Plumbago Auriculata Dead?

by Emma Crabtree
(Condeixa, Portugal)

Dear Selina,

Love the site! And I have a question about my plumbago.

The holiday watering didn't go according to plan and now what was once a healthy, blooming plant is now all dry and brown.

Would you recommend just taking off the leaves & dead heading or severely cutting back the plant?

It's on a south west facing wall and gets lots of sun all day. We won't get our first frosts for another 8 weeks or so.

Thanks, Emma.

Botanical Journeys Plant Guides Answer:

Hi Emma,

I'm glad you like Botanical Journeys!

It sounds to me as if your Plumbago plant has died back. But there's a good chance that it is not completely dead.

Scratch the bark on the lower stems with your fingernail to see if the cambium layer is still green.

If it is, the plant is still alive.

If not, the top growth is dead but the roots may still be alive underground so don't remove the plant.

Because cape leadwort is frost tender, I don't recommend hard pruning this late in the year.

If you cannot bear the ugly brown stems any longer, trim them back by no more than half. Keep the soil slightly moist and hopefully fresh green shoots will emerge in the spring.

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