The Plectranthus genus is large, with more than 350 species of annuals, perennials, semi-succulents, and shrubs from Africa, Madagascar, Asia, Australia, and Pacific Islands. Members of the genus come in a variety of colors and sizes. But the blue spur flower (Plectranthus barbatus) stands out for its large, upright bushy structure. Also known by the botanical name Coleus barbatus, this plant is native to Africa but has spread abundantly.
These plants can grow up to five feet in size and have aggressive runners that can choke out native plants if not kept in check. However, this same destructive behavior makes them wonderful plants for creating dense garden beds. The blue spur flower features deep green foliage and sends up stalks with six to eight deep blue-to-purple flowers.
Before planting, be sure to check your area to ensure it is not an invasive pest concern. One way to avoid unwanted spreading is by planting them in containers. The Plectranthus genus does well grown in pots and can even be kept indoors.
|Botanical Name||Plectranthus barbatus, Coleus barbatus|
|Common Name||Blue Spur Flower, Candlestick Plant, Speckled Spur Flower, Zulu Wonder|
|Mature Size||5 feet tall|
|Sun Exposure||Sun to partial shade|
|Soil Type||Rich, well-draining|
|Soil pH||Neutral to acidic|
|Bloom Time||Late summer to early fall|
|Hardiness Zones||9 to 11|
Blue Spur Flower Care
Though it has vibrant blooms and a commanding presence, the blue spur flower is an easy-to-care-for addition to your garden. These plants thrive in dappled sunlight and well-draining soil. Try to mimic the environment of the rich forest floor and your Plectranthus barbatus will be very happy.
Because blue spur flowers are such prolific spreaders, occasional pruning is needed to help maintain a bushier, fuller plant. They are quite hardy and can withstand a wide range of temperatures. However, a deep freeze will kill these flowers, so be sure to protect them from very cold temperatures.
Most blue spur flowers can tolerate full sun, but they prefer partial shade to really thrive. They are naturally found in forests or river banks with filtered light, so imitating this type of lighting will create the healthiest specimens.
For indoor lighting, place in an area with bright, indirect lighting for best results.
These vibrant flowers need rich soil like those found in the forest. Adding some organic matter or compost to your soil before planting will mimic this fertile environment. This will also help the soil to drain well and prevent problems with overwatering.
The Plectranthus genus is drought resistant and, therefore, not very picky when it comes to watering. A regular watering schedule is still beneficial but resist the urge to water it constantly.
If you live in a hot, dry climate, more watering may be needed to keep it healthy. However, be sure not to overwater, as this can quickly kill your plant. Water when the top inch of soil feels dry.
Temperature and Humidity
Consistent with its hardy nature, the blue spur flower can withstand a wide range of temperatures. It does well with heat and can also survive a frost.
As a tropical plant, a deep freeze will kill this plant though, so be sure to protect it if you have any harsh weather heading your way. One way to do this would be to bring your blue spur flower inside for the winter.
The Plectranthus family is quite hardy and does not require frequent fertilizing to maintain a full and healthy plant. Adding organic material and compost to the soil before planting will provide its nutrition needs. If you would like to encourage growth and flowering, a general fertilizer will do the job nicely.
Potting and Repotting
The blue spur flower does quite well in pots and can even be brought inside during harsh winters to be kept as a houseplant. If you would like to keep this plant in a pot, make sure you choose one with good drainage.
Since these plants are drought-tolerant, they do not like to sit in water. Too much water can quickly kill them. This makes drainage holes a must.
Propagating Blue Spur Flower
The blue spur flower is an aggressive spreader. It does this by sending out offshoots under the soil. To propagate, you can simply dig up some of these offshoots and move the divided plant to its new area.
Another option for propagation is by using stem cuttings. The cuttings root easily in soil and can be grown without much hassle. Here’s how:
1. Using sharp garden snips or scissors, cut a section from your plant that is a few inches in length.
2. Remove the bottom leaves.
3. Place your cutting in damp soil. Keep moist while rooting.
Your new Plectranthus should take root rather quickly, and, before you know it, you will have another thriving plant.