Learn all about the different types of Dusty Miller plant, get useful tips on how to cultivate them, and know the common problems faced by these silvery-gray plants.
The scientific name for the Dusty miller plant is Jacobaea maritima. It is native to the Mediterranean region and belongs to the Asteraceae family. This plant is mainly grown for its ornamental foliage. They are mainly used for landscaping and can make gardens look beautiful.
- Features of the Dusty Miller Plant
- Cultivation of the Dusty Miller Plant
- Problems faced by the Dusty Miller Plant
- Types of Dusty Miller
- Dusty miller
- Dusty Miller
- Garden Plans For Dusty miller
- Colorful Combinations
- Dusty Miller Care Must-Knows
- New Innovations
- More Varieties of Dusty Miller
- Plant Dusty Miller With:
- Jacobaea maritima
- A Classic Garden Annual
- Where Does Dusty Miller Shine?
- Pests and Problems
- Besides Planting Plugs, How Can I Grow Silver Ragwort?
- Which Types of Silver Ragwort are Worth Trying? (And Where to Buy Them)
- Goodbye, Mister Miller
- Dusty Miller Overview
- Types of Dusty Miller Plant
- Dusty Miller Care
- Growing The Dusty Miller Plant
- Dusty Millers: Add Silvery-Gray, Fern-Like Beauty in Your Flower Garden
- Dusty Miller Propagation
- How To Grow The Dusty Miller Plant
- Final note about Dusty Miller Flowers
- Caring for Your Dusty Miller
This plant can grow up to a height of 3 feet. It has silvery gray foliage and the texture of the leaves is very lacy. The leaves are covered with fine matted hair which gives the plant its silvery appearance. When this plant is wet, the green color becomes more visible, peeping through the silver hue. The leaves are 2 to 6 inches long and are alternately arranged with the stems. The flowers are yellow in color and grow to full bloom in midsummer, which is the blooming season. Once they are fully grown, they are very showy. This plant is drought resistant and thus remains fresh throughout the summer heat giving the garden a very colorful and bright look. This tender perennial can tolerate frost very well and is hardy in USDA zones 7 to 10. It is a very low maintenance plant that can be used for containers and as cut flowers.
This plant needs full sun to grow and thrive. A temperature between 40 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for this plant. Low to average humidity is best for this plant. It needs to be fertilized every 2 to 4 weeks in order to ensure that the plant is getting all the required nutrients to grow to become a healthy plant. Well-drained soil with compost is necessary for this plant. It is adaptable to sandy loam or acidic clay type soil. If this plant is being grown at home then it should be watered right after being planted so that the roots can absorb and withhold the water till the plant actually starts growing. Pruning is not really needed for these plants but in order to get a fresher looking plant, it is ideal to trim off the tops. In order for the plant to look bushier, the blooms need to be removed too. This is because the blooms take up a lot of nutrients from the plant making it look lanky.
Problems faced by the Dusty Miller Plant
The dusty miller can tolerate frost and drought very well, but not root rot. To ensure that there is no root rot, special care should be taken of the fact that the soil is draining well. Proper air circulation should also be ensured. Other than that, this plant can face certain problems. These are listed below.
Aphids are mainly the reason why this fungal disease spreads. If there are powdery spots on the leaves, then there are high chances that the plant has been infected with this problem. Fungicides can treat this problem well. Another home remedy to treat powdery mildew is spraying milk and water on the plant in a 1:10 ratio.
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Aphids can cause the leaves of the plant to get wrinkly or curled. In some cases, it can also cause the leaves to get detached from the stems. A mild insecticide can take care of this problem really well.
- Aster yellows
This is a phytoplasma disease that can cause the plant to get severely deformed. Unfortunately, this disease cannot be cured. The only option left with is to remove the infected plant at the soonest.
Types of Dusty Miller
This variety is characterized by large and round silver leaves. It can resist harsh weather conditions. The plant can give a very colorful and contrasting effect to any garden. It is also known as Centaurea Cineraria. The flowers are button-shaped and are yellow in color. It is an annual plant and grows up to a height of 0.83 to 1 foot. Its width can range from 0.67 feet to 2 feet. It is a mound-forming, showy plant that can tolerate deer and the seashore. It blooms from early summer to late summer and is hardy in USDA zones 7 to 9. Full sun is needed for the ideal growth of this plant, alongside soil that is either sand or clay loam with a pH of 5.5 to 7.5. It has an average water requirement. This plant has an upright growing habit. It is a low maintenance plant that does not require pruning. It does not have any negative characteristics either. It can best be put to use for mass planting, border edging, general garden use, hanging baskets and container planting. It has a medium growth rate. When growing this plant, the individual plants should be spaced 16 inches apart in order for the plant to have enough space to grow, alongside proper air circulation. This variety lives to be approximately 10 years old.
The scientific name for this variety is Senecio cineraria. It is a mounded plant that grows up to a height of 10 inches and is approximately 10 inches wide too. Other common names for this plant include Silver Ragwort and syn Jacobaea. The leaves of this variety are slightly finer than the Cirrus leaves have more of a silver hue to them. The shape of the leaves is like that of snowflakes. This variety is mainly grown for its foliage. It is ideal if the flower stems are trimmed in order to promote new growth. This is a low maintenance variety and can tolerate drought very well. It needs full sun exposure to grow. The soil should be well-drained with average moisture levels. Special care should be taken of the fact that there is no standing water, otherwise, the plant can die. This plant is hardy in USDA zones 6 to 10. The plug crop time is 4 to 5 weeks and it takes around 7 to 8 weeks for the transplant to finish. This variety is perfect for beds, borders and container plantings. 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature for this plant. Around 8 inches of space should be left between each plant to ensure that there is ample amount of space for the roots of the plant to grow. This is a selected variety that is not originally from North America. It is a drought-tolerant plant and is the best choice for a low water garden.
