A timeless garden staple, dusty miller will probably never go out of style. With its striking 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 beautiful plant lasts and lasts.
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.
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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.
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
Dusty Miller Companion Plants
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.