Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Gray Santolina, Lavender Cotton, Holy Herb, Ground Cypress, Petite Cypress
Santolina chamaecyparissus

Family: Asteraceae (ass-ter-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Santolina (san-toh-LEE-nuh) (Info)
Species: chamaecyparissus (kam-ee-ky-par-ISS-us) (Info)

Synonym:Santolina incana

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

26 members have or want this plant for trade.

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12-18 in. (30-45 cm)

9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Pollen may cause allergic reaction

Bloom Color:
Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)
7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)
8.6 to 9.0 (strongly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From herbaceous stem cuttings
By simple layering

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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There are a total of 27 photos.
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20 positives
3 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Adelaidy On Dec 6, 2012, Adelaidy from Blanco, TX wrote:

I have a plant that is about 24 inches tall, but with leaves very similar to this plant in your photo. They are grey-green and slightly fuzzy. The blooms are like a buttercup only they are orange in color. The stems are green, but rather "woody" and stiff. It is about 4 ft in circumference. I would like to know if you can tell me the "variety" that mine could be. No one seems to know, not even the greenhouse owner who grows TX plants. Please help.

Positive printr On Jun 25, 2012, printr from Olancha, CA wrote:

Planted in October 2009 from a 3" pot on the east side of a stone wall. Grew slowly into a 6" ball and then, starting in July 2010, for two years, it was totally ignored and not watered. It liked that, and is roughly a foot wide and tall, and bloomed this year (2012).

Despite the afternoon shade, it's not leggy, and it responded vigorously when watering began again in May.

Climate zone: Sunset 11, USDA 8b (the Owens Valley, east of the Sierra Nevada, California), well drained fine sandy soil near the toe of an alluvial fan.

Will propagate from cutting and seed and will post results.

Positive ProfGillespie On Jun 10, 2012, ProfGillespie from Seminole, OK wrote:

This is the strangest plant. I heard in Oklahoma lavender doesn't grow. I planted one anyway.I've had it for about 5 years and the 2nd and 3rd year I harvested purple fragrant lavender buds and made lavender oil with the stalks and leaves. Then for the last 2 years, no purple shoots. Yellow round flowers appear, not smelling like lavender at all. What happened? I did trim it 3 years ago. I thought maybe I hurt it since I get no lavender fragrance from the leaves either. I'd love feedback. I found its ID as lavender cotton after much research.

Positive Gabrielle On Feb 28, 2012, Gabrielle from (Zone 5a) wrote:

An interesting plant, more of a neutral filler, though it does bloom from May-July in my garden.

Positive linwe On Jul 30, 2011, linwe from Lambertville, MI wrote:

I've had my Santolina for something over 30 years.

It's my favorite plant in the yard, it never moves from where it's planted, (unlike Rue that pops EVERYWHERE!!) it'd probably die if I took care of it, and boy does it smell wonderful!!!!!!

I always recommend it to anyone that has that stubborn dry hot corner. I love it!

Positive PerennialConnection On Jul 12, 2011, PerennialConnection from Albion, MI (Zone 6a) wrote:

I live in Jackson, Michigan (USA). My area is USDA zone 5 (it depends on who you ask wether it is 5A or 5B). I believe that I have an unusual micro-climate in my location. The houses are less than 20 feet in any direction; the snow cover is easily 2+ feet thick through January and February at all times. Conversely, when the weather begins to break my back yard does not receive hard frost. Santolina is doing VERY well. No die-back, I never water, and the soil ranges from rocky (some previous owners driveway base) to sandy loam. I am eager to try these in a formal arrangement on my north facing lawn. It is much shadier there, but live and learn.

Positive jenborcic On Oct 5, 2010, jenborcic from Pittsburg, CA wrote:

Very drought tolerant and loves the very hot summer heat of inland California. I have mine planted in heavy clay and it does great!

Neutral blackcanyon On Mar 30, 2009, blackcanyon from Hotchkiss, CO wrote:

Here in western CO (zone 5 or colder), it isn't evergreen. Usually dies back completely. I trim it each spring, mulch in winter. And I agree with all those who said this plant likes very well drained soil. A very attractive xeric plant.

Positive cfreid On Mar 30, 2009, cfreid from Port Townsend, WA wrote:

I've been using grey santolina for years. First in Portland, OR and now in Tucson,AZ,climates that couldn't be more different. In Portland I had to
clip it to the ground every spring and grow it on a south facing bank
with minimal water. Here in Tucson it's on the north side of the house
and gets minimal sun but lots of reflected light and is surround by
hardscape. Best of all the bunnies hate it!

Positive lgtnin On May 26, 2008, lgtnin from Hallsville, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

When purchased, this plant had a tag in it saying it was a licorice plant. It took it two full years in the ground before it began blooming. I had come to the conclusion that it was a silver wormwood when all of a sudden we have yellow flowers. It keeps the pests away like a wormwood. I cut it all back to about six or eight inches in winter. It is a beautiful shade of gray and looks lovely between two of my purple coneflowers. It seems to like water but doesn't complain when it doesn't get any for a week or so. I would very definitely plant more of these. Just need a bigger yard.

