Plant of the Month: September 2011

This month I’ve chosen two plants from the Ceratostigma genus because I like them both so much I couldn’t choose between them.

First the big brother:

Ceratostigma willmottianum

This is, for most of the year, a fairly nondescript twiggy thing of up to three feet high and then, come September, it puts forth these luminous blue flowers. It is not entirely hardy, coming in between H3 and H4 on the RHS’s scale. It loses its leaves in winter leaving prickly globed seedheads which gradually disintigrate (and yes, it does seed itself around, but not enough to make a nuisance of itself).

I cut it back very hard in Spring after the worst of the frosts at the time I give all the Fuchsias the same treatment and some years it would clearly have sprouted from these stems if given the chance whereas in colder years it just springs from the base.

I like its clear true blue flowers, its seedheads and the way it glories in some September sun.

And now for the little brother:

Ceratostigma plumbaginoides

Just a few inches high this plant has prettier, softer leaves than its relative with similar flowers held in smaller clumps. It’s less interesting in winter being herbaceous but I don’t hold that against it. The flowers are the same beautiful shining blue.

It makes for attractive ground cover, though it’s perhaps not as vigorous as one might like from ground cover. My plant hasn’t spread much in the time I’ve been tending it, but it does a good job, and a pretty one, of covering the ground in its little spot.

Both Ceratostigmas I’ve mentioned here have the RHS Award of Garden Merit and will cope happily in most soil as long as its well drained and in a reasonably sunny spot. It’s easy to tend towards yellows, reds and oranges at this time of year as we move towards autumn so it’s lovely to see some blue!

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5 responses to “Plant of the Month: September 2011

  1. Lovely plant – I used to have one – but it disappeared, you don’t see them in the garden centres very often – but I would love to have another.

  2. I love the blues. I have them in my garden, but they don’t do as well as yours.

  3. I’m another plumbago lover and had a gorgeous one that had gotten quite large. The problem is that in the spring, they are very late to sprout and unfortunately, I think it was accidentally pulled up and discarded when we were cultivating and doing our spring cleaning. I saw some tiny scraggly looking ones at the garden center last spring but passed on them. I do want another – ours was growing next to our caryopteris with Betty Prior roses behind them and the red and blue made a stunning combination. You’ve whet my appetite again, though…. I really need to find another plant for that spot!

  4. Pretty plants…thanks for the feature!

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