will dusty miller survive winter?
If you find yourself with a Jacobaea maritima or a Senecio cineraria, you might be confused about their care, but it’s important to realize that these plants are exactly the same. The dusty miller offers unusual silver-colored foliage with a soft felt-like texture. It forms in mounds and requires very little maintenance, so it is a wonderful addition to easy care gardens. The striking leaves provide a good contrast for other flowering plants; the dusty miller does flower itself, but these blooms are considered insignificant in comparison to its beautiful lacy foliage.
There are multiple plants going by the common name of ‘dusty miller,’ and in fact, many plants that have silver-colored foliage have earned this name. The true dusty miller is the Jacobaea maritima (formerly Senecio cineraria), and within this species of the plant there are numerous varieties you can choose from. Several varieties of dusty miller plants have been cultivated by breeders, and these include the following.
This variety of dusty miller plant has a less delicate look than many of its relatives, with less serration on the edge of the foliage, making for a bolder and more defined look. The silver-white foliage of this variety has the soft felt texture associated with dusty miller plants, making it an ideal companion plant for contrasting flowers and foliage.
This variety of dusty miller is lower growing than many other, reaching heights of only up to 1 foot tall. It spreads easily, making it especially useful for ground cover, filling out gaps in flower beds and borders. It also works well in containers and hanging baskets, bringing shocks of unusual foliage color to different areas of the garden. The ‘Cirrus’ variety has an expected lifespan of around ten years if given the proper care.
This is a dainty looking variety of dusty miller, probably appearing as the most elegant of all the dusty miller varieties. It has delicate toothed leaves that are similar to ferns, and give a pretty lacy look. This plant grows to around 8 inches in height, making it suitable for container growing as well as in borders and beds. It not only forms a compact size but also a compact shape, naturally growing into a spherical shape. This plant is deer resistant and enjoys dry soil. It appreciates regular fertilization with a good amount of nitrogen to aid in lush foliar growth.
The silvery foliage of this variety is delicately cut to give an elegant appeal. It has thick stems that grow to around 18 inches in height, reaching maturity at just four months old. This is an incredibly fast-growing plant that responds well to pruning. Cut back the height of the plant to encourage more growth lower down, as this will result in a lush, bushy plant. This plant is cold hardy and can survive well in low temperatures. It is drought-tolerant and works well when planted with other plants that have low water needs. This plant works particularly well in cut flower bouquets, filling out floral displays with unusual foliage.
This award-winning plant has a compact growth habit, reaching heights of between 4 and 8 inches but spreading up to 14 inches wide. It makes the good ground cover but is most commonly used in containers and borders. The silver foliage of the plant is deeply toothed, with a soft wooly texture.
Dusty miller plants are generally low-maintenance and easy-care plants, but this variety is the most easy-care of them all. As long as it is planted in a full sun position and is treated to occasional watering, then it should thrive without any extra attention.
Once the dusty miller plant is well established, it will be tolerant of drought and only need occasional watering. However, young plants should be kept in lightly moist soil to allow them to grow strong. This plant is averse to sitting in wet soil, and so a well-draining soil is essential to prevent root rot.
Amend poorly draining soils before planting your dusty miller by adding sand or grit. A well-draining soil will direct water away from the plant’s roots, offering protection in the event of heavy rain or overwatering. A mature dusty miller plant can survive extended periods without water. However, it is a good idea to offer weekly irrigation throughout summer to keep the plant in the best health.
Dusty miller plants thrive in full sun, though they will tolerate partial shade. If you want the most vibrant silver foliage color, you should ensure your dusty miller plant gets at least 8 hours of sun each day. This plant will survive in low light, but it will be at the cost of the intense silver leaf color.
Dusty miller plants grown in the shade also have a tendency to become leggy, as the stems branch out in search of sunlight. A full-sun position will help the plant to maintain a more attractive compact form. If you must position the plant in partial shade, make sure the shaded time is during the afternoon. This will offer the plant some relief from high temperatures during the hottest time of the day, though generally speaking, the plant tolerates heat well.
Dusty miller plants thrive in a wide range of temperatures, from 40 to 80 °F. The plant is hardy in USDA zones 7 through 10, though it can be grown in cooler zones than this as an annual rather than a perennial. The plant tolerates heat well, but in hot climates, it would benefit from afternoon shade where the temperature will be a few degrees lower (Missouri Botanical Garden).
Dusty millers can be grown from seed or from stem cuttings. To grow from seed, you can sow seeds directly outdoors once the final frost has passed, or sow them inside on a seed tray anywhere between 10 and 15 weeks before the last frost is predicted. To do this, sprinkle the seeds across a moist growing medium and maintain an even temperature of between 65 and 75 °F.
The dusty miller seeds require light in order to germinate, so don’t cover them over with soil and keep them in a bright spot. Germination typically takes between 10 and 15 days. Grow your seedlings inside by maintaining moist soil and transplanting them to larger containers when they are an inch or two in height.
Once the last frost has passed, you can transplant your seedlings outside. They work well as bedding plants in borders and flower beds.
Sowing seeds outside is exactly the same, though the weather must be warm to achieve germination. Thin the seedlings out so that around 18 inches of space separates each one, allowing adequate growing room for the plants to thrive.
Stem cuttings should be taken from the plant in summer if you wish to use this method of propagation. Softwood stems are needed for this, which should have all lower leaves removed before being placed in a moist growing medium and kept in a bright spot. You may also want to cover the cuttings over with a clear plastic bag to create greenhouse conditions to help the stem root.
Once roots have formed, you will notice new leafy growth above the soil. At this point, remove the plastic bag and wait a few more weeks before transplanting the new plant outside.
