very commonplace, a bit of a weed actually, and have really gone out of fashion. It's been terrific to see them doing so well at your place and looking so good. Here they get out of control very quickly and need to be kept under control.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bernie, plants respond so differently in various climates. We saw plumbago all over Hawaii when we were there a few months ago, and they did get quite tiresome. I can see how they would be considered commonplace. Here, in my cold, subdued climate they are wonderful!

      Delete
  2. Laurrie, what is life without a little impulse? You certainly got gratifying reinforcement for yours.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lee, impulsiveness is just not me !!
      But this worked out well I must say.

      Delete
  3. I can see why you want them back!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Carol. I'll have to buy new ones, but that's gardening.

      Delete
  4. Plumbago are beautiful. :o) I'm not much of an impulse shopper, either, but have been known to impulsively buy plants from the sale table that I normally would have passed by simply because they're a cheap gamble. Spontaneity is fun and you reaped the rewards all summer. :o)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tammy, I'm not very good at getting end of season bargains. When the garden is ready to wind down I am too, and the buys at the end of the year never grab me. But I know I could wind up with some real pleasant finds that way!

      Delete
  5. I'm normally not an impulse buyer either, but sometimes something just strikes you and you have to have it. I remember seeing these in bloom in one of your posts last summer and thinking how beautiful they were, but I didn't realize they weren't hardy in your zone. I had somewhat the same experience with my new agastache--none of them appear to be coming back this spring. But I loved them so much I'm going to buy some new ones this year anyway--I hope you also find some new plumbago this season. Love the twig tutuers!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rose, I have an agastache that comes back each year (I think you and I are in similar zones). I leave the dead stalks standing all winter. If you cut them back in fall, they act like open straws and funnel winter wet down into the crown, which agastache hates. Also, they are a little slow to wake up in spring, so you might get some returning if you wait. I hope. If not, your plan to buy more works too!

      Delete
    2. Thanks for the advice, Laurrie. I did cut them back in the fall, so I will remember to leave them alone this winter! I thought if they were going to survive any winter here, it would have been this one.

      Delete
  6. Those tuteurs are awesome--I'll keep everything crossed that your plumbago comes back. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heather, thanks! I have given up on the plumbago coming back --- no sign of any life in the pots I overwintered --- so I'll look for new plants. Oh well.

      Delete
  7. Mmmm, plumbago. I love them. Received one for my b'day the year I left, so no experience overwintering. Of course, they are everywhere here, but I am not tiring of them, and I have not seen them go out of flower in the almost 18(do you believe it) months that I have been here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Deborah, you must be surrounded by lots of plumbago. We certainly saw a little too much of them in Hawaii. Part of the appeal here is that it is unusual for us, and that it does flower on and on. 18 months in Barbados already --- wow, time is zipping away!

      Delete
  8. You are working with a plant I've not experience with but I hope you find what you are looking for. If not, the tuteurs can stand on their own.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Joene, I thought the tuteurs could stay uncovered too, I like them just as they are. But come summer I will want those pretty blue vining flowers on them!

      Delete
  9. I wouldn't give up on them yet...tropicals can take a while to wake from dormancy. It's often moisture rather than temperature that prods them into action. If you're in central CT I'm guessing you're still having temps below freezing at night, so you still have time before you'd plant them out. Why not bring them up into the warmth of the house and water them as if they were in active growth? You may see some life in them yet. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ellen, thanks for the advice. I know nothing about tropical plants! I can try bringing them into the house to warm up and see if they sprout, but when they were dug out of the ground last fall, they had very large rootballs and they are in huge pots. It will take a bit of maneuvering!

      Delete
  10. Great impulse buy! They looked gorgeous last year. Plumbago is one of those plants that's supposed to be really easy that so far has always died here. I'd love to have it because it'd be rather like Woodland Phlox all growing season.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sweetbay, plumbago grows like a weed in warm climates, but it struggles out of its comfort zone I guess. It did spectacularly all summer, it just doesn't seem to want to winter over even with protection, and maybe it didn't get enough water.

      Delete
  11. Laurrie, you reminded me of Plumbago at just the right time! I remember last Summer (yours) seeing your plants and thinking, "they must be annuals there, maybe I could do that too". Then I forgot. I have just been trying to think of something to grow on a new arch I bought, and then I read this post. I don't know if the Plumbago will overwinter here or not; I suspect it won't. But that just means it will be more controllable, as I'll train new plants up the arch each Spring. So, thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lyn, good timing! I'll want to see how it covers your arch next year if you do plant it. And if you dig it up for winter and try to get it through your cold season, I hope you have better luck than I did. I'm glad this post reminded you about planting plumbago.

      Delete
  12. oh I love 'bought on a whim' plants. I know you shouldn't do it but I've found so many wonderful plants that way that I may not have otherwise grown and it's always a good learning experience.

    ReplyDelete

Sorry about requiring code verification -- I experimented with turning it off to make commenting easier, and I got too much spam. Thanks for taking the time to comment, and to type in silly codes. I appreciate hearing from you.