How To Care For Dusty Miller
While generally grown as an annual, Dusty Miller is actually a perennial plant. Typically, they have lacy fern like leaves, but they can have sometimes have ruffled edges. The leaves look as if they’ve been dusted with a white or silvery gray powder and have a soft velvety feel. While they are a beautiful plant on their own, they’re commonly used to add a nice contrast to flower beds and along borders because they look good with any type and color of flower or plant.
Dusty Miller usually only reach around 12 inches in height which makes them an ideal choice for using as ground cover around larger plants. However, some plants can get up to 2 feet in height. To keep the plant compact the tops can be cut off to promote bushier growth. With proper care, they will add beautiful foliage to any flower bed or container from spring all the way through to late fall.
Although Dusty Miller can tolerate areas that have low light or partial shade, they prefer a sunny location. They will have a much prettier color if grown in full sun. And, with inadequate light the can become very lanky and won’t keep their compact growth pattern. If you live in an area that has extremely warm temperatures, the plant will be more tolerant of shady areas.
Dusty Miller thrives in well drained soil and should be planted from 9 to 12 inches apart. The holes should be dug to the same approximate size of the container the plants are growing in. Plant them in dry soil and just lightly cover the root balls with soil. Add water to allow the soil to compact around the roots to prevent damage and then add more soil if needed.
In temperatures below 90 degrees, watering once weekly is generally sufficient. Increase watering to twice weekly in higher temperatures. While the plant is drought and heat tolerant once well established, it should be watered as soon as the soil is completely dry and you notice any signs of wilting. Dusty Millers are hardy plants that are easy to grow but they are prone to root rot. The best way to keep them healthy is to make sure that the soil has lots of drainage.
Moist soils don’t contain enough nutrients for these plants, so fertilization is necessary. Both water soluble and slow release fertilizers work fine. Water soluble fertilizers should be mixed according to instructions and applied about every two weeks. Slow release fertilizer can be mixed into the soil once each growing season.
Best known for its beautiful foliage, Dusty Miller also produce bright yellow or purple blooms. However, if you want a prettier bushier plant the blooms need to be removed. The flowers will suck nutrients from the plant and usually cause it to be lanky and less bushy. For this reason it’s rare to see the plant in full bloom in landscaping or gardens.
Dusty Miller can be propagated from stem cuttings during the summer, root division and it easily grows from seed. In some areas the plant will even come back on its own year after year. The cuttings can be planted in a mixture of moist perlite and peat, covered with plastic and placed in an area with bright light until well established.
Seeds can be started indoors approximately 10 weeks before the last frost. Dusty Miller seeds are very tiny and germination requires light. The seeds should be sown on top of moist soil and left uncovered. Place the container in an area where the temperatures range from 65 to 75 degrees and where the seeds can receive lots of light. Germination generally occurs within 10 to 15 days.
Written by Connie Corder, Copyright 2011 HousePlantsForYou.com