Plants have several different ways to adapt to heat and drought. A coating of white hairs on their leaves reflects sunlight to reduce evaporation and help conserve the water lost during photosynthesis. This gives the plants an appearance that ranges from pure white to silver or grey and in some cases their foliage is even more ornamental than their flowers.
As I mentioned yesterday I lost my silver leaved Athanasia pinnata but other silver plants in my garden have faired much better.
Calocephalus brownii (syn Leucophyta brownii) looks like it is made of some sort of futuristic white plastic. It is the perfect foil for plants like Santolina and lavenders and so far has been almost care free in my garden. It can get a bit scraggly as it ages though so may need cutting back this winter.
Verbascum bombyciferum is showing no signs that it is going to bloom this year but just look at these felty, white, architectural leaves! I almost don’t want it to bloom even though the tall spires of yellow flowers are magnificent too.
Claire Woods from Annie’s Annuals describes the Lupinus pilosus as “heartbreakingly beautiful”. With a description like that I just had to have one so I put it on my wish list and ordered it the moment it became available. The first deep blue flower is just opening but the fuzzy silver leaves are lovely too. Hopefully I’ll be able to collect some seed.
Plecostachys serpyllifolia may not be the flashiest plant but it is a nice mounding silver ground cover for a dry garden. It seems like it would make a really nice container plant too.
Maireana sedifolia has really juicy silver leaves. They are a bit unnatural looking. Long lasting in a vase so could make a really unusual accent for cut flowers.
Santolina chamaecyparisis ‘Nana’ is one of several Santolina species in my garden. It will eventually have deep yellow flowers but it is a nice foliage plant too.
Helichrysum thianschanicum has leaves that are almost pure white. I’m kind of curious about the flowers. If they are cute I will let it bloom but if not I’ll cut it way back.
Berkheya purpurea is getting ready to bloom! The spines on its leaves are rather unpleasant to work with but help contribute to its unusual appearance.
What do you all do with your Salvia argentea? Do you let them bloom? Cut them back right as the last flowers fade or before they even start to open? Or just let them go to seed in the hopes that you will get babies next year? I just cut back one that flowered. Kind of wondering if it will survive.
Craspedia globosa is one of those plants that never looks that great in nursery containers. Even at wholesale prices I just wasn’t willing to spend money on gallon plants that are so ugly. Luckily it is available here in six packs at a few retail nurseries. At three bucks for a six pack that works out to fifty cents a plant. You can’t go wrong for that sort of price! They sulked quite a bit and needed almost daily watering while they were getting established but now they seem to be settled. I can’t wait for the little yellow globe flowers. If only the foliage always looked as nice as this one is looking at the moment.
Sideritis cypria looks a bit like an upright lambs ears until it starts to bloom. Just look at those beautiful fluorescent green bracts.
I’ve added a few succulents to the large mixed border, including this Dudleya pulverulenta, a California native. Instead of white hairs it is covered with chalky white wax.
Even though the flowers are spent on this Lavandula stoechas ‘Silver Anouk’ the silver foliage continues to be an attractive feature.
Teucrium ackermanii is supposed to be a bit tricky because it needs perfect drainage. That is pretty easy to provide in my sandy soil so hopefully it will thrive here.
I’ve mentioned before that Artemisias are new to me. I never had luck with them in the heat and humidity of the east coast. So far I am pretty impressed with all five of the varieties I am trying out in my garden. The one above is Artemisia frigida. I could cut back these feathery flowering wands but they look pretty cool right now so I’ll leave them unless they start to look ratty.
Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ is very robust. Quickly reaching two feet across from a four inch pot.
I think Artemisia versicolor ‘Sea Foam’ is my favorite. Look at the beautiful pale purple and mint green tints to the feathery silver leaves.
I’ve been warned that Artemisia ludoviciana ‘Valerie Finnis’ is a bit of a thug. It is already showing signs of this with several runners forming around the base of the plant. A very attractive plant though so I think I will put up with it for now. It can’t get into too much trouble in the spot where I have it.
The last time I posted a picture of Artemisia pycnocephala ‘David’s Choice’ I mentioned how weird looking the flowers are. I snipped them all off and am left with this cute little silvery mound.
Believe it or not under all those flowers Tanacetum niveum has beautiful silvery foliage. I am a sucker for any kind of daisy flower so I am loving this impressive mound three feet across.
Lotus berthelotii is not as drought tolerant as you might be lead to believe with its somewhat succulent looking silver foliage. At least until it is established it seems to want fairly rich soil and regular water. I have some in worse soil but they are not exactly thriving and if they dry out they look particularly sad. But they make a great container plant or ground cover. We used some in a Morro Bay garden where they are on drip and receive regular water and they are gorgeous.
So what are your favorite silver leaved plants? Am I missing any that are “must haves”? Let me know in the comments section below.