Dusty Miller Flower – Information On Growing Dusty Miller

By: Becca Badgett, Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden

The dusty miller plant (Senecio cineraria) is an interesting landscape addition, grown for its silvery-gray foliage. Lacy leaves of the dusty miller plant are attractive companions for many blooms in the garden. Dusty miller care is minimal when the plant is established.

Dusty Miller Care

Although the dusty miller flower blooms in mid-summer, the small yellow blooms are small and not considered showy. The foliage of the dusty miller plant, however, is long-lasting and drought resistant. As with most silvery, furry plants, growing dusty miller helps the garden remain attractive through the heat of the summer. It will also tolerate frost.

The dusty miller plant is often grown as an annual and discarded after the first season; however, it is an herbaceous perennial and may return in USDA plant hardiness zones 8 to 10. Growing dusty miller can handle the heat, but is best planted where afternoon shade is available during the hottest months of summer.

The dusty miller plant is adaptable to many soil types, thriving in acidic clay to sandy loam soils. The soil must be well-draining to avoid root rot. Water regularly right after planting and withhold water once roots have developed and the plant is growing.

Dusty miller care may involve a midsummer trim if the plant becomes leggy. The dusty miller flower may be removed to keep the plant compact. This specimen can grow as tall as 1 foot (0.5 m.) but often remains shorter. Leave a few flowers to bloom in late summer if you wish the plant to self-seed.

What Can Dusty Miller Be Planted With?

Dusty miller may be used as a background plant for low-growing, creeping annual plants, such as wave petunias. It may be attractively placed among ornamental grasses. Growing dusty miller may effectively be used in borders or as part of an outdoor container planting.

Take advantage of growing dusty miller’s drought tolerance and interplant in a xeric garden, away from the water source. The xeriscape garden is an effective way to save water and time. Include native shrubs and flowers, apply a pre-emergence weed preventer or mulch and forget about dusty miller care for the summer. During periods of extreme drought, however, even xeric gardens benefit from an occasional soaking.

When growing dusty miller, be sure to plant compatible, colorful companions. The lacy leaves are resistant to deer and are an excellent choice for areas where browsing animals may create problems with other plants in the landscape.

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Learn About Dusty Millers

How to Sow and Plant Dusty Miller Annuals

Dusty Miller may be grown from seed sown early indoors and transplanted outside after frost, or sown directly in the garden after frost.

Sowing Dusty Miller Seed Indoors:

  • Sow indoors 4-6 weeks before last expected heavy spring frost
  • Sow evenly and thinly and cover with ½ inch of seed starting formula
  • Keep the soil moist at 65-75 degrees F
  • Seedlings emerge in 10-21 days
  • As soon as seedlings emerge, provide plenty of light on a sunny windowsill or grow seedlings 3-4 inches beneath fluorescent plant lights turned on 16 hours per day, off for 8 hours at night. Raise the lights as the plants grow taller. Incandescent bulbs will not work for this process because they will get too hot. Most plants require a dark period to grow, do not leave lights on for 24 hours.
  • Thin to one seedling per cell when they have two sets of leaves.
  • Seedlings do not need much fertilizer, feed when they are 3-4 weeks old using a starter solution (half strength of a complete indoor houseplant food) according to manufacturer’s directions.
  • Before planting in the garden, dusty miller seedling plants need to be “hardened off”. Accustom young plants to outdoor conditions by moving them to a sheltered place outside for a week. Be sure to protect them from wind and hot sun at first. If frost threatens at night, cover or bring containers indoors, then take them out again in the morning. This hardening off process toughens the plant’s cell structure and reduces transplant shock and scalding. Space seedlings 8-10 inches apart in the garden.

