Gotta Have It: Ceratostigma plumbaginoides

I know, it is a bit of a mouthful, but just think how clever you will sound when you go to the garden centre and ask for ceratostigma plumbaginoides.  They probably won’t know what you are talking about as I find this plant is very under appreciated. 

The common name for it is Blue Leadwort, but I do not find that gets any understanding looks either.  This is a plant that I picked up many years ago at Vineland Nurseries, and not even when it was in flower.  I just thought it had very attractive shiny foliage and it was a nice edger/ground cover.  But when it flowered in late August, I was hooked, brilliant blue (think plumbago, but even more intense).  The best part was how long the blooms lasted and how in September, when we started getting some cold nights, the foliage went scarlet!  My, was it gorgeous.

Since then, I have had this plant in every garden I have owned.  It is hardy zones 5-9 and grows by underground stolons, but I do not find it invasive.  It is late to come up in spring, which means that I plant it over my early bulbs, they flower, then ceratostigma comes up and hides that ratty foliage.

Early July

Early July

 Here it is planted over muscari.  You can see that it has hidden all the foliage and I really should have pulled out those seed heads before I took the pictured.


I do think the colour looks a little washed out in this photo, in real life it is more of an intense blue.

This is a plant that I will never be without in my garden.



24 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    teza said,

    And here is one of the most perplexing of all garden tales….. I cannot, for the life of me get this one to over winter in my garden, and after three attempts I have given up on it and went with its fabulously chartreuse cousin C. wilmottianum ‘My Love.’ Of course it’s my current Zinal Denial topic with a hardiness of Z 7-9. How do you do it woman? I too love the blue flowers and the amazing fall colours, but for some reason it didn’t love me in return…. Sigh!

    • 2

      Teza, I do not understand it, I also had it in Kingston, which is just as cold, but no snow cover for insulation. I actualy dug some up at my parents (Niagara) before the house was sold, it was almost invasive there!

  2. 3

    Janie said,

    I have this in my zone 9a garden. and I am, like you, resolved to never be without it as well. I love the true blue of this flower, and the fact that it is not faded out, even when it is past prime.

  3. 5

    I have it in my garden as well, zone 7b. What a great plant. It is in a sunnier part of my woodland garden, where it is spreading as a ground cover. I love its blue flowers.

  4. 7

    Sarah said,

    I sell this at the nursery I work at, and I absolutely love it! My boss just put in a large mass of it in a clients garden. I can’t wait to go back in the spring and take a picture of it. Great plant!

  5. 9

    Beautiful pictures, it’s always fun to meet new plants. I can see why it has become a permanent addition. Unfortunately not hardy in my zone, so I’ll have to enjoy yours. 🙂

  6. 11

    Mary Delle said,

    I have it, too. The blue is wonderful!!

  7. 13

    Grace said,

    It is indeed a delightful plant, Deborah. I love your photos. Years ago mine died from lack of summer water. I’ve learned a few things since then.

  8. 15

    sequoiagardens said,

    One of my favourites too! I noticed it yesterday in the Rosemary Border starting to make an impression, although not yet in flower. It is what Penelope Hobhouse in her understated way would describe as a “good-doer” – a plant that is valuable at all times without ever being in-your-face.

    • 16

      Jack, I could use a few more “good-doers” in my garden. But, I always seem to be attracted to the “bad boy”, the one that requires lots of time and care. (Good thing, I am not like that in real life (with men))LOL

  9. 17

    fairegarden said,

    Hi Deborah, I cannot get this to winter over either! I was blaming the drought, but it might be something else. It is so beautiful, the flowers, the foliage, everything about it. Might try again with your inspiration. 🙂


    • 18

      Frances, I am so surprised by the number of gardeners who cannot overwinter this plant. I thought it was bone hardy, it became a bit of a “weed” for my mother. It is beautiful, I hope you do try again.

  10. 19

    I love a well-behaved ground cover, especially one that waits it turn with bulbs 🙂

  11. 21

    garcan said,

    Hi Deborah
    I just put one in this spring in my Zone 5b garden. Based on some of the comments above, I guess it may be safer for me to mulch it for a better chance of surviving its first winter. I saw a picture and a description in one of my perennial books that the leaves turn nice orange red in the fall. That didn’t happen to mine. I am wondering did you get the red fall leaves.

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