Dusty Miller

Dusty Miller
Plant Type
Sunlight Amount
dusty miller and marigolds
Credit: Tom McWilliam
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dusty miller and marigolds
Dusty Miller

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.

genus name
  • Jacobaea maritima
light
  • Sun
plant type
height
  • 6 to 12 inches
  • 1 to 3 feet
width
  • Up to 2 feet
flower color
foliage color
season features
special features
zones
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
propagation

Colorful Combinations

With its trademark silver foliage, dusty miller looks good in any combination of pantings. The silvery look of the leaves actually comes from numerous tiny white hairs that are most prominent on the undersides of the leaves and on the stems. On older plants, the hairs can actually wear off, and you'll begin to see the green underneath.

A good use for dusty miller is as filler with cut flowers. The bright silver foliage acts as a clean contrast to bright florals, and it's a nice change from your typical green fillers. It's not the longest lasting cut green, but it adds a wonderful elegance to any arrangement. Also try drying dusty miller.

How to Care for Dusty Miller

One of the main reasons that dusty miller has stuck around for so long is that it's so 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 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.

Dusty miller also likes well-drained soil. In soil that's too heavy or too wet, there is a much higher risk that root rot will develop. Once the plants are established, they're very drought-tolerant, which makes them great container plants.

As far as regular maintenance goes, these plants don't require a 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 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 them back to promote a flush of new silver growth late in the season, when plants often become scraggly and leggy.

New Innovations

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.

More Varieties of Dusty Miller

Blazin' Glory Dusty Miller
Credit: Justin Hancock

Blazin' Glory Dusty Miller

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.

Dusty Miller Companion Plants

angelonia summer snapdragon
Credit: David Speer

Angelonia

Angelonia is also called summer snapdragon, and you'll know why, once you get a good look at it. It has salvia-like spires that reach a foot or 2 high and are studded with fascinating snapdragon-like flowers in beautiful shades of purple, white, or pink. It's the perfect plant for adding bright color to hot, sunny spaces. This tough plant blooms all summer long. While all the varieties are beautiful, keep an eye out for the sweetly scented selections. While most gardeners treat angelonia as an annual, it's a tough perennial in Zones 9-10. Or, if you have a bright, sunny spot indoors, you can keep it flowering all winter. It pairs beautifully with dusty miller.

merlin blue morn petunia
Credit: Peter Krumhardt

Petunia

Petunias are failproof favorites for gardeners everywhere and look wonderful next to dusty miller. They are vigorous growers and prolific bloomers from midspring through late fall. Color choices are nearly limitless, with some producing beautiful veining and intriguing hues. Many varieties are sweetly fragrant (sniff the blooms in your 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 ground cover or 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 Ocimum basilicum
Credit: Peter Krumhardt

Basil

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 the 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 strongest taste and aroma. 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
Credit: Marty Baldwin

Tiny Corner Garden Plan

Banish front yard blahs by installing this easy corner-fence garden of fast-growing flowers.

Download this garden plan

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