Dusty miller is beautiful silver foliage with small yellow blooms and is often used as a background plant for low growing plants. Its unique silvery color and texture makes it an attractive companion plant for many flowers in the garden and an exciting addition to your landscape. The most silvery and furry plant, dusty miller, helps your landscape remain attractive through the summer heat and tolerate winter frost. Its drought tolerance and adaptability, it can survive during the hottest months of summer and make it an excellent plant for an xeriscape garden.
Dusty miller is a great companion plant for colorful plants such as zinnias, pentas, or salvia or can be planted alone as a border. This plant is not only a beautiful, long-lasting addition to your garden, but dusty miller care and maintenance are super easy. When it is grown in USDA hardiness zone 7-10, it is often grown as herbaceous perennial. But in certain locations, it can be grown as an annual.
Silver ragwort, Dusty miller
Hardy annual, Perennial
6 to 18 inches
7 to 10
Toxic to human and pets
Botanical Name: Jacobaea Maritima
Common Name: Silver ragwort, Dusty miller
Type: Hardy annual, Perennial
Mature Size: 6 to 18 inches
Sun Requirement: Full sun
Planting Zones: 7 to 10
Toxicity: Toxic to human and pets
Dusty Miller Growing and Care Guide
Dusty miller grows best in full sunlight, so it remains compact. When grown in the shade, they become leggy and create fewer hairs, which give them their silvery color. When grown in hotter zones, dusty miller appreciates afternoon shades, especially during the hottest months of summer.
Dusty miller plants are adaptable to various soils but thrive in acidic clay to sandy loam, well-drained soil. If you use soil that is rocky or clay-like medium, you can improve both the pH level and drainage by improving it with compost. Remember, dusty miller plants must be grown in well-drained soil to prevent root rot.
Dusty miller requires watering regularly after planting, but once the root has developed and the plant is growing, you can withhold water. The fuzzy soft hair provides a dusty miller its silvery color and helps the plant stand tall during drought.
And like other native plants from Mediterranean climates, just one inch of watering weekly is enough to keep dusty miller growing strong. By adding a layer of organic mulch, the dusty miller plant will need even less watering.
Temperature and Humidity
Dusty miller does well in hot and sunny climates. Excessive humidity is not a problem as long as plants have sufficient spacing and in direct sun.
Dusty miller plants are not heavy feeders and only need fertilizer in places with poor soil conditions. If this is the case, feed and enhance the dirt with organic matter like manure or even leaf mold all at the same time.
Potting and Repotting
You can pot dusty miller with any type of potting soil. And you can add a few peat mosses to improve soil acidity. Adding a mulch layer on the soil will help retain water and keep soil from splashing on the leaves. When roots are coming out of the drainage, you know it is time to repot your dusty miller plant.
Propagating Dusty Miller
Dusty miller can be propagated through cuttings during the growing season or springtime when plants set out the fastest new growth. Cut a 6-inch stem, and strip the leaves in the foundation. Dip the cutting in rooting hormone, and then add to moist potting soil. Remember to keep it warm and moist until new growth and leaves kick in, then plant it at the desired location.
Dusty miller can be unsafe for people to use. Any ingestion or using it as medicine may cause adverse reactions because it contains a chemical called hepatotoxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids. This plant's sap may also lead to a rash, and applying dusty miller on broken skin can be toxic.
Dusty miller plants are low maintenance and don't need pruning unless the plant becomes leggy, then it can use a trim. If the small yellow flowers detract from the plants, you can shear off them as they appear. If you wish the plant to self-seed, leave a few flowers to bloom.
Growing Dusty Miller in Container
Dusty miller can be grown in all sorts of containers and looks fantastic. The finely divided furry foliage looks beautiful paired with all the observation stems of petunias or million bells and makes a great companion plant to additional sun fans like pentas, zinnias, or salvia. Place your planters in an area that gets full sun and water at least every other day in summer for the ones growing in the ground.
Growing from Seeds
Growing dusty miller from seed is easy. Place your dusty miller seeds in your container or flower beds at least six weeks before the last frost. You should begin to see germination in about ten days. If planted outside, place 8 inches apart in containers or 10 inches apart from the floor.
Watch out for slugs in flower beds that receive frequent watering as they enjoy snacking dusty miller crops. To get rid of them, physically remove pests off the plant, or utilize beer traps. Along with slugs, frequent watering dusty miller plants can lead to root rot. This is much more of an issue in clay soils. But you can prevent this by growing your dusty millers in an area with heavy soil and in containers or raised beds.
Dusty miller's silver lace leaves are resistant to deer, making the plant an excellent choice for areas where grazing wildlife may be an issue in the landscape.
Varieties of Dusty Miller
One way to identify the varieties of the dusty miller is through how dissected the foliage is. Certain varieties are extremely lacy and fine, while others are slightly lobed. Here are three common varieties:
'Cirrus' has broad leaves with scalloping on the edges and emerge white in spring and then turn silver throughout the season. It features small clusters of yellow daisy flowers from early to late summer. Relatively low maintenance plant that does not need pruning.
'Silverado' has got neat and compact fern-like foliage, and it is very popular in many gardens. Ideal for containers and edges because they will grow 10 to 12 inches tall and wide. The tiny yellow flowers will emerge in spring and summer.
'Silver Lace' has very fine foliage that remains silver in color throughout the season. No flowers nor fruit are ornamentally significant.