If your dusty miller gets leggy, then you should prune it to encourage more bushy growth. Cut it down to around half its height, and it will respond with more growth lower down, which will help the plant to fill out and become denser and lusher looking.
above mentioned.. last years harsh winter ... and many things .. zone appropriate for my z5 ... were damaged or lost.. when she threw a z4 winter at me ... its all about me ... lol ...
but what she did do ... unlike the last few moderate winters... she packed us with 3 feet of snow ... and snow is her best insulator.. down under such ....
most of my damage ... besides outright death.. was above snow cover ... and the darn rabbits doubled her insults ...
what snow does... is removed winter sun .... which regardless of air temps.. can thaw frozen tissue... repeatedly over the winter ... and that usually is not good ...
and snow also removes all winter wind ... which refreezes that tissue the sun melted ...
so after all that... you are left with how tender the roots are.. on any given plant ... and whether.. regardless of all the above... will the roots survive ...
one trick.. if you want to try to push zone.. is to plant immediately on the foundation... especially if you have a furnace in a basement.. and the side of the house with the chimney ... the soil will stay much more temperate ...
all and all ... its all about micro climate ... in your garden ... no one can really tell you odds... but of course.. we have fun theorizing about it ....
and do understand.. just because you win or fail ... there are no odds.. your luck ... will be repeated ... because you are rolling the dice.. on the wicked witch of the north .... on a yearly basis .... and good luck with that ...
Although dusty miller is an old-fashioned plant that has been around garden centers for decades, this plant's drought tolerance and pest-free nature make it worth revisiting for busy gardeners who want to add dazzle without fuss to their landscapes.
Dusty miller is one of those plants that is full of surprises. It sometimes survives the winter in zones colder than its usual hardiness zones. Gardeners report plants coming back in zone 5 or even zone 4 landscapes. Another surprise is that dusty miller's yellow flowers may appear in its second growing season. It is not marketed as a blooming plant, and while not all plants will produce yellow fuzzy flowers, they increase the beauty of mature plants.
Dusty miller needs full sun to stay compact and keep their fabulous foliage color. Plants growing in the shade are leggy and produce fewer hairs, which give them their silvery color.
Dusty miller plants adapt to various soils, but good drainage is key for healthy plants. Whether your soil is on the rocky side or is characterized by clay, you can improve your pH (it prefers a range of 5.5 to 6.0) and drainage by amending it with compost.
The fuzzy growth that gives dusty miller its sheen also helps plants stand tall in periods of drought. Like other plants that hail from Mediterranean climates, dusty miller can get by with occasional watering once it is established. A layer of organic mulch will make plants even less dependent on supplemental irrigation. One inch of water per week keeps dusty miller growing strong. It does not like soggy conditions.
As a Mediterranean plant, dusty miller thrives in hot, sunny climates. Excessive humidity isn't a problem if plants have adequate spacing and a position in full sun.
Dusty miller plants are light feeders and only need supplemental fertilizers in areas with poor soil. In this case, it's better to feed and improve the soil at the same time by adding organic matter like well-rotted manure or leaf mold.
Fill your garden beds with dusty miller by starting a flat of seeds six weeks before your average last frost date. Cover seeds lightly with sterile potting mix, and grow at 70 degrees Fahrenheit. You will start to see germination in about 10 days. After last frost date, take the seedlings outside to begin hardening off process.
If planting nursery starts, wait until after danger of frost has passed in your area before putting dusty miller in a sunny spot in the garden. Plant outdoors 8 inches apart in pots or 10 inches apart in the ground.
The difference between dusty miller cultivars can be seen in how dissected the foliage is. Some varieties are lacy and delicate, while others are slightly lobed.
Dusty miller's felted, silvery leaves are a perfect combo with colorful, long-blooming trailing stems of petunias or million bells. Also, purple and silver is another color mix that pleases the eye, so think about snapdragons, lavender, or pansies as another suitable companion for dusty miller. It also makes a handsome companion plant for other sun lovers like zinnias, pentas, or salvia.
Ornamental grasses look attractive with dusty miller, providing a different texture to the garden. In contrast, basil mixed with dusty miller brings pollinators, might keep other bugs away, and gives your garden a pleasant scent.
Dusty miller plants require no pruning to maintain their pleasing bushy shape. If the yellow blooms detract from your plant's appearance, shear them off as they appear.
You can propagate dusty miller by cuttings in the spring when plants are putting out the most rapid new growth.
Dusty miller looks fantastic in all kinds of containers, including hanging baskets and window boxes. Keep your dusty miller container in full sun and water more frequently than plants growing in the ground, at least every other day in summer. Pot up dusty miller with any commercial potting soil. Make sure your container has drainage holes. Add a handful of peat moss to increase acidity. A layer of mulch on the soil will retain water and keep the soil from splashing onto the leaves. When you see roots coming out of the drainage hole, it's time to repot.
Dusty miller is tolerant of cold weather within its hardiness range, but you can reduce watering in the late summer to ready it for winter. Prune it back with sharp, sterile shears to just above ground level and mulch with pine needles or straw.
Slugs enjoy snacking on dusty miller plants, especially in flowerbeds that receive frequent irrigation. Handpick the pests, or use beer traps to control their numbers.
In addition to attracting slugs, excessive watering can cause root rot in dusty miller plants. This is more of a problem in clay soils. In areas with heavy soil, you can prevent it by growing your dusty miller plants in containers or raised beds.
Dusty miller tolerates light frost with ease, but can be damaged by hard freezes. Where winters are mild, dusty miller can be grown as a winter annual or short-lived perennial.
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