Sowing Dusty Miller Directly in the Garden:

  • Sow in full sun and well-drained soil after all danger of frost.
  • Prepare the soil by removing weeds and working organic matter into the top 6-8 inches of soil then level and smooth.
  • Most plants respond well to soils amended with organic matter. Compost is a wonderful form of organic matter with a good balance of nutrients and an ideal pH level, it can be added to your planting area at any time. If compost is not available, top dress the soil after planting with 1-2 inches of organic mulch, which will begin to breakdown into compost. After the growing season, a soil test will indicate what soil amendments are needed for the following season.
  • Sow thinly and evenly and cover with ¼ inch of fine soil.
  • Firm lightly and keep evenly moist.
  • Seedlings emerge in 10-21 days depending on the soil and weather conditions.
  • Thin to stand about 6 inches apart when seedlings are 1-2 inches high.

Care for a Dusty Miller Plant

Gardeners planting borders and flower beds often choose Dusty Miller (Senecio cineraria) to fill in among brighter annual and perennial flowers. With its unassuming silver and lacy foliage, Dusty Miller complements a variety of different plants and flowers, adding just the right touch to many different landscapes. Dusty Miller grows well in either full or partial sun and is easy to maintain in planting areas because it does not have extensive planting or growing requirements.

Cultivate the growing area with the garden spade prior to planting the Dusty Miller. Work the soil 4-inches deep with the spade and sprinkle the slow-release fertilizer over the soil (consulting the fertilizer package for the recommended amount for the size of the planting area). Smooth the surface of the soil with the rake.

Dig holes for the Dusty Miller with the shovel, spacing the holes approximately 1 to 2 feet apart (depending upon how densely you wish to plant). Make each hole deep enough to place the plants in the soil at the same depth as they are growing in their temporary containers.

  • Gardeners planting borders and flower beds often choose Dusty Miller (Senecio cineraria) to fill in among brighter annual and perennial flowers.
  • Work the soil 4-inches deep with the spade and sprinkle the slow-release fertilizer over the soil (consulting the fertilizer package for the recommended amount for the size of the planting area).

Remove each Dusty Miller plant from its temporary container carefully by squeezing the bottom of the container and pulling gently on the central stem of the plant to loosen it.

Place each plant into a prepared hole and fill soil in around the roots. Firm the soil with your hands around the base of each plant.

Provide a thorough watering of the Dusty Miller plants immediately after you finish planting them. Water until the soil is saturated.

Watch the Dusty Miller throughout the growing season and if you notice any blossoms (you will not see many), remove them by pinching them off. Dusty Miller grows best when its energy goes directly to foliage production instead of producing blossoms.

  • Remove each Dusty Miller plant from its temporary container carefully by squeezing the bottom of the container and pulling gently on the central stem of the plant to loosen it.

Dusty Miller is drought tolerant so it will not require water unless growing conditions become exceedingly dry. Provide water for these plants only if the soil is very dry and the plants seem to be suffering. Dusty Miller will continue to thrive well into the autumn, even through frosts. Also plant Dusty Miller in containers along with other annual flowers by following the same planting procedure. Provide water daily or every other day for container gardens, however, to ensure the plants do not dry out.

10. Daffodil

Finally, there are daffodils (Narcissus). These reliable perennials are often the first to bloom every spring. Their cheerful flowers can grow almost anywhere, and their straight and orderly leaves frame the blooms nicely. They'll do well with full sun or partial shade. Daffodils are toxic to deer, so they won't eat them.

If your deer problem is severe, plant these 10 plants in a pseudo-perimeter around the deer-alluring plants in your garden. The strong scent of these "deer deterrents" will disguise the others and leave deer uninterested in pursuing your garden for food.

Plant Finder

Silver Bullet® Dusty Miller

Artemisia stellerianna 'Silver Bullet'

Other Names: Beach Wormwood, Sage, Mugwort

Beautiful lacy silver foliage is valued for its texture and contrast in the garden this variety attracts wildlife and is resistant to deer does best in poor, dry soils, an ideal groundcover for adverse conditions where little else will grow

Silver Bullet® Dusty Miller's attractive tomentose lobed leaves remain silver in color with hints of bluish-green throughout the season. Neither the flowers nor the fruit are ornamentally significant.

