Common name: Silver ragwort, Dusty miller, Senecio cineraria
A beautiful leafy plant that can provide a nice background and contrast to the bright flowers in your garden, Silver ragworts have a unique silver-white foliage. The name Dusty miller matches them very well, because they do look like they have been dusted with flour.
The plants can grow to a height of 1 m with a densely branched stem, that is woody and hard at the base. Leaves are pinnate and multi-lobed, about 15 cms long and 7 cms wide. Both stems and leaves are covered with matted, downy hair that is denser underneath the leaves.
Younger leaves are completely silver-white, but older leaves lose these hair gradually to become more green than silver. The beautiful shape of the leaves make them look like snowflakes or Christmas decorations.
Silver ragwort plants also produce small yellow flowers, that are quite inconspicuous among the silvery foliage, but can also provide a contrast to the otherwise colorless plant. Seeds are small cylindrical achenes that can fall on the ground and produce baby plants around the mother plant.
These plants need good sunlight for their silver color to shine through, as the leaves will turn greyish-green if placed in the shade. They are very drought-tolerant, and can go for days without water. So they are considered to be good candidates for xeriscaping, or low water gardening. Occasional fertilization and good pruning can help the plants stay bushy. Tall plants might look leggy with dead leaves clinging to the base of the stem.
There are many variants of the Silver ragwort like Silver dust, Cirrus, New look, Silver filigree and White diamond with variations in the shape and color of the leaves. Silver ragwort plants are pest resistant, but can provide nesting for insects among its hairy leaves.
They can make good border plants because of their contrast to other plants, and can be planted in the same pot along with other brighter colored plants. They look very similar to Wormwood plants, Artemisia absinthium because of their silver-colored foliage. But Wormwood plant leaves are more rounded-off than Silver ragwort leaves.
Propagation is through seeds or stem cuttings.