Chinese Plumbago: Sky Blue Flowers August to October

Chinese Plumbago: Sky Blue Flowers August to October

Chinese Plumbago

Photo Compliments James Gaither

Ceratostigma willmottianum, Chinese plumbago, or hardy plumbago is a small bushy deciduous shrub that provides great interest in the August to October time frame when its slender stems bear pale sky blue flowers (1 inch in width) on short terminal or axillary spikes in dense clusters amongst the foliage. Leaves (2 inches in length) are simple, rounded to lanceolat, often edged with purple; leaves turn red in autumn. This shrub is easy to grow in a sunny, well-drained spot. Although it’s a woody plant, it may die back to ground level in cold areas and reshoot in late spring. Chinese plumbago is best located at the front of beds and borders in small or large gardens. It can also be grown in bold clumps.

How To Make Your Chinese Plumbago Thrive

The Chinese plumbago thrives in a hot spot with full sun or light shade in rich, sandy, well-drained soil. It is truly drought tolerant once established, however, occasional summer watering encourages a heavier bloom through the late summer. You can prune to the ground in winter.

Follow a regular watering schedule during the first growing season to establish a deep, extensive root system. Feed with a general purpose fertilizer before new growth begins in spring. If you prefer a tidy, neat appearance, shear annually to shape. Pruning time is fall after flowering. This plant will thrive when drainage is good and it is planted in sunny location; in cold areas where winters are long, Chinese lumbago is best grown in a sheltered position against a sunny, south-facing wall.

General Chinese Plumbago Information

Pests and Diseases

Chinese plumbago is generally free from pests but may suffer from powdery mildew.


Cuttings of Chinese plumbago can be taken in July. Cut the semi-hard stems below a node and plunge into horticultural sand or a 50:50 mixture of compost and sand; pot up the following spring. This plant can be easily propagated using division as a propagation method.

Garden Uses

Plant on banks and slopes, city and courtyard gardens, cottage/informal gardens, and it is a superb as a container plant. Use it to line the edges of water gardens and rocky stream beds, or to edge paths and flagstone walks. Be cautious of the invasive nature of this plant.

Quick Facts

  • Plant Type: Shrub/perennial
  • Foliage Type: Deciduous
  • Plant Height: 3 feet
  • Plant Width: 5 feet
  • Hardiness Zones: Zones 6 to 9
  • Flower Color: Blue
  • Light Exposure: Full sun or light shade
  • Soil: Chalk, clay, sand, loam (very adaptable)
  • Water Requirements: Drought tolerant when established. Soil should be well drained.
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Landscape Uses: Border, mass planting, rock garden, woodland garden

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