Dusty miller is a common landscape plant usually situated in flower gardens. The foliage is white to silver and gives good contrast to the colored flowers in a flower bed. Dusty miller is easy to grow and can be included in any garden or in containers.
The scientific name of the plant is Senecio cineraria. The origin of the plant is in the arid regions of the Mediterranean.
Dusty miller grows about 10 inches tall but some varieties will reach 18 inches. The lacy foliage is silver white to gray or gray-green with a woolly texture. Some think the foliage appears to glow in the moonlight. Dusty miller will bloom in its second year when grown as an annual, but the flowers are insignificant. They grow in pale yellow clusters.
Well-drained soil is a must for dusty miller. It thrives in sandy or rocky soils and does not require rich loamy soil but will adapt to it. It is a truly adaptable plant and will grow in just about any pH percentage in any soil.
Dusty miller grows best in full sun but will tolerate partial shade. It enjoys 5 to 8 hours of sun per day. In shady gardens, it may turn more gray-green than white or silver and will not reach its full height.
Once established, dusty miller is drought tolerant. Too much water and humidity may cause problems like rust or root and stem rot. The soil should dry out around the plant before you provide supplemental water.
Plant seeds indoors about five weeks before the last expected frost. The seeds will take about three weeks to germinate. You can purchase dusty miller transplants and plant them during the growing season. The plant is an annual in cold climates but has been known to come back after a mild winter if left in the ground. In warmer climates, it is considered a perennial. The plant will grow from a 3-inch cutting that has been scraped on the lower inch and placed in potting soil. Water the cutting every other day or so, and a new plant will sprout in about three weeks. Dusty miller should be trimmed to keep its shape and the proper height.
Dusty miller is a good plant to create borders in a garden but can also be used as an individual plant. It is the star of the show in a moonlight themed garden. It stands up to being cut and is often included in fresh flower arrangements. The plant air dries well and can be used in dry arrangements or as an ornamental component in potpourri. It keeps its silver color even when dry.