If you’re looking for a plant that will nearly single-handedly start off your garden, you could do worse than the dusty miller plant.
It’s a very robust plant, able to withstand both long spells of drought and high temperatures, and thanks to its silvery foliage and eye-catching flowers, it works well in any kind of planting scheme.
Interested in growing your own dusty miller? Here’s what you need to know.
At A Glance: What You Should Know About Dusty Miller
Dusty miller, previously known as Senecio cineraria, has quite a few names it can be sold under.
You may be familiar with its other names, including Silver Ragwort, Senecio maritimus, Cineraria maritima, and Othonna maritima, or its new scientific name, Jacobaea maritima, as it was recently reclassified.
To make it a little more confusing, other plants with silvery foliage similar to this one are also called dusty miller, and the name is used interchangeably.
Whichever name you choose, this is a plant worthy of any garden. It’s a perennial which originates from the Mediterranean, which explains its tolerance to dry climates that don’t experience a lot of rainfall.
In colder climates, you can treat this tender perennial as a summer annual, where it will bring plenty of color into your garden, so it is suitable for most gardens.
Some growers have reported that this plant will only survive in USDA zones 7 – 10, but others in zone 4 and other parts have indicated it can survive colder winters.
It’s worth noting that this plant is toxic when ingested, so keep it away from pets.
One good thing about this is deer and other grazers completely ignore it, so it’s a safe choice if you have lots of visitors of the wildlife variety!
How To Recognize Dusty Miller
The main talking point of dusty miller is its silvery foliage, which brighten up any area, and help to emphasize the color in any neighboring plants.
The foliage are covered in white hairs, giving the plant a wooly, soft look. You’ll notice that in wet weather, the silvery appearance is dampened somewhat as the hair lies flat, giving the plant a greener look.
Leaves can range from 2 to 6 inches long, dependent on the conditions as well as the cultivar. Some have much larger leaves, while others have smaller, lace-like foliage.
The plant itself can grow as large as 2 feet tall when treated as a perennial. If you grow dusty miller as an annual it’s likely to get to a maximum height of 38cm high.
As part of the sunflower family, it will produce reliable petite flowers in shades of yellow, or cream.
For those who just want to use the dusty miller as a border plant, they may take the flowers off, encouraging the plant to put its energy into growing more leaves.
Versatile And Tough: How To Use Dusty Miller In Your Garden
The soft hairs that make up the wooly texture of the dusty miller’s foliage looks particularly beautiful against much sharper, or toothed foliage.
You can plant it into mixed borders, beds, or containers, and it will thrive. For interesting borders, the dusty miller is a good option as it contrasts well against very bright colors such as flowers used as bedding plants.
It also helps that the dusty miller has a neat growth habit, ‘boxing off’ any beds, giving your planting scheme a neat look, one that you won’t have to tend to very often.
If you are interested in growing plants purely to enjoy during the evening or nighttime, the dusty miller is the perfect choice, as the leaves really come into their own, and bring out the best of any night-flowering plants you may have, softening structure and color into a dreamy landscape.
If you can’t get enough of this plant, you can easily take cuttings to create more, allowing you to fill out your garden quickly and easily. It’s also an easy plant to raise from seed.
This plant is also robust, resistant to most pests and diseases, except for rust. This makes dusty miller the perfect plant for gardens which are prone to disease.
To make the most out of it, make sure you plant it at the front or middle of a border, where the foliage can really shine through any planting scheme.
How To Care For Dusty Miller
Dusty miller is happy in full sunlight or partial shade. If you decide to grow dusty miller in shade, it’s worth noting that the silvery hues will be less pronounced.
The brighter the light levels, the brighter and more silvery the foliage will become.
This plant likes well-draining soil which is damp most of the time. It’s not particularly demanding when it comes to the nutrients in the soil, and it will grow in any soil type. This also means that you can save your fertilizer for more hungry plants, as dusty miller is not one of them
While identifying different cultivars of dusty miller can be confusing, this plant should be on your must-grow list at least once.
The foliage makes a great focal point in any garden, and it helps that the flowers are similarly bright, all the while slotting into any garden scheme, adapting well, without becoming invasive.
This striking plant needs to be seen in person for you to really get a sense of its beauty, and what better way than to grow it in your own garden?