How to Plant and Grow Dusty Miller

This annual is easy to grow and requires little maintenance.

Dusty Miller
Photo:

BHG / Evgeniya Vlasova

Dusty miller is easy to grow and long-lasting. This plant seems to thrive in almost any situation and is excellent both in the ground and in a container. Dusty miller is a tender perennial that's only winter-hardy in zones 7 to 10. Otherwise, it's grown as an annual.

With its trademark silver foliage, dusty miller looks good in any combination of plantings, and it's a good bedding plant. It also works well as a filler for cut flowers. The silvery look of the leaves comes from numerous tiny white hairs that are most prominent on the undersides of the leaves and the stems. Dusty miller is a good bedding plant.

Dusty miller is toxic to pets and can be toxic to humans as well.

Dusty Miller Overview

Genus Name Jacobaea maritima
Common Name Dusty Miller
Plant Type Annual
Light Sun
Height 6 to 12 inches
Width null to 2 feet
Flower Color Yellow
Foliage Color Gray/Silver
Season Features Colorful Fall Foliage
Special Features Cut Flowers, Good for Containers, Low Maintenance
Zones 10, 7, 8, 9
Propagation Seed, Stem Cuttings

Where to Plant Dusty Miller

Plant dusty miller in your garden to add brightness amid colorful flowers or lots of greenery. Plant in an area that gets full sun most of the day but with some shade later in the afternoon in very hot climates. Use it as a background for low-growing annuals, as a border, or in containers. This low-maintenance plant will thrive in drought-tolerant gardens.

How and When to Plant Dusty Miller

If cultivating dusty miller from seed, start them indoors about ten weeks before the season's last frost. Sow the seeds in a location with 65º-75º temperatures where there's lots of light, uncovered on top of moist soil. Within 10-15 days, germination will take place.

If transplanting from containers, make a hole the same size as the container and add the plant, covering the root balls with a bit of dry soil. Compact the soil with some water and add more soil if needed.

Dusty Miller Care Tips

Dusty miller is easy to grow and even easier to care for. This plant seems to thrive in almost any garden or yard. Once dusty miller is established, they're very drought-tolerant, which makes them great container plants.

Light

Dusty miller prefers to grow 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 more green.

Soil and Water


Dusty miller likes well-drained soil. In soil too heavy or too wet, there's a much higher risk of root rot developing. Because its origins are Mediterranean, it tolerates poor soil.

Water sparingly to keep soil from getting waterlogged. The best way to check if dusty miller needs watering is to test the topsoil. If the top 1 inch is dry, it's time to water. Indoor plants may need even less water since they don't get as much direct sunlight. Keep in mind that wilting may be a sign of too much, not too little, water.

Temperature and Humidity

Dusty miller thrives in hot, full sun thanks to its Mediterranean origins. It likes humidity as well, as long as plants have plenty of room to grow and lots of sunlight.

Fertilizer

Fertilizer is only necessary when the soil is of inferior quality. Amend the soil when planting dusty miller with organic matter like manure. Add slow-release fertilizer once a season or water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks if fertilizer is needed.

Pruning

Dusty miller doesn't need pruning, but if some of the leaves begin to yellow or if it starts to sprout small flowers, you can clip them off for a more appealing look.

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 them back to promote a flush of new silver growth late in the season, when plants often become scraggly and leggy.

Potting and Repotting

Like in garden beds, dusty miller's silvery tones add a lot to container gardens and hanging planters. Use a light, porous potting mix in a container with plenty of drainage. Add some peat moss to boost soil acidity and water more frequently than in-ground plants. If winters are cold, bring potted and hanging dusty miller plants indoors to protect them from the cold.

Pests and Problems

There's very little to worry about when it comes to pests and problems for dusty miller. Slugs may chew on their leaves and require hand-picking to rid the plants of them. Deer stay away from dusty miller, so it's a good choice to use around other plants that deer like to eat. Root rot can be an issue because of overwatering; otherwise, they're pretty much disease-free.

How to Propagate Dusty Miller

Propagate dusty miller in spring by cutting a 6-inch stem from new growth. Strip the leaves and dip the stem in rooting hormone. Place the branch in a container with moistened soilless potting soil. Keep the soil moist and warm, then transplant once new leaves begin to grow.

Types of Dusty Miller

Since dusty miller has been around for quite some time, it's surprising that so 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. European botanists have focused more on broader leaf varieties over the lacy types.

Blazin' Glory Dusty Miller

Blazin' Glory Dusty Miller

BHG / Evgeniya Vlasova

Blazin' Glory Senecio cephalophorus is a heat and drought-tolerant choice bearing silvery tongue-shaped leaves and producing bold red flowers in summer. It grows 18 inches tall and wide.

Cirrus Dusty Miller

Cirrus Senecio cineraria works as a ground cover with high-contrast white, bushy leaves.

Dusty Miller Companion Plants

Angelonia

dusty miller angelonia

BHG / Evgeniya Vlasova

Angelonia is also called summer snapdragon with its salvia-like purple, white and pink spires that reach a foot or two high. This tough plant blooms all summer long in hot, sunny spots. Some are sweetly scented. While most gardeners treat angelonia as an annual, it's a tough perennial in Zones 9-10.

Petunia

dusty miller petunia

BHG / Evgeniya Vlasova

Petunias are failproof favorites for gardeners everywhere and look wonderful next to dusty miller. They are vigorous growers and prolific bloomers from mid-spring through late fall. Color choices are nearly limitless, and many varieties are sweetly fragrant. Some also tout themselves as "weatherproof," meaning the flowers don't close up when water splashes them.

Basil

Basil Ocimum basilicum
Peter Krumhardt

Basil is a bushy plant suitable for garden beds or containers. Grow this cooking staple in a sunny spot, and you'll reap the rewards of flavorful foliage in shades of green, purple, or bronze. Basil plants are exceedingly sensitive to cold; start seeds indoors or sow outside only after all danger of frost has passed.

Garden Plans for Dusty Miller

Tiny Corner Garden Plan

tiny corner garden plan
Marty Baldwin

Easy Low-Water Garden Plan

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How tall does Dusty Miller grow?

    The tallest-growing variety of dusty miller is silver filigree, which can reach 8 inches high. The silver filigree can also spread up to 2 feet.

  • Can dusty miller be affected by powdery mildew?

    Yes, dusty miller is susceptible to powdery mildew, a fungus caused by aphids. If you see this happening, use a fungicide to treat your plants.

  • How do you dry dusty miller?

    Dusty miller makes a pretty dried plant for arrangements. Cut throughout the season and create bundles. Hang upside down to dry, then add to dried arrangements.

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