Photo by Melody

Silver Belles

By Tamara Galbraith (TexasTamFebruary 25, 2014

Anyone who's studied landscaping knows the value of silver-leafed plants. Mostly, they serve to brighten a dark area, but can also provide a lovely contrast to purple foliage plants.

Gardening picture(Editor's Note:  This article was originally published on March 31, 2007. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to promptly respond to new questions or comments.)

One of the most beautiful and carefree silver plants has got to be artemisia, commonly known by its ghastly herbal name of wormwood. Although Artemisia absinthium -- a main ingredient of Absinthe -- has the naughty and probably inaccurate reputation of driving Vincent Van Gogh to madness, the other varieties of this plant are really something every gardener should have, especially for those who might again struggle with drought conditions this summer.

Artemisia ludoviciana, for example, includes the 'Valerie Finnis' cultivar, with beautiful upright, silver-green, tarragon-like foliage. Artemisia schmidtiana is the gorgeous, soft 'Silver Mound' type. Artemisia stelleriana 'Silver Brocade' is pretty much just like the more commonly known Dusty Miller, but fuzzier.

Given too-perfect conditions, like lean soil and lots of sun, some artemisias can take over an area quickly. 'Powis Castle' and the aforementioned 'Valerie Finnis' can be especially aggressive, so trim regularly. Planting in heavy clay soils also seems to keep them in check. Most Artemisias are hardy to USDA Zone 5; some remain evergreen in mild climates. Most varieties are a turn-off for hungry deer and rabbits too.

While exposure to Artemisia may not turn you into a visionary painter, it will certainly bring silvery, hardy beauty to your landscape. Give one a try.

  About Tamara Galbraith  
Tamara GalbraithI am an avid organic gardener and former Master Gardener for Collin County, Texas. I enjoy growing nearly everything, from vegetables to herbs to tropicals. Lately I have been converting the flower beds in my Zone 8 home to all Texas natives. In my non-gardening spare time, I enjoy cooking, reading, birdwatching or hugging on either my sweet English hubby or our Golden Retriever, Monty.

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