Pearly everlasting is an underappreciated North American native perennial that deserves to be planted more often in gardens and landscapes. This easy-care perennial features lance-shape gray-green foliage that forms an attractive mound from spring all the way to autumn. Its long-lasting white flowers dry well, making them perfect for crafts projects. And because pearly everlasting attracts butterflies, it makes a great choice for butterfly and pollinator gardens. Pearly everlasting is fantastic in the middle or back of a border for its minimal care needs and fine texture.
Pearly Everlasting Care
Grow pearly everlasting in hot, sunny spots where it gets at least six hours of direct sun each day for best blooms and garden performance. It will tolerate partial shade but will bloom less and exhibit a tendency to flop over instead of maintaining its mounding habit.
Because pearly everlasting is native to poor, dry soils, it tolerates droughts and nutrient-deficient soil. That said, like most perennials, pearly everlasting grows and does best when watered regularly—especially during periods of drought or unseasonably hot weather. It also requires regular watering the first year after planting to help it get established in the garden and develop a strong root system.
Because it spreads by underground stems, pearly everlasting can be a bit of a thug in the garden and behave invasively if you water regularly and fertilize abundantly. Consider where you'll plant it and what its care regimen will be before adding it to your yard.
A low-maintenance perennial, pearly everlasting doesn't require much pruning. After it freezes in fall, you can cut it back to 3 or 4 inches tall or leave it standing for a little winter interest. Give it a trim in spring as new growth resumes. In fact, many gardeners find leaving the stems standing in winter and cutting them in early spring helps protect the newly emerging growth from hungry deer and rabbits.
Pearly Everlasting Uses
This perennial is a natural choice for native-plant gardens, and it thrives alongside other sun-loving natives, including false indigo (Baptisia), butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), coreopsis (Coreopsis), liatris (Listris), garden phlox (Phlox paniculata), ironweed (Vernonia), and purple coneflower (Echinacea). Because of its spreading nature, pearly everlasting is more effective in informal and cottage-type gardens than formal ones.
You should also consider pearly everlasting for your butterfly or pollinator garden. Many species of pollinators love its flowers, and it acts as a host plant for painted lady butterflies. In fact, planting host plants (the plants caterpillars eat) is a more effective strategy for attracting butterflies than planting flowers that produce a lot of nectar.
Add pearly everlasting to your cutting garden, too. Its flowers last surprisingly long when cut for bouquets. If you prefer to use them for dried-floral crafts (such as wreaths and swags), hang the flowers upside down in a warm, dry place for a couple of weeks to dry. You can also use the dried flowers for decorative potpourri.
More Varieties Of Pearly Everlasting
Anaphalis margaritacea yedoensis has larger flowers than the wild form and may be slightly hardier.
Plant Pearly Everlasting With:
Bear's britches is grown for its glossy, large-leaved foliage that can appear jagged or spiny. This plant spikes tall geometric flowers with white petals and prickly purple bracts late spring into early summer.
Both pearly everlasting and penstemon do well in hot, dry spots and require little attention once established in the garden. Both are also excellent choices for attracting butterflies to the garden. Penstemon offers an eye-catching vertical shape thanks to its flower spikes, creating an attractive contrast to pearly everlasting's more mounded form.
Easy and undemanding, veronica catches the eye in sunny gardens for many months. Some varieties have mats with loose clusters of saucer-shape flowers, while others group their star-shape or tubular flowers into tight erect spikes. A few veronica types bring elusive blue to the garden, but more often the flowers are purple or violet blue, rosy pink, or white.