Gardeners everywhere have created their own original designs with Dusty Miller and their favorite annual flowers. The young leaves of Cineraria are slightly lobed, a bit like oak leaves, but as the plants mature, they become deeply cut, much paler in colour and are covered in a silvery grey fleece.
Because the foliage is so attractive it is grown as a contrast plant and ornamental annual. Planted in spring, this compact plant is ideal for edging, mixed baskets and container planting and perfect for xeriscaping as it is drought tolerant. The fuzzy, grey leaves practically glow in a moonlit garden. Planted in June it is useful for winter decoration and will tolerate light frosts.
Easily raised from seed and, as borderline perennials they often survive the winter in mild gardens. The yellow flowers on upright stalks are attractive but are usually removed to prevent legginess and focus attention on the foliage.
The foliage makes an excellent backdrop to cut flowers in floral arrangements. It is spectacular with red roses. In the autumn the plants can be used as a dried in arrangements: cut the plant off at the base and dry them in a warm, dry place.
Sowing: Sow indoors from February to June
Plants typically take around 12 weeks from sowing to planting out.
Surface sow the seeds into cells containing a good quality, moist seed compost. Do not cover, as they need light to germinate. Make sure the compost is kept moist but not wet at all times, watering from the base to prevent damping off. Germination usually takes 10 to 14 days at 18 to 24°C (65 to 75°F).
Once the seedlings have their first set of true leaves and are large enough to handle, transplant the seedlings into 7cm (3in) pots to grow on.
Gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10 to 15 days before planting out. Plant 15cm (6in) apart in full sun and ordinary well-drained soil.
Cineraria does best in well drained, even sandy soils with regular watering. It is fairly drought tolerant once established, but should be watered during prolonged dry periods. New plantings may require daily watering, especially in sandy soils, until the roots are well developed. To encourage new basal growth, and to keep the plants bushy appearance, pinch off the flowers regularly, removing any lengthening stems.
City/Courtyard Gardens, Cottage/Informal Garden, Flowers Borders and Beds or Patio/Container Plants. Xeriscaping. Dried arrangements.
Cineraria is native to the western and central Mediterranean region where it grows in arid, scrub-like habitats. It prefers summers that are warm and dry and winters that are cool (not cold) and wet. Growing by the sea, a lot of plants are similarly felty-white to protect them against the dry salt sea winds.
Cineraria maritima is a species of Senecio from the family Asteraceae, it has six different botanical names(!) It is also known as - Senecio cineraria, Senecio bicolour, S. candicans, S. maritimus and Centaurea maritima cv. 'Diamond'.
There are at least eight different garden plants commonly called 'Dusty Miller'. All are characterised by woolly, silvery-grey foliage; a low, mound like habit; drought tolerance; and an appreciation of full sun. These are: Lychnis coronaria (family Caryophyllaceae); and six other species in the Asteraceae: Chrysanthemum ptarmiciflorum, Centaurea cineraria, C. gymnocarpa, and C. ragusiana; Senecio viravira; and the wormwood, Artemisia stelleriana.
As for all those botanical synonyms:
When an expert thinks he or she has discovered an undescribed species that doesn't yet have a botanical name, he or she may name it. Later, another expert (maybe the same expert, now older and wiser) might realise that the plant already had a name, and since the original name must prevail, the newer one becomes a synonym. That's how the three Senecio synonyms came about.
Another way a plant can get a synonym is if some expert decides that the species has been placed mistakenly in the wrong genus. He or she might erect a new genus, or move the species into some other genus. When that happens, the old name with the wrong genus, (in this case, Cineraria maritima) becomes a synonym.
Finally, the synonym, Centaurea maritima cv. 'Diamond' must be the result of some expert seeing a Senecio cineraria and thinking it was a cultivar of Centaurea maritima, a different, but similar looking species.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 100mg Average Seed Count 240 Seeds Family Asteraceae Genus Cineraria Species maritima Cultivar candicans Synonym Senecio cineraria, S. bicolour, S bicolour subsp. cineraria, S. candicans. Common Name Dusty Miller Hardiness Hardy Annual Flowers Yellow in late summer Foliage Silvery white/grey. Height 75cm (30in) Spread 75cm (30in) Position Full sun to part shade Soil Requires well-drained soil Time to Sow Sow indoors from February to June