Silver Bullet® Dusty Miller is an herbaceous perennial with a ground-hugging habit of growth. It brings an extremely fine and delicate texture to the garden composition and should be used to full effect.

This plant will require occasional maintenance and upkeep, and is best cleaned up in early spring before it resumes active growth for the season. Deer don't particularly care for this plant and will usually leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. Gardeners should be aware of the following characteristic(s) that may warrant special consideration

  • Spreading
  • Self-Seeding

Silver Bullet® Dusty Miller is recommended for the following landscape applications

  • Mass Planting
  • General Garden Use
  • Groundcover
  • Naturalizing And Woodland Gardens

Silver Bullet® Dusty Miller will grow to be about 8 inches tall at maturity, with a spread of 24 inches. Its foliage tends to remain low and dense right to the ground. It grows at a fast rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 10 years.

This plant should only be grown in full sunlight. It prefers dry to average moisture levels with very well-drained soil, and will often die in standing water. It is considered to be drought-tolerant, and thus makes an ideal choice for a low-water garden or xeriscape application. It is particular about its soil conditions, with a strong preference for clay, alkaline soils, and is able to handle environmental salt. It is highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments. This is a selected variety of a species not originally from North America. It can be propagated by division however, as a cultivated variety, be aware that it may be subject to certain restrictions or prohibitions on propagation.

Types of Dusty Miller

Dusty Miller ‘Cirrus’

This variety is characterized by large and round silver leaves. It can resist harsh weather conditions. The plant can give a very colorful and contrasting effect to any garden. It is also known as Centaurea Cineraria. The flowers are button-shaped and are yellow in color. It is an annual plant and grows up to a height of 0.83 to 1 foot. Its width can range from 0.67 feet to 2 feet. It is a mound-forming, showy plant that can tolerate deer and the seashore. It blooms from early summer to late summer and is hardy in USDA zones 7 to 9. Full sun is needed for the ideal growth of this plant, alongside soil that is either sand or clay loam with a pH of 5.5 to 7.5. It has an average water requirement. This plant has an upright growing habit. It is a low maintenance plant that does not require pruning. It does not have any negative characteristics either. It can best be put to use for mass planting, border edging, general garden use, hanging baskets and container planting. It has a medium growth rate. When growing this plant, the individual plants should be spaced 16 inches apart in order for the plant to have enough space to grow, alongside proper air circulation. This variety lives to be approximately 10 years old.

Dusty Miller ‘Silverdust’

The scientific name for this variety is Senecio cineraria. It is a mounded plant that grows up to a height of 10 inches and is approximately 10 inches wide too. Other common names for this plant include Silver Ragwort and syn Jacobaea. The leaves of this variety are slightly finer than the Cirrus leaves have more of a silver hue to them. The shape of the leaves is like that of snowflakes. This variety is mainly grown for its foliage. It is ideal if the flower stems are trimmed in order to promote new growth. This is a low maintenance variety and can tolerate drought very well. It needs full sun exposure to grow. The soil should be well-drained with average moisture levels. Special care should be taken of the fact that there is no standing water, otherwise, the plant can die. This plant is hardy in USDA zones 6 to 10. The plug crop time is 4 to 5 weeks and it takes around 7 to 8 weeks for the transplant to finish. This variety is perfect for beds, borders and container plantings. 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature for this plant. Around 8 inches of space should be left between each plant to ensure that there is ample amount of space for the roots of the plant to grow. This is a selected variety that is not originally from North America. It is a drought-tolerant plant and is the best choice for a low water garden.

