Silver in the Garden

Learn how the color silver affects you and your garden. Then discover the best ways to use silver, both alone and in combination with other colors.


Texture-Rich Silver
Enlarge Image The soft, silvery filigree of 'Silvermound' artemisia is a perfect foil for bolder plants like hosta.

Silver enchants green-dominated landscapes, visually underlining variations in greens that would otherwise go unnoticed. In hot, arid regions, silver stands in for green as the staple foliage color. Fuzzy silver-leaf plants have hairs that insulate against summer's heat and drought. This hairy coating gives silver its special reflective qualities.

Silver plants, whether the jagged leaves of an artichoke and its relatives, thistle and cardoon, or the wispy lace of 'Powis Castle' artemisia, weave fascinating textures into the border. Who can resist touching the plush leaves of lamb's ears, a favorite silver edger?

Discover the best silver plants for your garden.

Use lavender to complement silver; try these pretty plant selections.

How to Use Silver Plants
Enlarge Image Gray 'Spilled Milk' lungwort setsoff the intense color of 'Johnson'sBlue' cranesbill.

Almost any color scheme has space for silver, but it blends especially well with pastels: pale pinks, blues, yellows, lavender, and white. Silver's ethereal appearance makes pastels stand out like lighted candles.

As a foil to brilliant-color flowers, silver cools and tames. It brings together hot hues that otherwise appear garish. Silver-splattered foliage plants, including pulmonaria and lamium, also put a shine in the border. They're even more valuable because of their tolerance for shade.

Related Feature: Creating Colorful Foliage Gardens

Tips for Silver Plants
  • Grow these silver-leaf plants for their form: cardoon, clary sage, and globe thistle.
  • Many silver-leaf plants, especially those with aromatic foliage, don't attract hungry deer. The deer-repelling list includes salvia, lavender, rosemary, and yarrow.
  • Include plenty of silver spillers and cascading edgers, such as 'Silver Brocade' artemisia, snow-in-summer, silver thyme, lamb's ears, germander, and lamium, in your borders and containers.
  • Gray or silver embellishments, such as concrete statuary, mirrorlike water, or galvanized metal, act as ideal foils for plants.
Enlarge Image The silver-sueded leaves of annualdusty miller weave texture intobeds and containers.

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