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Leadwort, sometimes called plumbago, is a late summer and fall gem that is easily forgotten the rest of the year. Its green foliage is fairly nondescript until the blue flowers open on red stems in late August. These are leaf-losing (deciduous), flowering shrubs that can be grown in a greenhouse in the North and outdoors in the far South. P. capensis, the more popular kind, is from southern Africa. In a greenhouse it needs a winter temperature of 45-50 degrees. It will flourish outdoors in a sunny area in mild climates such as Florida and California. In a greenhouse this plant can reach a height of 8 feet or more. It bears clusters of beautiful pale blue flowers, mostly in the summer, but it more or less continues throughout the autumn months. The long shoots can be trained up onto a trellis or other support. A white flowered variety, P. capensis alba, is also grown. Another kind P. indica (rosea), produces rose-colored blooms in the winter and spring. It needs a higher temperature (55-60 degrees) than P. capensis. The plant blooms through and beyond light frosts. Frosts only add to its interest in the Garden by inducing a rich, red, leaf in the fall.
Though a fall knockout, plumbago is best planted in the spring. It spreads slowly from rhizomes that need time to get established before winter. The upright stems with woody bases grow to 18 inches. The plant is rated hardy to USDA zone 5 for Front Range Gardens.
Leadwort is very shade tolerant, blooming in spots that receive only a couple hours of sunlight daily. It also thrives in full sun. Plants prosper in average soils and require only occasional watering once established.
Try planting leadwort in combination with feather reed grass, tufted hair grass, asters, buff-red flowered sedums, purple coneflower, and yellow, red or lavender-pink mums. This plant also goes well with yellow, late-summer blooming black-eyed Susans and other sunflower relatives.
Varities: P. capensis; P. capensis alba; P. indica.
Propagation: Cuttings are used to increase these plants. New shoots are taken and inserted in pots of sandy soil in the spring or early summer. The pots are set in a propagating case for a few weeks, kept moist, and provided with shade from bright sunlight. P. indica can also be increased by root cuttings.
The root of the plant is acrid and stimulant.It is useful in inducing copious perspiration and in promoting salivation. It also strengthen stomach and aids in the action.Its leaves are almost tasteless, have hard cellulose and are slightly slimy.Raw juice of its leaves can be taken by itself or can be added to mixed green vegetables and lettuces to prepare cake. The herb is useful in the treatment of rheumatic and paralytic affections. Blended with little mild oil such as refined coconut oil , it is applied externally over the affected parts.
Its leaves are useful in dyspepsia,diarrhea and piles. It increases digestive power s and stimulates appetite. The herb is used in the treatment of chronic skin diseases as well as in leucoderma. and baldness. The paste made with the salt and water is useful for obstinate skin diseases such as syphilitic ulcers. scabies varicose ulcers and ringworm.Paste of the root is also used over glandular tumors and abscesses. The fresh juice of the root is very acrid and blisters the skin.
The root of the herb in large dose is narcotic and irritant. It should therefore be given only in small doses.
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Miracles of Herbs