February 18, 2016

Ptilotus

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.

genus name
  • Ptilotus exaltatus
light
  • Sun
plant type
height
  • 1 to 3 feet
width
  • 1 to 2 feet wide
flower color
foliage color
problem solvers
zones
  • 2,
  • 3,
  • 4,
  • 5,
  • 6,
  • 7,
  • 8,
  • 9,
  • 10,
  • 11
propagation

Colorful Combinations

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.

Ptilotus Care

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.

New Innovations

In its native habitat, ptilotus tends to grow large and weedy-looking. Breeders have created compact varieties for use in containers and gardens.

Plant Ptilotus With:

Angelonia is also called summer snapdragon, and once you get a good look at it, you'll know why. It has salvia-like flower spires that reach a foot or 2 high, but 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.

If you love morning glories, try this low-growing cousin, which has even more gorgeous sky blue flowers. Like the morning glory that grows upward, this more earthbound beauty produces striking blue flowers all season long. And like its cousin, the flowers tend to close in the afternoon hours. In Zones 8-11, in the warmest part of the country, this tropical is a perennial; farther north, it's grown as an annual. Its spreading habit is perfect for spilling over baskets, window boxes, and other containers.Plant established plants outdoors after all danger of frost has passed. Evolvulus likes rich, well-drained soil and needs just average water. It's somewhat drought-tolerant, so don't overwater.

With its intricate flowers and fine-texture foliage, nigella stands out in the garden. This delightful little annual blooms throughout the summer, and the seedpods are often used in dried-flower crafts. Nigella does best in full sun and well-drained soil. It often reseeds.


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