Dusty Miller ‘New Look’ 🔥 TIP: !
This variety is very productive. The leaves are very full. It is characterized by tall and thick stems with silver-edged leaves. The more this plant is picked, the more it grows. It is a fast-growing plant that is ready to cut in only 4 months. It is a perennial plant that grows up to a height of 12 to 18 inches. Full sun is ideal for the growth of this plant. It should be spaced at 9 to 12 inches in order to ensure proper air circulation. This plant approximately takes 90 to 120 days for maturity. To grow this variety, the seeds should be sown 10 to 12 weeks before the last frost. It is recommended to water at the bottom so that the roots have enough water. The seedlings do not have a very strong silver color. The color starts showing when the plant matures. This plant is hardy in USDA zones 8 to 10. This plant has small flowers yellow in color but these plants are usually picked out, owing to the fact that this plant is grown mainly for its foliage. This plant can best be put to use in fresh-cut flower displays and container plantings. This plant should be watered twice a week for the first six weeks. After that, it requires a lesser amount of water. Usual fertilizing is not needed. However, a timed-release fertilizer should be used at planting time. These plants can survive the cold weather really well.
This variety is the most delicate one. It is a compact plant that is excellent for borders, edging and pots. It has a slow growth rate and needs full sun to grow best. It can grow to a height of 7 inches and can spread 8 inches wide. It is an annual plant that is hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8.
Other names for this plant include Beach Wormwood, Sage and Mugwort. It has beautiful ferny foliage that has a lovely texture. It is resistant to deer. Dry soils are ideal for this plant to grow healthy. This variety is also known for its foliage. The fruit and flowers are not ornamentally significant. It has an upright growth habit. It needs regular maintenance in order to be healthy and to look good. It is best to get the plant cleaned up before spring so that it can actively grow during the season. It is resistant to deer and is best used for mass planting, as a ground cover or for general garden use.
This plant looks best with the Garden Phlox, Gayfeather and Coneflower. This plant needs to be fertilized regularly. It can grow in any location and can tolerate heat well. Pruning is highly advisable for this plant since the shape and size needs to be maintained. The flowers of this plant are not showy. The old flowers should be removed so that the plant looks healthy and there is enough energy in the plant to ensure that the foliage grows to become dense and thick.
It is a member of the Senecio family and the scientific name for this variety is Senecio cineraria ‘Ramparts’. This is a fairly low maintenance plant that is much easier to grow than the rest. Basic care should be provided for this plant to grow healthy. It needs full sun and well-drained moist soil for best growth.
It is also known as silver cascade dusty miller. This variety is hardy in zones 5 to 10. It grows to a height of 4 to 8 inches and spreads 12 to 14 inches. It needs full sun to grow healthy. More than 6 hours of sunlight are ideal for this variety. The foliage is silver in color. This short height perennial is easy to maintain and grow and requires an average amount of water. It is best put to use in containers and landscapes. Pruning is highly recommended for this plant since they can look undesirable after blooming. Pruning can keep the plant looking healthier for longer. It is an award winner plant.
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The scientific name for this plant is Chrysanthemum cineraria folium. This variety belongs to the Asteraceae family. It grows to a height of 1 to 1.33 feet and has a width of 1 foot. It is an annual plant with medium leaves that are very attractive and are in mounded form. The leaves are grayish-white in color and are dissected. The leaves grow 12 to 16 inches tall and 12 inches wide. The flowers of this variety are mustard yellow in color.
They should be pinched if they start becoming leggy. Full sun is ideal for the growth of this plant, alongside well-drained soil. These are often used as edging or border plants. Midsummer and early fall are the blooming seasons for this variety. The USDA hardiness zones are 8 to 10. Regular fertilizing is needed for this plant. The fertilizer should be water-soluble, temperature-controlled or organic. Regular watering should be done in order to keep the soil evenly moist. Special care should be taken for overwatering as it can cause the plant to rot.
The dusty miller plant is the generic name given to a lot of plant varieties with gray or silver leaves. It is a beautiful plant whose foliage can make any garden look beautiful.
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An old-fashioned garden staple, dusty miller will probably never go out of style. With its timeless silver foliage and lacy texture, this plant looks good throughout the whole growing season. Whether you use it as a backdrop for bright and bold flowers or as a statement piece in a container, this plant lasts and lasts.
Garden Plans For Dusty miller
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With its trademark silver foliage, dusty miller looks good in any combination. The silver look of the leaves actually comes from numerous tiny white hairs. These hairs are most prominent on the undersides of the leaves and on the stems. On older plants, the hairs can actually become worn off and you will begin to see the green underneath.
A good use for dusty miller is as a cut flower. The bright silver foliage acts as a clean contrast to bright florals, and it is a nice filler that’s different from your typical green foliage. It is not the most long-lasting cut flower, but it adds a wonderful elegance to any arrangement. Also try drying dusty miller!
