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Silver- and gray-leaved plants

July/Aug. 2013 California Bountiful magazine



Here are some of the silver- and gray-leaved plants that are near and dear to California Bountiful gardening expert Pat Rubin.

Many are colorful gems, too

Tower of jewels (Echium wildpretii)
A biennial that flowers its second year. Forms a rosette of gray foliage, then sends up a spike to 6 feet tall with coral-colored flowers. Very striking. Everyone will want to know what you are growing.
English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Long, gray, needle-like leaves, long stems of heavenly, fragrant purple flowers. Can be planted like a hedge, then sheared back. Gets woody and overgrown after five or six years and should be replaced.
Carnations (Dianthus sp.)
Many have grayish foliage and, combined with pink flowers, they make a winning combination.
Lavender cotton (Santolina chamaecyparissus)
Makes a tight mound of silver-gray foliage, then masses of small yellow, round flowers. Can be clipped back. Easily started from cuttings. Blends well with rosemary and low-growing Ceanothus.
Lamb's ears (Stachys byzantina)
Furry gray leaves carpet the ground. In early summer, it sends up fuzzy, flowering stalks. The flowers are somewhat inconspicuous. I'd rather the plant didn't bloom, and there are many cultivars available now that do not bloom. It can reseed.
Rose campion (Lychnis coronaria)
Bright magenta red flowers atop gray stems. Gray foliage. Very striking. Beware: Each plant produces hundreds of seeds and the plant can reseed itself everywhere.
Dusty miller (Senecio cineraria)
Probably the most popular silver-leaved plant. It looks almost white.
Woolly thyme (Thymus pseudolanuginosus)
Low-growing ground cover with fuzzy gray foliage. Great near the front of the border, planted among the perennials or around steppingstones.
Culinary sage (Salvia officinalis)
Upright plant, gray foliage.
Artemisia (Artemisia 'Powis Castle')
Silvery white foliage, very ferny, makes an ever-increasing mound. Can root as it goes. Needs cutting back in winter to keep it tidy. They come in many forms, so check your local nursery.
Sea holly (Eryngium amethystinum)
Foliage tends toward gray-green. Plant produces long stems of steel-blue flowers that last a long time.
Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)
Gray, ferny, aromatic foliage. Sends up many spikes of lavender-blue flowers. Very pretty in the garden.
Snow-in-summer (Cerastium tomentosum)
Hardy ground cover with tiny, silver-gray leaves, then covered with masses of white flowers.
  Clary sage (Salvia argentea)
Beautiful downy foliage. A biennial, so it blooms its second year, then dies, but worth a place in the garden.

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