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The hero of any hot, dry garden, lavender cotton is grown mainly for its wonderful aromatic green or silver foliage with its little yellow flowers almost an afterthought. It's also widely used in knot gardens for a contrasting foliage. That's because these low shrubby perennials accept regular shearing with aplomb and have been used as low hedge plants for centuries. The distinctive foliage blends well in beds and borders, and in herb gardens. Scarcely decorative, the yellow blob-like flowerheads can be removed to retain the neatness of the plants. They are best in warm regions where humidity is low. High humidity causes lavender cotton to "melt down."
1 to 3 feet
1.5-3 feet wide, depending on variety
how to grow Lavender cotton
Cut santolina flowers for fresh bouquets or dried arrangements. To dry the stems of flowers or foliage, cut and bundle them; hang bunches upside down in a cool, dry place. Add dried santolina leaves to sachet blends to help repel moths from clothing and linens. Dried gray santolina leaves are occasionally used in sauces and soups.
garden plans for Lavender cotton
more varieties for lavender cotton
Santolina chaemacyparissus, also known as lavender cotton, is named for its soft, silvery-gray foliage that forms a mound up to 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide. The plant can be sheared to keep it more compact. It bears buttonlike yellow blooms in early summer. These can be sheared back after bloom to keep the plant tidy. Zones 6-11
Santolina rosmarinifolia is also called green lavender cotton and formerly was classified as Santolina virens. The plant has fine-texture, fragrant medium-green foliage. In spring it bears buttonlike yellow flowers. It is a good choice for rock gardens and herbal knot gardens. Avoid overwatering it to prevent the stems from flopping open in midsummer. Zones 7-9
plant Lavender cotton with
There are few gardens that don't have at least one salvia growing in them. Whether you have sun or shade, a dry garden or lots of rainfall, there's an annual salvia that you'll find indispensable. All attract hummingbirds, especially the red ones, and are great picks for hot, dry sites where you want tons of color all season. Most salvias don't like cool weather, so plant them outdoors after all danger of frost has passed.
Purple coneflower is so easy to grow and attractive and draws so many birds and butterflies that you simply must grow it, if you have the room. Valued for its large sturdy daisylike flowers with dropping petals, this prairie native will spread easily in good soil and full sun. It is bothered by few pests or diseases. It's a great cut flower -- bring in armloads of it to brighten the house. And birds and butterflies love it. Allow it to spread so that you have at least a small stand of it. Let the flowers go to seed and the goldfinches will love you, coming to feast on the seeds daily. Butterflies and helpful bees also love purple coneflower.It used to be that rosy purple or white were the only choices in flower color. Recent hybrids have introduced yellow, orange, burgundy, cream, and shades in between.
Blanket flowers are wonderfully cheerful, long-blooming plants for hot, sunny gardens. They produce single or double daisy flowers through most of the summer and well into fall. The light brick red ray flowers are tipped with yellow -- the colors of Mexican blankets.Blanket flowers tolerate light frost and are seldom eaten by deer. Deadhead the flowers to keep them blooming consistently through the summer and into fall. Some species tend to be short-lived, especially if the soil is not well drained.
Sedums are nearly the perfect plants. They look good from the moment they emerge from the soil in spring and continue to look fresh and fabulous all growing season long. Many are attractive even in winter when their foliage dies and is left standing. They're also drought-tolerant and need very little if any care. They're favorites of butterflies and useful bees. The tall types are outstanding for cutting and drying. Does it get better than that? Only in the fact that there are many different types of this wonderful plant, from tall types that will top 2 feet to low-growing groundcovers that form mats. All thrive in full sun with good drainage. Ground cover types do a good job of suppressing weeds, but seldom tolerate foot traffic. Some of the smaller ones are best grown in pots or treated as houseplants.