Dusty Miller Care Must-Knows
One of the main reasons that dusty miller has stuck around for so long is because it is extremely easy to grow. This plant seems to thrive in almost any situation and is great both in the ground and in a container. Dusty miller prefers to be grown in full sun but will tolerate part shade. In more shade, the silver look of the leaves will be less intense and the plants will look greener.
Dusty miller also likes well-drained soils. In too heavy or too wet of soil, there is a much higher risk that root rot will develop. So make sure to plant in well-drained soils to prevent any problems. Once the plants are established, they are very drought-tolerant, which makes them great container plants.
As far as regular maintenance goes, these plants don’t require a whole lot. Sometimes you may see plants trying to bloom. Dusty miller is really only grown for its foliage, as the flowers are fairly boring—yellow blooms held on long stalks, which many people pinch off. Overall, dusty miller doesn’t mind being pinched or sheared back. This will actually help promote new growth and keep the plants lush and bushy. You can cut the plants back to promote a flush of new silver growth late in the season, when plants often become scraggly and leggy.
Easy Annual Gardens with a Punch
Since dusty miller has been around for quite some time, it is surprising that very few varieties are available. The few that have been introduced are generally more silver than the straight species, or they offer more heat tolerance. A few have notably lacier leaves as well. Recent developments by botanists have focused on broader leaf varieties rather than lacy types. Presently, most of this work is being done in Europe, so hopefully soon these new varieties will be making their way across the pond.
More Varieties of Dusty Miller
Blazin’ Glory Dusty Miller
Blazin’ Glory Senecio cephalophorus is a heat- and drought-tolerant selection bearing silvery tongue-shape leaves and bold red flowers in summer. It grows 18 inches tall and wide.
Plant Dusty Miller With:
Angelonia is also called summer snapdragon, and you’ll know why once you get a good look at it. It has salvia-like flower spires that reach a foot or 2 high. They’re studded with fascinating snapdragon-like flowers with beautiful colorations in purple, white, or pink. It’s the perfect plant for adding bright color to hot, sunny spaces. This tough plant blooms all summer long with spirelike spikes of blooms. While all varieties are beautiful, keep an eye out for the sweetly scented selections. While most gardeners treat angelonia as an annual, it is a tough perennial in Zones 9-10. Or, if you have a bright, sunny spot indoors, you can even keep it flowering all winter.
Petunias are failproof favorites for gardeners everywhere. They are vigorous growers and prolific bloomers from midspring through late fall. Color choices are nearly limitless, with some sporting beautiful veining and intriguing colors. Many varieties are sweetly fragrant (sniff blooms in the garden center to be sure). Some also tout themselves as “weatherproof,” which means that the flowers don’t close up when water is splashed on them. Wave petunias have made this plant even more popular. Reaching up to 4 feet long, Waves are great as a groundcover or when cascading from window boxes and pots. All petunias do best and grow more bushy and full if you pinch or cut them back by one- to two-thirds in midsummer. Shown above: Merlin Blue Morn petunia
Basil dishes up classic Italian flavor in eye-catching bushy plants suitable for garden beds or containers. Grow this tasty beauty in a sunny spot, and you’ll reap rewards of flavorful foliage in shades of green, purple, or bronze. Basil lends a distinctive taste to salads, pizza, and pasta dishes. Use small leaves whole; chop larger leaves. Add leaves to dishes just before serving for greatest taste and aroma. Basil plants are exceedingly sensitive to cold; start seeds indoors or sow outside after all danger of frost has passed.
The trouble with dusty miller is finding something not to like about it.
It has a lovely hue, likes full sun, and doesn’t care to be watered too often. You can throw it in the garden or in a container, and it will sing its thanks with reliable silvery foliage.
It’s an old favorite for a reason, and you’ll see why below. Here’s what’s ahead in this article:
Let’s dig in!
A Classic Garden Annual
About fifty percent of my favorite plants are the ones that I grew and grew up with as a child. Marigolds, pansies, and black-eyed susans are near the top, but good ol’ dusty miller takes the cake as my favorite.
I mean, look at that name – Dusty Miller? It’s impossible not to picture a wizened old man with a silvery beard and a squat build chuckling away in the garden. It’s a work of genius and art all by itself!
Photo by Matt Suwak.
It doesn’t hurt that it was my uncle’s favorite too. He passed away when I was young, and my aunt planted flowers at his grave every year. When she was too old to do it, I took on the responsibility.
Imagine the incredible, sappy-happy joy that I felt when I discovered that the dusty miller I planted in the spring survived a hot and humid summer, interrupted by a cold and bitter winter, to push out new growth the following spring like it was nothing.
Photo by Matt Suwak.
This might be common for those in USDA Hardiness Zones 8-10, where it is often grown as an herbaceous perennial. But in my neck of the woods, it’s practically taken for granted that this plant is an ornamental annual!
Since then, I often see dusty miller everywhere I go. But it’s usually relegated to the gardens of the older generations. And that’s a shame. It’s a beautiful foliage plant that is on the verge of a major resurgence in popularity, so you better keep on reading to learn everything you need to know about placing dusty miller in your garden.
Where Does Dusty Miller Shine?
As long as you plant dusty miller in environs where it will be happy, you’ll be happy with its display.
