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The Dusty Miller Plant is The One for all your garden design ideas. Not only has it all the dream attributes of hardiness, heat resistance and drought tolerance, but you can begin your garden with just this one plant. Any colour scheme you can think of goes with this gem of the gardening world. The main role of this plant is to show off all the others. And it does that rather well.
If you look at the leaves, you can see that they are actually very similar to those of the daisy, although a lot narrower. That's because they do, in fact, belong to the same family - Asteraceae. Don't worry if you come across several different kinds if you are choosing one, because there are several and it can get very confusing.
Well known for its versatility and endurance, this gorgeous plant will go with any colour garden scheme. It is heat and drought tolerant, it is deer resistant and looks absolutely fantastic when placed in almost any type of garden. It will grow as an annual in cold climates and as a perennial in warmer zones.
It will grow in full sun and even part shade. It is toxic if eaten so be careful of pets - not that they'd want to eat it. But the Deer just know it's poisonous as with so many other plants, so they avoid it. Because Dusty Miller shows off other flowers so well, it is often called a companion plant. My favourite colour scheme for plants which look best with Dusty Miller is pink, purple and maybe some white, but in the photo above it looks perfect with yellow too!
Its correct Botanical name is Senecio cineraria, but having said that, there are other types which I think were deliberately put there to confuse us. However, in this group, the three most popular varieties are:
'Silver Lace' which has very finely cut leaves and grows from 6" to 10" in height.
'Silver Dust' which also has fine leaves, but this one grows from about 12" to 18". This one is ideal in the centre or back of the garden.
'Cirrus' whose leaves are slightly broader, grows from 6" to 10". These two small ones are the ones you will see used as bedding and border and even rockery plants, and of course they are perfect for containers.
Being a member of the Daisy family, Dusty Miller has flowers. You may not notice them in photographs, but they are there in the summer. It's just that they are small. And they don't flower until their second year. The most common colour is yellow, but there are also those with pale pink and rose, lavender and even a blue.
Some kinds have larger flowers which gardeners grow because of them, but as companion plants, the flowers are not really noticeable or gardeners may even pick them off. The pink one is called 'Rose Campion' and is very beautiful, but it actually belongs to the Carnation family. Because carnations have the silvery grey leaves, some are often called Dusty Miller.
Stunning as a border, hardy and resilient, Dusty Miller doesn't need much attention. All it asks for is some well-drained soil and enough room to spread its leaves which grow as wide as its height. Compost-rich mulch is always a good idea for most plants, but slow release fertilizer will do every now and then. The only maintenance it needs is pinching off any brown, dead bits, especially at the bottom where this can cause rotting, and any flowers you don't want to show up.
If you are planting a border, space plants about 6" apart - more, rather than less. They will only need watering when necessary - when the soil dries out, because they are drought tolerant and they certainly don't like wet feet. Portulacas are also drought tolerant plants.
There's even a recent addition to the Dusty Miller family: Senecio cephalophorus. This is a spectacular type which has broader silvery leaves, but in summer it has gorgeous bright red flowers. It's called 'Blazin' Glory'. If you want a particular type, find out what it is exactly that you want online and take the picture to the nursery with you. Because labels don't always have the correct Botanical name and the pictures certainly aren't always that accurate, especially with so many types of different plants called 'Dusty Miller'. At least, find out all you can first!
Another Broad-Leaved Type.
Lychnis coronaria, Rose Campion. Also known as Dusty Miller because of its silver-grey foliage.