How to Care for Dusty Miller

Dusty Miller lasts from spring through fall with proper care. image by kinez/Flickr.com

Overview

Dusty miller is a perennial flowering plant native to the Mediterranean, although it is typically grown as an annual in the United States. Its botanical name is Senecio cineraria. Dusty miller cannot tolerate heavy frosts and cold winters, but it may survive all year in very warm climates. The plant is valued for its attractive silver-green foliage, which may be lacy, deeply cut or ruffled in appearance. Dusty miller is often used in edging borders, flowerbeds and containers, and is available in garden centers across the country. It will provide beautiful foliage from spring through late fall with proper care and maintenance.

Step 1

Plant dusty miller in a sunny to partly shaded location of the garden after all danger of frost has passed. Full sun is recommended, as the plant will become lanky and lose its compact growth habit in the shade. It may tolerate very light shade more readily in extremely warm climates.

Step 2

Space dusty miller plants about 6 inches apart in dry, well-drained soil. Plant in holes about the same width and depth as the container in which they were previously growing. Cover the root balls lightly with soil, and then water thoroughly to compact.

Step 3

Water dusty miller only when the soil is completely dry and the plant appears to be wilting--usually about once per week. Drench the soil thoroughly and allow it to dry out again. In very dry climates or when the temperature climbs above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, watering twice per week may be necessary.

Step 4

Feed dusty miller plants using a water-soluble 1-2-2 flower fertilizer once in spring, at least two weeks after planting. Apply a second dose in late summer for the best results. Refer to the manufacturer's instructions for proper dosage and application.

Step 5

Thin dusty miller plants in the garden bed to one plant every 24 inches to prevent crowding and competition for nutrients in the soil. Pinch off flowers to promote attractive, bushy growth and prevent legginess. Remove any damaged leaves as necessary.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't wait too long in between watering dusty miller or the plant may die. Water thoroughly at the first sign of wilting for the best results. Always avoid overwatering, as the plant is not tolerant of consistently moist soil and may develop root rot.

Things You'll Need

  • Flower fertilizer

References

  • Cornell University Flower Growing Guides: Dusty Miller
  • Book: Illinois Gardener's Guide; James A. Fizzell; 2002
  • Book: The Carolinas Gardener's Guide; Toby Bost, Jim Wilson; 2005
Keywords: dusty miller, dusty miller plants, Senecio cineraria

About this Author

Willow Sidhe is a freelance writer living in the beautiful Hot Springs, AR. She is a certified aromatherapist with a background in herbalism. She has extensive experience gardening, with a specialty in indoor plants and herbs. Sidhe's work has been published on numerous Web sites, including Gardenguides.com.

Photo by: kinez/Flickr.com