The silvery sheen is from many white hairs on the surface of the leaves. Photo by Matt Suwak.
Formerly known botanically as Senecio cineraria, it has more recently been recategorized in the Jacobaea genus, part of the Asteraceae family. Native to areas of the Mediterranean, it’s also known as silver ragwort, and is not to be confused with other plants that go by the common name “dusty miller,” including Centaurea cineraria and Lychnis coronaria.
Like I described above, it is typically perennial in zones 8 to 10, but I’ve had luck in zone 5 keeping ol’ J. maritima alive through the winter.
Silvery green J. maritima make a stunning addition to this garden bed, with purple heuchera, pink and white wax begonia, and other plants. It’s hard to find a place where it doesn’t work!
J. maritima thrives in sunny locations that have well-draining soil. It doesn’t require much water and is a great option for xeriscaping; in fact, too much water will spur a bout of root rot. And you don’t want that!
Luckily, J. maritima can thrive at most soil pH levels, and it can even tolerate some partial shade. If you grow yours in a less-than-sunny location, you will find that its iconic silvery sheen dissipates and is replaced by a gray-green color instead.
I’ve had great luck placing dusty miller in beds of wildflowers that thrive in similarly hot and dry conditions. The plant does very well in containers, and is one of my go-to options for adding some contrast with otherwise bright colors. It pairs especially well with ornamental grasses.
Even if it’s primarily a matter of personal taste, dusty miller pairs very well with white flowers too (especially Proven Winners’ ‘Diamond Dust’ euphorbia variety) by softening the complementary white shades. I admit that I try to squeeze dusty miller into every garden and container I can, but there’s a reason for that!
It Works Almost Anywhere
The silver sheen is subtle and not distracting, hardly an eye-catching piece of foliage, but that’s kind of the point. When you are designing your containerized plants, adding a more subtle plant to the mix works wonders.
Paired with dianthus, the silver-toned green color of the flowers’ stems is enhanced.
There is no shortage of plants you’ll encounter that are flashy and screaming for attention, and all the while humble dusty miller is happy to provide some contrast and textural variation.
A border of J. maritima adds a soft-hued contrast to other foliage, and helps to make colorful perennials and annuals really pop.
Photo by Matt Suwak.
The beaches of Cape Cod are strewn with J. maritima, and it presents the perfect conditions for the plant – hot and sunny, mostly dry, with well-drained soil. If you’ve got sandy soil where nothing grows, J. maritima is for you!
Just yesterday, I was walking the dog and noticed a very interesting container design. It incorporated cactus, ferns, and dusty miller all in one. I loved this unique grouping right away, partially because it demonstrates the variability of J. maritima.
Photo by Matt Suwak.
Keep in mind that in order to make this mix work, hidden inner containers were likely used to accommodate the greater hydration needs of the ferns than that of the desert plants.
Pests and Problems
Will you struggle to battle these if you add this plant to your outdoor space? Hardly!
Dusty miller is resistant to almost every bug, disease, and trouble you’ll find in the garden. This is at least in part because it thrives in hot and dry conditions where most troublemakers don’t reach.
I’ve got no problem with the leggy look, it pairs well with my heuchera. Photo by Matt Suwak.
It can suffer from rust infections, but it makes up for for this possibility by being largely deer resistant. The biggest issue you can encounter is typically root rot, but by planting J. maritima in the right location, this won’t be an issue.
If you grow this plant in shadier conditions, it tends to become leggy and stretched out, in an attempt to reach for more sunlight. I’m growing a few plants in a part-shade container in my backyard, and they are a little stretched and funny looking… but with the right plant pairings, that leggy growth is more of a positive than a detriment.
Some may not consider them to be showstopping, but I think this plant has great flowers, reminiscent of achillea!
Although dusty miller produces a lovely yellow flower, most gardeners tend to find it insignificant and less than worthwhile. You can cut the flower stalks down when they form, or you can let the plant do what it wants to do and enjoy a bit of yellow playing off those silvery hues!
Besides Planting Plugs, How Can I Grow Silver Ragwort?
Many times, you’ll find silver ragwort sold in 6-packs at the garden center. This is my preferred method for growing it. I love to start plants from seed, but J. maritima is one of the few where I prefer instant gratification.
If you’re inclined to try starting seeds, you should start them indoors about six weeks before the last frost date, or you can sow them directly to your garden about two weeks before the last freeze date. They’ll stand up to a bit of overcrowding, so you don’t need to thin them out too diligently.
Are you a fan of cuttings? Even if you’re not, I encourage you to give it a shot!
Your silver ragwort plants are great for starting cuttings. Find a piece that has become a bit woody and snip it from the parent plant.
Start cuttings in good-quality potting mix, and keep them watered. A rooting hormone can speed up the process and produce more reliable results.
Garden Safe TakeRoot Rooting Hormone, available on Amazon
Remember to snip those flowers if they have grown from your cuttings, to stimulate root and leaf development. This isn’t critical when the plants are already established in the garden, but it can be an important factor when considering J. maritima’s energy expenditure if you are attempting to start new plants from cuttings with strong roots.
Which Types of Silver Ragwort are Worth Trying? (And Where to Buy Them)
Well, if you ask me, they all are! Your best bet is to find plants at your local nursery or garden center. Growing from seed, as I mentioned above, can produce unexpected results since this species not true to seed, so growing from starts that already have the qualities that you’re looking for is the surest path to victory.
