Growing Leptodermis oblonga

Latin Name Pronunciation: lep-toe-der'miss   

A treat for a small space! This shrub in the Madder family (Rubiaceae) produces small clusters of tubular, lilac-colored flowers that look somewhat like those of Daphnes. Bloom begins in spring on a neatly rounded framework of fine stems, then continues into fall on new growth. This rare Himalayan treasure was discovered by E.H. Wilson. Prefers moist soil if grown in full sun. Plants may be slow to break dormancy in the spring, so be patient.

Light/Watering: Full sun to partial shade. Prefers moist soil if grown in full sun.

Fertilizer/Soil and pH: Average to moist, well-drained soil. We recommend against fertilizing at planting time and during the first growing season in your garden. Plants need time to settle in before being pushed to grow. Most established plants grow best if fertilized with a light hand. Here at the Farm, we fertilize our specimen trees and shrubs just once -- in early spring -- with a light but even coverage of a balanced, granular fertilizer (such 5-10-10, 10-10-10, or an organic fertilizer).

Watering: The key to getting your new shrub off to a good start is moisture. Water thoroughly after planting, and keep a close eye on the plant over the following week. Water when the top 1in of soil is dry. Unless there is plenty of rainfall (more than 1in per week), continue watering during the growing season when the top 1in of soil is dry. Established plants can generally get by on less water, but most grow best if the soil remains evenly moist. Please note that more water is not better. When in doubt, don't water.

Pests/Diseases: Rarely troubled by insects or diseases. Deer resistant.

Companions: Spring-blooming bulbs or perennials will add color to the area before Leptodermis begins its show. Use dark-leaved Heucheras to contrast with its smaller, solid green leaves and lilac-colored blooms.

Dividing/Transplanting: No dividing necessary, but plants do form root suckers. If needed, transplant in spring before new growth begins.

Calendar of Care

Early Spring: Fertilize with a light but even coverage of a balanced, granular fertilizer (such 5-10-10, 10-10-10, or an organic fertilizer). If a concentrated, water-soluble fertilizer is used, please follow the manufacturers' recommendations carefully. Minimal pruning is needed to remove any broken branches or winter damage. Plants may be slow to break dormancy in the spring, so be patient and wait for new growth to appear.

 

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