The scientific name for Dusty Miller is Jacobaea maritima, and most dusty miller varieties are native to the Mediterranean region. They fall into the Asteraceae family, and this plant typically gets grown for the ornamental foliage. They are very popular landscaping plants, and they can easily make your gardens look stunning. If you want to learn about the seven main dusty miller varieties and how to grow them with their features, read on.
Dusty miller is a very popular silvery-hued plant that works well as a low-growing border perennial that can contrast nicely with brighter colors.
Dusty Miller Variety Facts
Dusty miller is a shrubby, ornamental plant that is native to the Mediterranean. This plant is easy to identify due to the lobed, silvery leaves that have yellow flowers and very fine hairs. As this plant matures, the fuzzy stems turn woody and stiff.
Dusty miller will thrive in zones 7 to 10, and it’s a drought-tolerant plant that grows in warm climates as a tender perennial. In colder climates, you can grow dusty miller varieties as an annual bedding plant. Although it’s not extremely cold-hardy, it can tolerate light frost without dying. Annual dusty miller cultivars will rarely get over a foot tall.
Dusty miller has the botanical name of Senecio cineraria, and it belongs to the Asteraceae family. However, a lot of botanists now classify dusty miller varieties as Jacobaea maritima. Along with the common name of dusty miller, this fuzzy shrub is also called silver dust, silver ragwort, and maritime ragwort.
Plant Features for Dusty Miller Varieties
This plant can grow up to three feet high at full maturity. It has grayish-silver foliage and the leaf texture can be very lacy. The leaves are covered with a very fine matted hair that gives the plant a silvery look. When the plant gets wet, the green coloring gets a lot more visible, and it peeps through the silver hue. The leaves are two to six inches long, and they are alternately arranged on the plant’s stem.
The flowers the dusty miller plant produces are yellow in color, and they grow to full bloom during midsummer, which is the normal blooming season. Once the flowers are fully grown, they are extremely showy. This plant is very drought-resistant, so it’ll stay fresh throughout the summer heat to give your garden a very bright and colorful look. This is a tender perennial that can tolerate frost very well, and it’s hardy in zones 7 to 10. This is a very low-maintenance plant that works well for cut flowers or in containers.
Dusty miller is a flowering shrub that produces large clusters of daisy-like, small, yellow flowers. Dusty miller varieties produce golden yellow flowers that typically appear on the plants during the first year. However, the flower clusters on the plant are relatively insignificant, and most gardeners remove the flowers to encourage foliage growth. The flower heads grow between one and three inches across.
The striking feature of any dusty miller variety are the unusual silvery leaves that are covered in fine hairs. Dusty miller silver wooly leaves are lance-shaped, and they have deep scalloping or lobes on the margins, and this is very typical of ragwort plants. The leaves grow between three and six inches long and three inches wide.
The silver, soft, fuzzy leaves help the plant retain moisture and make the shrub very tolerant of the summer heat. The felted look of this plant disappears when the foliage gets wet. Also, the leaves may lose the silvery appearance when you grow them in the shade instead of in the sun.
This is a very low-maintenance plant that doesn’t need a lot from you to be happy and thrive, and this makes it a great choice for busy gardeners.
Seven Dusty Miller Varieties
Dusty miller is a very reliable foliage plant that works well in perennial borders. It’s usually grown more for the felted gray leaves and tidy form over the flowers, and it offers a muted contrast for the bold colors that your flowerbed often displays by the middle of summer. There are seven common dusty miller varieties available, and we’ll touch on them below.
This dusty miller variety is characterized by round and large silvery leaves. It can resist harsh weather conditions without a problem. This plant can lend a very contrasting and colorful effect to any flowerbed or garden, and it is also called Centaurea Cineraria. The flowers are yellow in color and button-shaped, and it’s an annual plant that grows up to a foot high at full maturity.
It can get up to two feet wide under the correct conditions, and it’s a showy, mound-forming plant that can tolerate coastal conditions and deer. It blooms early in the summer months until late in the summer, and it’s hardy in zones seven to nine. You’ll need to put it in full sun to get the ideal growth out of the plant, and the soil should be either loam or clay-based and have a pH level of 5.5 to 7.5. It also has average water requirements.
This dusty miller variety offers an upright growth habit, and it’s a low-maintenance option that doesn’t require you to prune it. It works well when you put it in a mass planting, general garden use, border edging, container plantings, or in hanging baskets. It has a medium growth rate, and when you grow this dusty miller variety, you should space the individual plants 16 inches apart to ensure they have enough space to grow and thrive. Also, proper air circulation will improve the plant’s growth, and it will live to be roughly 10 years old.
2. New Look
This dusty miller variety is very productive, and the leaves are very full. It features thick and tall stems with silver-edged leaves. The more you pick this plant, the more it grows. It’s a very fast-growing plant that is ready to harvest in four months, and it’s a perennial that grows between 12 and 18 inches. You’ll need full sun to get the ideal growth habit, and you should space it between 9 and 12 inches apart to ensure the best air circulation possible.
This plant takes between 90 and 120 days to mature. To grow this dusty miller variety, the seeds should be sown roughly 10 to 12 weeks before the last frost date of the spring. It is recommended that you water the plant at the bottom so that the roots get enough water without drenching the foliage. The seedlings won’t have a very strong silvery hue to them, and the color will show much more as the plant matures. It is hardy in zones 8 to 10, and this plant has smaller flowers in a bright yellow color. However, these plants are very easy to identify due to the fact that they grow mainly for the foliage color.