‘Silverdust’ Seeds, available from True Leaf Market
But, if you’re willing to give it a shot and want to start from seed, I recommend the ‘Silverdust’ cultivar. Some types of silver ragwort are marketed for their stronger or more intense foliage, but ‘Silverdust’ is ideal for a strong grower that doesn’t sing with too loud of a voice in the garden.
‘Silverdust’ Live Starter Plant
‘Silverdust’ is also available on Amazon as a live plant that you might like to try.
‘Cirrus’ Seeds, available from True Leaf Market
On the other hand, the ‘Cirrus’ cultivar is intentionally grown for a stronger, bolder silver foliage. This is quite attractive to add to a garden with other silver hues (some thyme varieties and eucalyptus come to mind), and offers a more pronounced appearance.
Goodbye, Mister Miller
The best way to see if J. maritima works in your garden is to add it in there! I promise that if you have the right conditions for it to thrive, you’ll be delighted that you introduced it to the menagerie you have growing already.
For more information on other plants that love hot and dry conditions, read our guide on black-eyed susans and another favorite, yarrow.
Thanks so much for reading, and happy gardening! Please drop us a comment below, and don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any questions.
Photos by Matt Suwak © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photos via Garden Safe, Orsana, and True Leaf Market. Uncredited photos: . With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.
About Matt Suwak
Matt Suwak was reared by the bear and the bobcat and the coyote of rural Pennsylvania. This upbringing keeps him permanently affixed to the outdoors where most of his personal time is invested in gardening, bird watching, and hiking. He presently resides in Philadelphia and works under the sun as a landscaper and gardener, and by moonlight as a writer. An incessant questioning of “Why?” affords him countless opportunities to ponder the (in)significance of the great and the small. He considers folksy adages priceless treasures and is fueled almost entirely by beer and hot sauce.
The name Dusty Miller may call to mind dark streets, alleyways, detectives in trench coats, and shady characters straight out of your favorite noir film or crime novel. Or perhaps an actual miller from days of yore covered in flour, if fantasy or historical fiction are more your taste.
While the name “dusty miller” is shared with a few other similar plants, we’re specifically discussing the Jacobaea Maritima, a name that sounds much more impressive and smart (as long as the person I’m talking to has no idea how to pronounce it.).
They make excellent landscaping foliage with their beautiful silver-felted leaves and fluffy voluptuousness. They’re a cinch to care for and a pleasing addition that will bring a different dimension to your flower garden.
Not convinced yet? Read on and see if I change your mind.
Dusty Miller Overview
|Common Name(s)||Dusty miller plant|
|Scientific Name||Jacobaea maritima|
|Height||Up to 3 feet|
|Soil||Well drained with compost|
|Fertilizer||General every 2-4 weeks|
|Propagation||Seeds or stems|
The dusty miller plant hails from many different places, mostly rocky coasts and cliffs. You’ll find these wooly-looking plants in far west Asia, northwest Africa, and southern Europe.
It is most often paired as counterbalance with flowering plants, though they do have yellow blooms of their own. You won’t usually see them, as most aficionados of this silvery vegetation will do away with the blossoms to keep the fronds as full as possible. The flowers cost the plant much of its silver.
Types of Dusty Miller Plant
Dusty Miller ‘Cirrus’
Cirrus – A good choice for ground cover in Zones 8a through 10a, with white, woolly leaves that make for great contrast.
Dusty Miller ‘Silverdust’
Silver Dust – The leaves are cut a bit more fine than Cirrus, and more silvery in shade. The shape of the fronds may remind you of large snowflakes. Definitely low maintenance and tolerant of drought.
Dusty Miller ‘New Look’
New Look – The fuller individual leaves of this variety make me think of sage. It’s a very productive type; the more of it you pick, the more stems you’ll get.
Dusty Miller ‘Silver Lace’
Silver Lace – As the name implies, this is one of the more delicate-looking plants of the group. The plant itself is quite compact and rounded, a good choice if you need to know exactly what size it will grow to.
Other varieties include Ramparts, Silver Filigree, and White Diamond.
Dusty Miller Care
Dusty miller plants are so remarkably easy to care for, they almost take care of themselves. Here are a few tips to keep things growing smoothly.
Seeds can be started indoors approximately 10 weeks before the last frost. Dusty Miller seeds are very tiny and germination requires light. The seeds should be sown on top of moist soil and left uncovered. Place the container in an area where the temperatures range from 65 to 75 degrees and where the seeds can receive lots of light. Germination generally occurs within 10 to 15 days.
Make a hole the same size as the container the plant originally resided within and cover the root balls with a light amount of dry soil. To protect the roots, compact the soil with some water and add more soil as needed.
While they can tolerate low or partial light, they definitely love to bask in the sun. Let them have that centerstage spotlight in the sky and they’ll sing your praises with better color and more compact growth. If you live somewhere with extremely hot temperatures, a bit of shade won’t hurt.
Watering once a week in milder temperatures will be enough. Warmer temps (90s and higher) may require a dousing twice a week.
Well-drained soil is a must to prevent the root rot that might plague the dusty millers. A bit of space between plantings, about nine to 12 inches, will help, too.
This step is a must as most soils are lacking in necessary nutrients for dusty millers. If you use water soluble fertilizer, a routine that includes application every two weeks should suffice. For the slow-release kind, once each growing season is fine.