Dusty Miller ‘New Look’

This variety is very productive. The leaves are very full. It is characterized by tall and thick stems with silver-edged leaves. The more this plant is picked, the more it grows. It is a fast-growing plant that is ready to cut in only 4 months. It is a perennial plant that grows up to a height of 12 to 18 inches. Full sun is ideal for the growth of this plant. It should be spaced at 9 to 12 inches in order to ensure proper air circulation. This plant approximately takes 90 to 120 days for maturity. To grow this variety, the seeds should be sown 10 to 12 weeks before the last frost. It is recommended to water at the bottom so that the roots have enough water. The seedlings do not have a very strong silver color. The color starts showing when the plant matures. This plant is hardy in USDA zones 8 to 10. This plant has small flowers yellow in color but these plants are usually picked out, owing to the fact that this plant is grown mainly for its foliage. This plant can best be put to use in fresh-cut flower displays and container plantings. This plant should be watered twice a week for the first six weeks. After that, it requires a lesser amount of water. Usual fertilizing is not needed. However, a timed-release fertilizer should be used at planting time. These plants can survive the cold weather really well.

Dusty Miller ‘Silver Lace’

This variety is the most delicate one. It is a compact plant that is excellent for borders, edging and pots. It has a slow growth rate and needs full sun to grow best. It can grow to a height of 7 inches and can spread 8 inches wide. It is an annual plant that is hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8.

Other names for this plant include Beach Wormwood, Sage and Mugwort. It has beautiful ferny foliage that has a lovely texture. It is resistant to deer. Dry soils are ideal for this plant to grow healthy. This variety is also known for its foliage. The fruit and flowers are not ornamentally significant. It has an upright growth habit. It needs regular maintenance in order to be healthy and to look good. It is best to get the plant cleaned up before spring so that it can actively grow during the season. It is resistant to deer and is best used for mass planting, as a ground cover or for general garden use.

This plant looks best with the Garden Phlox, Gayfeather and Coneflower. This plant needs to be fertilized regularly. It can grow in any location and can tolerate heat well. Pruning is highly advisable for this plant since the shape and size needs to be maintained. The flowers of this plant are not showy. The old flowers should be removed so that the plant looks healthy and there is enough energy in the plant to ensure that the foliage grows to become dense and thick.


It is a member of the Senecio family and the scientific name for this variety is Senecio cineraria ‘Ramparts’. This is a fairly low maintenance plant that is much easier to grow than the rest. Basic care should be provided for this plant to grow healthy. It needs full sun and well-drained moist soil for best growth.

Silver Filigree

It is also known as silver cascade dusty miller. This variety is hardy in zones 5 to 10. It grows to a height of 4 to 8 inches and spreads 12 to 14 inches. It needs full sun to grow healthy. More than 6 hours of sunlight are ideal for this variety. The foliage is silver in color. This short height perennial is easy to maintain and grow and requires an average amount of water. It is best put to use in containers and landscapes. Pruning is highly recommended for this plant since they can look undesirable after blooming. Pruning can keep the plant looking healthier for longer. It is an award winner plant.

White Diamond

The scientific name for this plant is Chrysanthemum cineraria folium. This variety belongs to the Asteraceae family. It grows to a height of 1 to 1.33 feet and has a width of 1 foot. It is an annual plant with medium leaves that are very attractive and are in mounded form. The leaves are grayish-white in color and are dissected. The leaves grow 12 to 16 inches tall and 12 inches wide. The flowers of this variety are mustard yellow in color.

They should be pinched if they start becoming leggy. Full sun is ideal for the growth of this plant, alongside well-drained soil. These are often used as edging or border plants. Midsummer and early fall are the blooming seasons for this variety. The USDA hardiness zones are 8 to 10. Regular fertilizing is needed for this plant. The fertilizer should be water-soluble, temperature-controlled or organic. Regular watering should be done in order to keep the soil evenly moist. Special care should be taken for overwatering as it can cause the plant to rot.

The dusty miller plant is the generic name given to a lot of plant varieties with gray or silver leaves. It is a beautiful plant whose foliage can make any garden look beautiful.

Watch the video: Dusty Miller Care and Plant Chat - SGD 233

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