Dusty Miller Loses Out to “Dusty” California and Mediterranean Natives
Like WalMarts and Home Depots, Senecio cineraria or Dusty Miller can be found in virtually every American town. It travelled for good reasons – it can tolerate low water and, in well-drained soil, it also companions well with high water plants. While we don’t dispute the utility of Dusty Miller’s mounds of silvery foliage, we tend to use and recommend more local, climate-compatible, alternatives that bloom.
Centaurea gymnocarpa is virtually indistinguishable from the silvery mounds of Dusty Miller, yet, as a Mediterranean native, it has far greater climate compatibility. Its blooms of statuesque fushia flowers come as a delightful surprise to those accustomed to bloom-free Senecio.
California native Eriophyllum nevinii, offers yet another Dusty alternative. A striking addition to all white flower and moon-lit gardens, we love it as an accent or in patterned rows. Even heartier than the Mediterranean Centaurea gymnocarpa, Eriophyllum nevinii lives a long life, except where frost is severe and attracts pollinators. Its frosty foliage blooms with tiny, daisy like clusters of flowers that start bright yellow and fade to a rich syrupy brown. The flower stalks can be cut back once spent to spark rejuvenation and create open, airy growth for the next season.