You aren’t likely to need pruning. These plants are usually very specific in size and shape. (Another plus for easy gardening!) If you end up with one that likes to grow a little taller, you can always trim off the tops, leading to fluffier growth.
If you want a prettier, bushier plant, the blooms need to be removed. The flowers will suck nutrients from the plant and usually cause it to be lanky and less bushy. For this reason it’s rare to see the plant in full bloom in landscaping or gardens.
You have several choices here: grow from seed, try root division, or stem cuttings. You may find yourself lucky to live in an area where the plant returns on its own every year.
Start seeds 10 weeks before your last expected frost. Sow them on top of moist soil and let the light shine on them. In temps of 65 to 75 degrees, you should see sprouts in 10 to 15 days.
Put cuttings in a moist mixture of peat and perlite, cover with plastic, and set under bright light.
I swear, this plant is resistant to almost anything: deer, fire, drought, shade. If root rot gets them, check that the soil is draining and that there is some space between the plants to allow some air circulation.
Here are a few bugs and fungi that may come from other plants in your garden.
Aphids – If you see the leaves getting wrinkly, curled, stunted in growth, or even abandoning the stems entirely, check for these tiny suckers. A little insecticide should take care of them, though a bunch of hungry lady beetles could help in this department.
Aster yellows – No known cure for this phytoplasma disease that can cause deformities. Get rid of any infected plants ASAP.
Powdery mildew – At least this one is easy to “spot,” since it leaves powdery spots on leaves, usually the lower ones. The above-mentioned aphids are notorious for transmitting this fungal disease. Take care of them if they are present, and use a fungicide for the spots. Want something a little more organic? Try spraying with milk and water at a 1:10 ratio or use potassium bicarbonate.
Q. Is dusty miller plant an annual or a perennial?
A. Depends on where you live and what type of plant you choose. If you have relatively mild winters, you could very well leave them out all season long and have them spring back to life in the warmer temperatures. Some have even been known to take over gardens if allowed to seed! If you live in one of the zones where they are sold as annuals, expect them to die but watch and see what happens. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Q. Is dusty miller plant an annual or a perennial?
A. (Clearing throat and standing taller) Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Oh, you’ve heard that one, huh? Well, in this case it’s very true. Most gardeners choose this plant for the loveliness and contrast of the fronds, not the flowers. Since the blooms suck the life out of the bush and aren’t in any way spectacular, most choose to sacrifice them for the good of the garden. You could always allow a few to flower and harvest the seeds for more plants later.
Well, if you were expecting more crime novel references, I’m sorry to have disappointed you. I hope that the knowledge you’ve gleaned about this super-easy landscaping favorite known as the “real” dusty miller has excited you enough to give them a try. Pair them with your favorite flowers and wow the neighbors with your yard.
Send me pictures and comments of your flower and dusty miller plant pairings, let me know how they’re working for you.
Share this article with your fellow gardeners, perhaps a budding beginner who wants an easy-to-care-for ground-cover delight.
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Growing The Dusty Miller Plant
Dusty Millers: Add Silvery-Gray, Fern-Like Beauty in Your Flower Garden
by Frances Santos
The Dusty Miller plant has captured the eyes of many gardeners and landscape lovers because of its silver-gray and fern-like foliage.
In fact, its yellow or purple blooms are often overlooked and sometimes cut off to promote leaf growth. Dusty Miller is usually grown in formal bedding schemes, although it also looks great in cottage-style designs.
There’s no doubt that Dusty Miller can bring out striking contrast to the vibrant colors of your flower garden and lawn. Moreover, it is a perfect addition to a colorful container garden, edging the plants or acts as an excellent border. With its height of only around 12 inches, the Dusty Miller plant can be an ideal ground cover around bigger plants.
Get Dusty Miller Seeds
Dusty Miller Propagation
Dusty Miller is grown from seed. You have the option whether to plant the seeds directly into your garden outdoors or started indoors for transplanting at a later time.
It is best though to start the seeds indoors 10 weeks before the last frost. Its seeds are very fine and tiny and the germination process requires light. Plant the seeds on top of moist soil without covering the dish/plant box. Germinate seeds at 65-75 degrees. Germination will usually take 10 to 15 days.
Stem cuttings during summer is another way to propagate Dusty Miller. In fact in some areas, it grows back on its own year after year. Plant the cuttings in a mixture of moist peat and perlite.
Cover them with plastic and situate in an area with bright light. Keep in mind that the soil must have good drainage. If not, the roots will rot.
How To Grow The Dusty Miller Plant
Dusty Miller plants likes warm temperatures, full sun, moist and well drained soil. That’s it!
It is in fact easy to grow and can last for several years if properly cultivated. Initially, the soil must be mixed with plenty of compost. Replenish the soil by adding organic mulch every season. The ideal spacing is 10-13 inches apart. Water your Dusty Miller once or twice a week during dry periods.
Since moist soils contain insufficient nutrients, adding a general purpose fertilizer once or twice every month can greatly provide additional nourishment. Water soluble fertilizers must be mixed properly according to instructions and applied every 2 weeks. Slow release fertilizer must be mixed with soil once every growing season.
Final note about Dusty Miller Flowers
You might not want to cut off the yellow or purple blooms because they are pretty. However, as mentioned above, the flowers suck nutrients from the plants which cause less bushy and less attractive foliage. For healthier Dusty Miller, its nutrients and energy must go directly to foliage production, thus the flowers need to be removed.
