A member of the morning glory plant family, Blue Mauritius is a perennial, herbaceous summer flower with bright blue flowers. It is often cultivated in rock gardens, in tubs or as a hanging traffic light plant. The creeping plant, referred to by botanists as Convolvulus sabatius, reaches heights of between 10 cm and 50 cm, making it ideal for planting under shrubs and other higher-growing garden plants. Although the Mediterranean flower is not hardy, it will delight gardeners for several years with its blooms from May to October if it is given suitable winter quarters.
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Just as the Blue Mauritius is familiar from its homeland of Italy and Africa, it prefers a sunny location. In addition, successful care includes the following factors:
- At least 4 hours of sun daily.
- A suitable substrate consists of potting soil and clay granules.
- Alternatively, nutrient-rich, loamy garden soil.
- Add a handful of sand for more permeability.
- Enrich the potting soil with a little algae lime or rock flour.
- Pour plenty, after a thumb test.
- Water daily if necessary during dry periods.
- Clean out wilted plant parts every few days.
- Occasional slight pruning encourages increased flowering.
In particular, the cleaning of withered flowers and leaves must not be missed. On the one hand, the experienced gardener prevents unwanted seeds from forming. On the other hand, this care measure encourages the Convolvulus sabatius to bloom, so that the bright blue flowers appear well into October. Incidentally, the Blue Mauritius is also a hard-working climber, so with the help of an appropriate trellis it offers a decorative privacy screen for the seat in the garden or on the terrace.
Because the Blue Mauritius develops dense flowers and foliage, its energy and nutrient requirements are correspondingly high. Therefore, a long-term fertilizer is already added to the substrate during the first planting. If you have access to well-rotted garden compost, add it to the potting soil with a handful of horn shavings or horn meal. After an average of 6 to 8 weeks, the nutrient reserves of the basic fertilizer are used up. From then on, the insatiable plant receives a weekly dose of liquid fertilizer. In August, the application of fertilizer is ended so that the summer flower prepares for the coming hibernation. In particular, a further supply of nitrogen from this point on causes leaves and shoots that are too soft to get through the cold season, even if this phase is spent in winter quarters.
The not hardy Blue Mauritius is brought into a bright, frost-proof room before the first frost. Ideally, the temperature here should be around 10° Celsius during the winter break. An unheated stairwell, garage or greenhouse is best suited for this purpose.
After the application of fertilizer had already ended in August, a gradual reduction in the amount of irrigation water follows from September. In its cool winter home, the Blue Mauritius will need significantly less water. If the plant is watered in summer quantities until just before it is put away, the root ball will then be far too wet and cannot use up the stored water, which leads to waterlogging and ultimately the risk of the entire plant dying off.
Additionally, it makes sense to cut back the creeping bindweed by at least half before moving. From February/March, the flower is gradually acclimated to higher temperatures and more sunlight before being put outside again from mid-May.
As soon as it sprouts again in spring, it will receive more water and a small dose of liquid fertilizer. Convolvulus sabatius, which are cultivated in beds, have very little chance of surviving the winter in the local latitudes. If you still want to try it, cut the plant back radically in October, cover it with garden fleece or a thick layer of leaves, straw or brushwood and hope for a mild winter.
As part of the pruning, the industrious hobby gardener gets a lot of plant material at hand for propagation by cuttings:
- Mature, non-lignified shoots with at least 3 pairs of leaves.
- Remove flowers, buds and remaining leaves.
- Put 3 cuttings in a small pot with potting soil.
- Lightly water or spray shoots and substrate.
- Put a plastic bag over each pot and secure with a rubber band.
- Alternatively, place the pots in a mini greenhouse.
- Place in a warm, bright place out of direct sunlight.
- Moisten regularly and air the case or lid.
- At about 20° Celsius, rooting begins after about 3 to 4 weeks.
- Then each cutting gets its own pot.
- The young plants are cultivated like adult plants until mid-May.
Another uncomplicated method of propagation is using seeds. You can collect these yourself by opening the mature seed pods, drying them and storing them until next spring. Alternatively, Blue Mauritius seeds can be purchased cheaply in garden shops.
- Soak the seeds in room-warm water overnight.
- Sow in a seed tray or small pot filled with potting soil.
- Cover lightly with soil and spray with water.
- A transparent bag slipped over it ensures a warm and humid microclimate.
- In a bright, warm place, it will take about 3 weeks for germination to begin.
- During this time, always keep the substrate and seedlings slightly moist.
- From a height of approx. 3 cm, the strongest seedlings are pricked out.
- The safest way to separate is with a special pricking stick.
