This perennial makes a well-behaved and attractive groundcover.

Leadwort Overview

Description Leadwort may not sound like a flattering name, but this pretty, hardworking perennial still deserves a place in your garden. Prized for its tolerance of tough growing conditions, droughty soil, deer, and all sorts of pests, the clean green foliage and bright blue flowers, along with its fiery fall colors, all make leadwort a desirable garden plant. Fast-growing but not invasive, leadwort is often used as a groundcover or spreading perennial for the front of a bed. 
Genus Name Ceratostigma plumbaginoides
Common Name Leadwort
Plant Type Perennial
Light Part Sun, Sun
Height 6 to 12 inches
Width 12 to 18 inches
Flower Color Blue
Season Features Colorful Fall Foliage, Fall Bloom, Summer Bloom
Special Features Good for Containers
Zones 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Propagation Division
Problem Solvers Drought Tolerant, Groundcover, Slope/Erosion Control

Colorful Combinations

Leadwort is slow to emerge from winter dormancy, which makes it a wonderful companion for spring bulbs. As tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths finish blooming, leadwort emerges from the soil and unfurls new leaves. The plant's glossy green leaves cover up the withering bulb foliage. Leadwort's purple-blue flowers are pretty partners for yellow-flowered perennials such as yarrow and coreopsis.

Using Leadwort as Groundcover

Embrace leadwort's ability to spread by employing it as a groundcover in a shrub border or foundation planting. Not only will leadwort choke out weeds, but it will also provide a splash of floral color in summer and bright red foliage in fall. Space plants 8 to 12 inches apart (for faster coverage, plant every 8 inches).

Leadwort Care Must-Knows

Plant leadwort in full sun or part shade and well-drained soil. It will tolerate dry sites after it establishes a strong root system. Add a slow-release fertilizer if you would like to spur growth for quick groundcover. Fertilize again in early summer. If plants grow out of bounds, divide in spring, just after new growth emerges.

Leadwort is marginally hardy in Zone 5. It overwinters best when planted in well-drained soil; wet or boggy soil is particularly troublesome in winter. Spread a thick layer of insulating mulch over plants in late fall and rake it away in spring.

Leadwort Companion Plants


bluebeard shrub Caryopteris
Marty Baldwin

Offering rare blue late-season flowers, bluebeard grows into a compact and flattering companion to other late bloomers such as asters and black-eyed Susans. The wispy bunches of flowers develop along the stems in midsummer to early fall. Silvery bluebeard foliage adds a little extra shine to the landscape. Two tricks to growing bluebeard well: Prune the plants hard in spring when they begin to show new growth, and plant in well-drained soil to ensure the best bounceback after cold winters. A plethora of new varieties are available, including those with variegated green and white leaves, gold leaves, and pink flowers.

Small-Cup Daffodils

Antique Daffodil White Lady
Richard Hirneisen

Small-cup daffodils have all the same qualities as large-cup and trumpet daffodils, with the exception of the size of their cups. To be classified as a small-cup daffodil, the cup must be less than one-third the length of the petals. Most small-cup daffodils bear only one flower per stem. Blooms may be yellow, white, pink, or bicolor, and some are fragrant. Daffodils make good cut flowers. Plants may be full-size or miniature. All varieties in this class are deer- and rabbit-resistant.

Species Tulips

Tulipa batalinii Red Hunter
Kritsada Panichgul

If you want long-lived tulips, pick the species types. These include wild varieties and selections developed from those species. Most are smaller in stature and bloom size than hybrid tulips. Because they are variants of wildflowers, species tulips are usually long-lived, hardy, and withstand stormy spring weather conditions. Many multiply and spread from year to year. Species tulips are especially suited for growing in rock gardens or tucked into beds and borders. Many open only in sunny conditions, keeping their blooms closed on cloudy days or in the evening.

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