You might want to trim the plants as well. Apart from maintaining a compact and attractive shape, this will also encourage abundant foliage.
Growing Dusty Miller is undemanding. It does not require expensive gardening tools or luxurious pampering. All you need is basic gardening skills and tools and you’re good to go. Start now and say hello to a more dazzling garden in no time.
The dusty miller plant is scientifically known as the Jacobaea maritima, though it was previously identified under the name of Senecio cineraria, and some places still incorrectly label the dusty miller with this name.
If you find yourself with a Jacobaea maritima or a Senecio cineraria, you might be confused about their care, but it’s important to realize that these plants are exactly the same. The dusty miller offers unusual silver-colored foliage with a soft felt-like texture. It forms in mounds and requires very little maintenance, so it is a wonderful addition to easy care gardens. The striking leaves provide a good contrast for other flowering plants; the dusty miller does flower itself, but these blooms are considered insignificant in comparison to its beautiful lacy foliage.
|Origin||North Africa, southern Europe, and western Asia|
|Scientific Name||Jacobaea maritima (formerly Senecio cineraria)|
|Type||Evergreen perennial plant|
|Common Names||Dusty miller, Silver ragwort|
|Height||Up to 3 feet|
|Toxicity||Toxic to pets and animals|
|Light||Full sun to partial shade|
|Watering||Low watering needs|
There are multiple plants going by the common name of ‘dusty miller,’ and in fact, many plants that have silver-colored foliage have earned this name. The true dusty miller is the Jacobaea maritima (formerly Senecio cineraria), and within this species of the plant there are numerous varieties you can choose from. Several varieties of dusty miller plants have been cultivated by breeders, and these include the following.
Jacobaea maritima ‘Cirrus’ – Credit to hortulus_aptus
This variety of dusty miller plant has a less delicate look than many of its relatives, with less serration on the edge of the foliage, making for a bolder and more defined look. The silver-white foliage of this variety has the soft felt texture associated with dusty miller plants, making it an ideal companion plant for contrasting flowers and foliage.
This variety of dusty miller is lower growing than many other, reaching heights of only up to 1 foot tall. It spreads easily, making it especially useful for ground cover, filling out gaps in flower beds and borders. It also works well in containers and hanging baskets, bringing shocks of unusual foliage color to different areas of the garden. The ‘Cirrus’ variety has an expected lifespan of around ten years if given the proper care.
This is a dainty looking variety of dusty miller, probably appearing as the most elegant of all the dusty miller varieties. It has delicate toothed leaves that are similar to ferns, and give a pretty lacy look. This plant grows to around 8 inches in height, making it suitable for container growing as well as in borders and beds. It not only forms a compact size but also a compact shape, naturally growing into a spherical shape. This plant is deer resistant and enjoys dry soil. It appreciates regular fertilization with a good amount of nitrogen to aid in lush foliar growth.
Jacobaea maritima ‘silver dust’ – Credit toRob Hille
The silvery foliage of this variety is delicately cut to give an elegant appeal. It has thick stems that grow to around 18 inches in height, reaching maturity at just four months old. This is an incredibly fast-growing plant that responds well to pruning. Cut back the height of the plant to encourage more growth lower down, as this will result in a lush, bushy plant. This plant is cold hardy and can survive well in low temperatures. It is drought-tolerant and works well when planted with other plants that have low water needs. This plant works particularly well in cut flower bouquets, filling out floral displays with unusual foliage.
‘Silver filigree’ / ‘Silver cascade’
This award-winning plant has a compact growth habit, reaching heights of between 4 and 8 inches but spreading up to 14 inches wide. It makes the good ground cover but is most commonly used in containers and borders. The silver foliage of the plant is deeply toothed, with a soft wooly texture.
Dusty miller plants are generally low-maintenance and easy-care plants, but this variety is the most easy-care of them all. As long as it is planted in a full sun position and is treated to occasional watering, then it should thrive without any extra attention.
Caring for Your Dusty Miller
Once the dusty miller plant is well established, it will be tolerant of drought and only need occasional watering. However, young plants should be kept in lightly moist soil to allow them to grow strong. This plant is averse to sitting in wet soil, and so a well-draining soil is essential to prevent root rot.
Amend poorly draining soils before planting your dusty miller by adding sand or grit. A well-draining soil will direct water away from the plant’s roots, offering protection in the event of heavy rain or overwatering. A mature dusty miller plant can survive extended periods without water. However, it is a good idea to offer weekly irrigation throughout summer to keep the plant in the best health.
Dusty miller plants thrive in full sun, though they will tolerate partial shade. If you want the most vibrant silver foliage color, you should ensure your dusty miller plant gets at least 8 hours of sun each day. This plant will survive in low light, but it will be at the cost of the intense silver leaf color.
Dusty miller plants grown in the shade also have a tendency to become leggy, as the stems branch out in search of sunlight. A full-sun position will help the plant to maintain a more attractive compact form. If you must position the plant in partial shade, make sure the shaded time is during the afternoon. This will offer the plant some relief from high temperatures during the hottest time of the day, though generally speaking, the plant tolerates heat well.