- They are transplanted into individual pots and reared until they can go outside.
- It may be necessary to repot the very vigorous plants from time to time.
Instead of buying potting soil, you can also make it yourself. Peat and quartz sand are mixed in a ratio of 1: 1 and sterilized in an oven at 200° Celsius for 20 minutes. Environmentally conscious gardeners who do not use peat choose coconut soil. Not only is it particularly loose and permeable, it also doesn’t mold as quickly and stores the irrigation water for longer.
diseases and pests
Due to the bright blue flowers, the Convolvulus sabatius is particularly endangered by the infestation of flower thrips. These pests were introduced to Europe from America in the 1980s and have been making life difficult for hobby gardeners ever since. The Californian flower thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis) has particularly stood out because it not only transmits viruses, but also demonstrates high resistance to insecticides. However, experienced gardeners are not deterred by this fact, but instead use the natural enemies of flower thrips, the predatory mites Amblyseius cucumeris and Amblyseius barkeri, to combat it.
In addition, good results have been reported with the use of lacewing larvae. The beneficial insects are available in specialist shops and are applied to the affected plants, whereby it is important to follow the instructions exactly and to observe the dosage specifications. As with all biological control methods, repeated use is usually required when using predatory mites and lacewing larvae so that the pests can be completely eliminated. Since the flower thrips are really tiny at 1 mm to 2 mm, it is advisable to use blue adhesive boards to check them. These are counted weekly on both sides.
Other pests that tamper with the Blue Mauritius are aphids, whiteflies and spider mites.
Decorative planting ideas with the Blue Mauritius
Thanks to the creeping growth habit, the Convolvulus sabatius is the perfect traffic light plant. The summer flower gets an extremely lush development of its blossoms and leaves in a hanging basket. This is a wire basket that gives the plants a lot more space than a closed traffic light pot.
This is how a hanging basket traffic light is planted
Since the baskets are round in shape, they need a stable stand during planting. They get this on a bucket or a large pot. Since the substrate would trickle out again immediately through the relatively large wire mesh, an insert is put in. Sphagnum moss, which is also used when planting orchids, is ideal for this purpose. On the other hand, felt or coconut mats are also ideal, as is environmentally friendly recycled cardboard. Lined with such material, the substrate will remain in the hanging basket.
It is important to spread out the lining as thinly as possible so that the Blue Mauritius has as much space as possible. In addition, the insert should be slit on the sides so that the tendrils can spread all around. To do this, it is necessary to carefully thread the shoots through the slits to the end of the stem after inserting them into the substrate. Since the hanging baskets dry out quickly given their construction, it is necessary to water them in the morning and evening on dry days in summer. With a styrofoam insert in the middle of the basket, the irrigation water is kept longer in the traffic light. The plant in the hanging basket makes up for this extra work with an incomparable abundance of flowers.
Flower combination for even more colourfulness
Hanging basket traffic lights are available in different sizes with a diameter of 30 cm and more. Garden lovers who want a uniformly blue sea of flowers can plant a corresponding number of Blue Mauritius. However, there is nothing wrong with combining different hanging plants if you want it to be particularly colourful. The following summer flowers are suitable for a harmonious arrangement with the Blue Mauritius:
Since such a traffic light plant will develop a weight that is not to be underestimated, when buying it should be borne in mind that there is a suitable chain on the wire basket for attachment.
Attractive privacy screen with mobile trellis
Since the Blue Mauritus is a keen climber, it is also ideal as an opulent flowering plant for a flower box for trellis. The advantages are obvious: Thanks to its mobility, the privacy screen can be set up anywhere in the garden where the hobby gardener doesn’t want to be on display. When winter approaches, flower boxes including trellis are simply moved to the winter quarters. As a morning glory, the Convolvulus sabatius only needs a little support in the lower row of the trellis to find its way up. It is important to note that the shoots are not tied too tightly so that they are not damaged by the fastening material. If you place the trellis in front of a wall, make sure there is sufficient distance
Sky-blue flowers as far as the eye can see are offered by a lovingly tended Blue Mauritius in light-flooded locations in every garden. The morning glory plant has taken the hearts of hobby gardeners by storm, especially as an impressive traffic light plant. It also cuts a fine figure as a climbing plant on a trellis or under planting of higher-growing garden plants. Since the Blue Mauritius is quite thirsty and hungry for nutrients, but is otherwise satisfied with the occasional cleaning, it can be found in more and more home gardens. Especially in the new, decorative hanging baskets, the Convolvulus sabatius can show what great willingness to flower it is. Although the Mediterranean summer flower is not hardy, it can be cultivated for several years if it has a bright, cool winter quarters.