fbpx Leadwort | The Morton Arboretum


Leadwort in early fall showing its blue summer flowers and red fall color.

Despite its somewhat understated common name, leadwort can add some zing to the garden, with truly blue flowers and a little red leaf color in autumn.

Botanical name:

Ceratostigma plumbaginoides

All common names:

Leadwort, plumbago, dwarf plumbago, Chinese leadwort

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Tree or Plant Type:

  • Ground cover,
  • Perennial

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

Landscape Uses:

  • Foundation,
  • Massing,
  • Patio/sidewalk

Size Range:

  • Small plant (6-12 inches)

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7,
  • Zone 8,
  • Zone 9

Soil Preference:

  • Acid soil,
  • Moist, well-drained soil


  • Dry sites,
  • Alkaline soil,
  • Clay soil

Seasons of Interest:

  • midsummer,
  • late summer,
  • early fall,
  • mid fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Blue

Shape or Form:

  • Creeping

Growth Rate:

  • Moderate,
  • Fast

More Information:

Size and Method of spreading

Leadwort grows between 6 and 12 inches high.  It is a colonizing ground cover.   Colonizing ground covers produce underground stems that spread out horizontally and shallowly, produce roots and then send up new shoots.  These plants are strong growers and may have the potential to grow aggressively.

Plant Care

Best growth is attained in well-drained, slightly acidic soils, but this plant can adapt to sandy and clay soils as well.
In warm climates, this plant is semi-evergreen.  In the north, it is deciduous.

Disease, pests, and problems

No common serious problems.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to China

Leaf description

The alternate, ovate leaves are borne on reddish stems and have hair on their margins.  Foliage is green in summer, turning to bronze or red in fall.

Flower description

Flowers are a deep, true blue.  They are produced from July until frost.  The sepals and bracts associated with these tubular flower are red and add color to the plant during the flowering season.

Fruit description

Fruit are small, dry capsules; not ornamentally important.


Location of Ceratostigma plumbaginoides (Leadwort) at the Arboretum