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A relative newcomer to North America’s horticultural scene, ptilotus bears spectacular spires of fat, feathery silver-pink flowers. This plant’s thick, silver-green foliage is also quite ornamental. Try ptilotus in a container as a specimen plant, or grow it in large groups for a truly stunning display of bottlebrush-type blossoms. This plant can also be cut and dried for arrangements.
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With spires of silvery-pink blooms, ptilotus is a wonderful accent plant that also acts as a stunning specimen. While the blooms look soft and fuzzy, they are actually hard and bristly, and last for quite some time. Outside of the garden, these plants can be cut and dried for arrangements. Because of their stiff habit, the blooms hold up well, and make a great exotic, dried flower. The foliage itself is also very ornamental; it is thick and fleshy and comes in a lovely silvery-green color.
Native to the arid plains of Australia, ptilotus is a plant that needs full sun and well-drained soil to thrive. Amend garden soil to the ideal growing conditions (e.g. sandy soil) before planting, or place this annual in a container filled with well-drained soil that dries out thoroughly between watering.
A low-maintenance plant, ptilotus thrives in lean soil and doesn't need any additional fertilization. It is prone to root rot, an often-fatal problem that is hard to cure. Visit your local gardening center to get a fungicide designed to fight fungal pathogens within the soil. Follow the manufacturer's directions carefully. (Pots that have held soil contaminated with root rot fungus should be soaked in bleach before reusing to make sure spores do not survive.) Ptilotus flowers tend to look a little ragged as they get older. Deadhead spent-looking blossoms to encourage a new flush of growth.
In its native habitat, ptilotus tends to grow large and weedy-looking. Breeders have created compact varieties for use in containers and gardens.