This plant works wonderfully in a fresh-cut flower display or in a container planting. This plant should get watered twice a week for the first six weeks. Once you hit this point, it requires a lower amount of water. You won’t have to fertilize except to add a time-release fertilizer when you plant them. These plants are also very cold-hardy.
As a member of the Senecio family, this dusty miller variety has a scientific name of Senecio cineraria Ramparts. This is a very low-maintenance plant that is a lot easier to grow than some other dusty miller varieties. Basic care should be common sense to ensure that this plant grows healthy. It needs moist but well-drained soil and full sun to encourage the strongest growth.
4. Silver Filigree
Also called silver cascade dusty miller, this dusty miller variety is hardy in zones 5 to 10. It will get from four to eight inches tall and spread 12 to 14 inches. It requires full sun to grow strong, and you should give it more than six hours of sunlight if possible. The foliage has a silver hue to it.
This short perennial is very easy to grow and maintain, and it requires an average amount of water to thrive. It’s best to plant it in landscapes and containers. You should prune this plant regularly since they can look undesirable after they bloom. Pruning can help to keep the plant looking much healthier for longer periods, and it’s an award-winning plant.
5. Silver Lace
This is the most delicate dusty miller variety on the list. It’s a very compact plant that is excellent in edging, borders, and pots. It has a very slow growth rate and it requires full sun to grow best. It can get up to seven inches high and it can spread up to eight inches. This is an annual plant that is hardy in zones three to eight.
A few other names for this dusty miller variety includes Sage, Beach Wormwood, and Mugwort. It has pretty fern-like foliage with a lovely texture, and it’s resistant to deer. For this plant to grow healthy, it likes dry soil, and it’s a variety that is known for the foliage. The flowers and fruit aren’t ornamentally significant, and it has an upright growth habit. It requires regular maintenance to keep it healthy and looking tidy. You can clean it up early in the spring so that it can grow during the spring and summer months. It works well as a ground cover, in mass plantings, or for general garden use.
This plant looks great planted next to Gayfeather, Garden Phlox, and Coneflower. This plant requires regular fertilizer application, and it can grow in any spot because it tolerates heat well. Pruning is a must for this dusty miller variety since the size and shape has to be maintained. The flowers aren’t very showy, and you want to remove the old flowers so that your plant looks healthy and has enough energy to ensure that your foliage grows thick and dense.
The scientific name for this dusty miller variety is Senecio cineraria. It grows in a mounded habit and gets up to 10 inches tall and 10 inches wide at full maturity. Other common names for this plant is Silver Ragwort or syn Jacobaea. The leaves on this plant are slightly finer than other dusty miller varieties, and they have a more silver hue. The leaves have a snowflake shape to them, and you keep this variety for the foliage. It’s a great plant to trim the stems to help promote new growth.
This low maintenance dusty miller variety can tolerate drought conditions very well, and it requires full sun exposure to stay healthy. The soil should drain well and have average moisture levels. You should take special care to ensure that there is no standing water around this dusty miller variety or the plant can die from rot. This plant is hardy in zones 6 to 10, and the plug crop trim is four to five weeks while taking seven to eight weeks for a transplant to be ready to go.
This variety works well for boarders, beds, and container gardens. It requires temperatures between 70 and 75 degrees to thrive, and you should leave roughly eight inches of space between each plant to help ensure that there is enough space for the root system to grow. This is a select dusty miller variety that isn’t native to North America, but it’s a highly drought-tolerant plant that works best in low-water gardens.
7. White Diamond
This variety belongs to the Asteraceae family, and it gets just over a foot high and a foot wide at full maturity. It is an annual plant that produces medium leaves in a mounded form that is very attractive. The leaves are a whitish-gray coloring and they are dissected. The leaves will get between 12 and 16 inches tall and a foot wide, and the flowers are a deeper mustard yellow color.
You want to pinch off this plant if it starts to get leggy. Full sun exposure is recommended to ensure healthy growth for this plant, along with a very well-drained soil. It’s common to use them as a border or edging plant, and they’ll bloom from midsummer to early in the fall months. They grow best planted in zones 8 to 10, and you will have to fertilize them regularly. The fertilizer should be temperature controlled or organic, and you want a liquid fertilizer. Regular watering should be a priority to keep the soil evenly moist, but you don’t want to overwater it as it can cause rot.
Where to Plant Dusty Miller Varieties
You want to plant dusty miller in the sunniest area of your garden. Due the the shrubby growth and nature, dusty miller varieties are best for borders, beds, rock gardens, or mass plantings. The attractive silvery-gray foliage looks fantastic in a garden landscape when you have it mixed in with pink, red, or purple flowers and creeping annuals. Because of the plant’s tolerance for drought, it’s a great option to add to your xeriscape garden too.
Depending on the landscaping needs, you can grow dusty miller varieties in containers. This way, you can have attractive plants on a patio, in the backyard, or to enhance your entryway by your front door. Also, you can bring the containers inside to winterize them before the first frost of the season.
When you plant dusty miller varieties, you’ll want to leave between one and three feet between each plant to ensure they get proper air circulation. This gives the plant room to grow while preventing mold growth from forming on the leaves.
The dusty miller plant is a very generic name given to a lot of varieties of plants with silver or gray leaves. It’s a pretty option that has foliage that can make any garden or landscape look beautiful, and it’s very low-maintenance.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.