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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Saturday - October 18, 2008

From: Rehoboth Beach, DE
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Survival of non-native Cape Plumbago in Delaware
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a cape plumbago shrub growing in a large pot outdoors - but we are in Delaware - where it won't apparently survive the winter. How can I keep my plumbago safe over the winter?

ANSWER:

Plumbago auriculata, Cape Plumbago, is native to South Africa and therefore out of our line of expertise. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we recommend (and grow in our gardens) only plants native to North America and to the area in which they are being grown, because they are adapted to conditions in that area and so will require less water, fertilizer and maintenance.

We did however, find a website from the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension on Plumbago auriculata which said it is used as an annual in freeze-prone areas, and will only be perennial in USDA Zones 8b to 11; Delaware appears to be in Zone 6b. Another website you might want to look at is Taunton's Fine Gardening Cape Plumbago. This site says you can move it indoors, but it is especially prone to spider mites, whiteflies, and mealy bugs when being grown indoors.

 

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