Dusty miller plants thrive in a wide range of temperatures, from 40 to 80 °F. The plant is hardy in USDA zones 7 through 10, though it can be grown in cooler zones than this as an annual rather than a perennial. The plant tolerates heat well, but in hot climates, it would benefit from afternoon shade where the temperature will be a few degrees lower (Missouri Botanical Garden).
Dusty millers can be grown from seed or from stem cuttings. To grow from seed, you can sow seeds directly outdoors once the final frost has passed, or sow them inside on a seed tray anywhere between 10 and 15 weeks before the last frost is predicted. To do this, sprinkle the seeds across a moist growing medium and maintain an even temperature of between 65 and 75 °F.
The dusty miller seeds require light in order to germinate, so don’t cover them over with soil and keep them in a bright spot. Germination typically takes between 10 and 15 days. Grow your seedlings inside by maintaining moist soil and transplanting them to larger containers when they are an inch or two in height.
Once the last frost has passed, you can transplant your seedlings outside. They work well as bedding plants in borders and flower beds.
Sowing seeds outside is exactly the same, though the weather must be warm to achieve germination. Thin the seedlings out so that around 18 inches of space separates each one, allowing adequate growing room for the plants to thrive.
Stem cuttings should be taken from the plant in summer if you wish to use this method of propagation. Softwood stems are needed for this, which should have all lower leaves removed before being placed in a moist growing medium and kept in a bright spot. You may also want to cover the cuttings over with a clear plastic bag to create greenhouse conditions to help the stem root.
Once roots have formed, you will notice new leafy growth above the soil. At this point, remove the plastic bag and wait a few more weeks before transplanting the new plant outside.
If your dusty miller gets leggy, then you should prune it to encourage more bushy growth. Cut it down to around half its height, and it will respond with more growth lower down, which will help the plant to fill out and become denser and lusher looking.
If you are happy with the size and shape of your dusty miller, then you may never need to prune back its stems at all. The flowers, however, are a different story. If your dusty miller blooms, it is advisable to cut off the flowers right away. The mustard-colored flowers are not visually appealing, and they take a lot of the plant’s energy. Cutting them off will ensure the plant uses its energy to continue producing attractive foliage, rather than being wasted on uninteresting flowers.
It’s rare to see these flowers growing in gardens, and most people will remove them as soon as they appear (University of Illinois Extension).
Dusty miller is a commonly used as an annual bedding plant.
Dusty miller is the common name of several plants with grey or silver leaves. The one commonly used as an annual bedding plant is actually a perennial subshrub native to the Mediterranean. It has been classified as Senecio cineraria, but some taxonomists now regard it as Jacobaea maritima. It is typically grown for its ornamental foliage. Although most references state that it is a tender perennial hardy only in zones 7 or 8-10, I have two plants that have survived two consecutive winters on the edge of zone 4 and 5 and I have read other reports of it surviving zone 4 winters. It is more likely a half-hardy perennial, with some types that are more cold tolerant than others.
The leaves are covered with fine hairs giving a felted or wooly appearance, which changes when wet (R).
The leaves of this herbaceous species are covered with fine matted hairs, giving them a felted or woolly, silver or white appearance. When wet the underlying green leaf becomes more visible, and the white color is not as intense when grown in the shade. Coloration can also vary with the cultivar. The 2-6 inch long leaves are arranged alternately or spirally along the stiff, hairy stems. The simple leaves are lance shaped and variously indented or
Some cultivars have highly dissected leaves.
cut with numerous lobes, many times appearing pinnately compound. Cultivars vary tremendously in the amount of dissection from just slightly sinute to an almost lace-like appearance, offering a wide range of medium to fine textures.
Many cultivars offer a fine texture to contrast with other plants.
Plants can grow up to 2 feet tall and as wide, but rarely achieve that stature when grown as an annual. When grown as an annual it normally forms a rounded mound 8-15 inches tall.
After the first year dusty miller will bloom, producing yellow or cream composite flowers in terminal clusters. The ray flowers are highly reduced and the flowers are not particularly ornamental. Some cultivars do not flower and many gardeners prefer to remove any flowers as they can detract from the foliage. Seeds are produced in cylindrical achenes.
Buds (L) and flowers (R) of blooming dusty miller (CL).
Dusty miller is heat and drought tolerant.
Being of Mediterranean origin, dusty miller is heat and drought tolerant and does best in full sun. It will it become leggy when grown in shade. Although it performs best in moist, well-drained, moderately rich soils, it is tolerant of poor soils. It will last past the first frost, but the leaves die back when temperatures are consistently below freezing. Plants that survive the winter will die back to the crowns, and vigorous new growth will emerge in late spring, so the dead foliage should be cut back in fall or late winter. Most people purchase dusty miller as bedding plants, but they can also be grown from seed or cuttings. Take tip cuttings from semi-hard wood in the summer. This plant has few pests and is not favored by deer.
Dusty miller as an accent in a container planting.
Dusty miller is a great complimentary foliage plant for flowering annuals in sunny sites. Use it as an accent plant in containers, as an edging, in borders or mixed plantings as a contrast for darker flowers or foliage. It combines well with other annuals, especially those that bloom in shades of pink, magenta, or violet. Or mix it with other foliage plants, such as the deep purple Purple Heart (Tradescantia pallida) for season-long color and contrast. They are also good in “moon gardens” as their foliage reflects moonlight.
– Susan Mahr, University of Wisconsin – Madison