Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Dusty Miller, Velvet Centaurea
Centaurea cineraria

Family: Asteraceae (ass-ter-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Centaurea (sen-TAR-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: cineraria (sin-uh-RAR-ee-uh) (Info)

Synonym:Centaurea candidissima

4 members have or want this plant for trade.

View this plant in a garden


6-12 in. (15-30 cm)

9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

Not Applicable

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
From herbaceous stem cuttings
From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

Click thumbnail
to view:

By Rarri
Thumbnail #1 of Centaurea cineraria by Rarri

By Magwar
Thumbnail #2 of Centaurea cineraria by Magwar


4 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral hortulusaptus On Jun 10, 2005, hortulusaptus from Berkeley, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

The name Centaurea cineraria is of dubious accuracy. This name has been applied to a variety of plants which really deserve another name. This is possibly the case here as the images shown are not actually of a Centaurea, but of Senecio maritima, another Mediterranean plant with gray leaves. For some reason, it is very common for this plant to be mis-identified in the US horticultural trade. If you left the plants pictured to flower, you would notice that they produce a loose corymb of yellow daisy-like flowers. True Centaureas, on the other hand, all produce the same sort of 'batchelor button' like fowers. In C. gymnocarpa (sometimes mis-identified as C. cineraria), these are lavender-purple; in C. ragusina (also often mis-id'ed as C. cineraria) they are larger and bright yellow.

Positive ccwales On Apr 30, 2005, ccwales from Wales, MA (Zone 6a) wrote:

I was surprised to find that about half of the Dusty Millers I planted last year overwintered just fine here in zone 5 this year -- had lots of snow for protection.

Positive lmelling On Mar 24, 2005, lmelling from Ithaca, NY (Zone 5b) wrote:

Beautiful to dry and use in wreaths or arrangements. They look particularly nice as a contrast color in wreaths with eucalyptus or salal leaves The lacy texture compliments as well. To dry:

Cut full stems (leaves) off the plant. Remove bottom side branching so you have a slight stem. Spread the leaves in between pieces of newspaper. After all are placed, weight the newspaper down with a book or some other flat weight (for flat pieces) OR (for pieces with some curl) do not weight the paper. Put the newspaper/stems in a dark spot or somewhere out of direct sunlight.

It will take about 3 weeks for the stems to dry out completely. Store unused stems in a box or dark place where insects (moths in particular) won't bother. They will last for several years.

Positive Breezymeadow On Mar 24, 2005, Breezymeadow from Culpeper, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

This plant is very easy to grow so long as it has good drainage. While it tolerates drought well, constantly wet feet will quickly lead to rot. Does best in full sun, but will also tolerate partial-sun conditions so long as it gets some full sun for a few hours during the day. Will frequently overwinter here in Zone 6/7, but plants can get a bit scraggly that 2nd season.

For me this plant is a PERFECT contrast plant for brighter colors. I've paired it at different times with bright pink petunias, red salvias, bright purple verbena, etc., & it sets off these plants beautifully. It's also a TERRIFIC border plant for an all-white/silver "Moon Garden".

Positive OMC On Mar 23, 2005, OMC from Dothan, AL wrote:

I live in zone 8b. I planted some dusty miller last year, and was surprised to see that they lived through the winter months. We planted them around our mailbox in full sun, with some gerbera daisies. They looked great together. Marie

Neutral Terry On Mar 12, 2001, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

Deeply cut, oak leaf shaped leaves are covered with tiny white hairs. This plant can sometimes overwinter when protected, and is used as background for colorful flowers. The common name also refers to several other annuals and perennials.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Arab, Alabama
Mobile, Alabama
Eureka, California
Martinez, California
Grand Junction, Colorado
Old Lyme, Connecticut
Ocean View, Delaware
Clearwater, Florida
Royston, Georgia
Jacksonville, Illinois
Wales, Massachusetts
Cincinnati, Ohio
Cookeville, Tennessee
Lipan, Texas
Santo, Texas
Spicewood, Texas
Bay Center, Washington

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