Positive organic1 On Feb 26, 2008, organic1 from DFW Metroplex, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Pretty silvery light color evergreen adds nice contrast to the dark green leaves of rosemary. Great plant to keep a garden looking alive in a Texas winter!

Positive hanna1 On May 19, 2005, hanna1 from Castro Valley, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

Blooms August-September. Likes full sun. Soil should be average, well drained. Does not do well with wet feet. Leaves can be used in flavoring sauces, dried in Pot-pourri, oil is used in perfumes. It is a medicinal herb. Is also used to moth proof linens and wools. Seeds sown Spring & Fall in cold frame.

Positive pokerboy On Aug 18, 2004, pokerboy from Canberra
Australia (Zone 8b) wrote:

A very tough, drought tolerant perennial plant. Loves full sun. They can tolerate poor soil and salt as well as drought. Propagate by layering or cuttings on summer. pokerboy.

Positive docaly On Apr 4, 2004, docaly from Albuquerque, NM wrote:

Seems grey santolina (S. chamacyparissus) is the most drought-tolerant of all the santolinas. I used it in central NM and found it thrives and prefers lots of sun and very little watering. As a matter of fact, I lost a couple of them by overwatering. It does appreciate mixed soil with good drainage.

This is a beautiful plant which provides a nice backdrop in the informal garden with its mounding habit and pretty yellow buttons on spikes! Great smell, too! Used against river rock and other hardscape, is striking!

Am looking for an appropriate santolina for central FL (zone 9); perhaps s. incana; where it can tolerate higher humidity, yet still looks good in a xeri garden.

Positive ladyannne On Apr 1, 2004, ladyannne from Merced, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

A friend found this for me last year. It stayed green all winter in the greenhouse. Supposedly, this deters aphids and white flies, is best looking if trimmed to one foot, and is used for potpourri.

Positive careyjane On Feb 19, 2004, careyjane from Rabat
Morocco wrote:

Santolina is also useful in "mosaiculture" and contrasts well with the coppery foliage of Alternanthera.
I have also used it successfully in mass plantings.
The smell of its foliage on a hot summer's day when it is being watered is heavenly.

Positive chemist_1024 On Aug 29, 2003, chemist_1024 from Alice, TX wrote:

Great when used as ground cover here in south texas, fairly tough plant, aromatic with a dash of yellow coloring. I've had great success with this plant.

Positive patp On Jul 6, 2003, patp from Summerville, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

Not many plants are happy living in a concrete pot on a concrete driveway next to a brick wall between two steel garage doors during 90-100+ degrees fahrenheit summers and frequent dry spells. It tolerates neglect in the winter, plus the silvery color contrasts nicely with an equally forgiving purslane plant that re-seeds in the spring. Scrawny plant was purchased at a local garden center in July 2001.

Positive joanieofarc On Jun 20, 2003, joanieofarc wrote:

I've had terrific success with this plant in several gardens on our property. It thrives by the fish pond receiving full sun and plenty of moisture. It is smothered with small, very attractive, bright yellow "ball" flowers. It receives periodic trimmings: early spring, after flowering, late summer. This seems to keep it in a nice, rounded shape preventing it from "splitting" down the middle. The foliage is light & feathery, with silvery tones. This has been a great landscaping choice!

Positive horsepower On Apr 7, 2003, horsepower wrote:

This plant takes a licking and keeps ticking in North Texas, but NOT in full sun. In Texas, we grow this wonderful plant in part to full shade, AND it likes lots of water! It is beautiful from the end of March through Easter and the honey bees just love it! So, I would advise to grow it near something that needs pollinating!

Cindy near Dallas

Neutral jkom51 On Nov 23, 2002, jkom51 from Oakland, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

A nice plant, but it is VERY xeric (drought-tolerant) and too much water or rich soil will make the plant start to flop right down the middle as it grows. Since it tends to grow in a perfect circle this is very unattractive when it happens. Because it forms such a symmetrical shape I found it hard to work into the very casual, mixed-bed look I prefer. I've pruned the edges and the center is trying to fill in, but I'm still not very happy with how it looks.

Positive darius On Jul 27, 2002, darius from So.App.Mtns.
United States (Zone 5b) wrote:

This plant produces hundreds of small yellow ball-like flowers in the spring, above the foliage. It can get lanky but prunes and shapes easily. Fragrant. Clip flowers after blooming to neaten shrub.

Neutral Lilith On Aug 10, 2001, Lilith from Durham
United Kingdom (Zone 8a) wrote:

This evergreen shrub has fragrant, narrow, and crinkled silvery-grey leaves on mound-shaped plants about two feet high. Soft gray leaves give it its name, cotton lavender, also known as gray santolina. Keep the leaves clipped for formal knot gardens or edging, or let the yellow flowers emerge for extra color in an informal garden.

Like all gray herbs, santolina needs full sun and soil with excellent drainage. In spring, when the new growth emerges, cut off the barren stems and cut back healthy stems a little to encourage bushy new growth. In cold climates, give some extra protection with a mulch.


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

Phoenix, Arizona
Saint David, Arizona
Castro Valley, California
Knights Landing, California
Martinez, California
North Fork, California
Olancha, California
Pittsburg, California
Rancho Santa Margarita, California
San Leandro, California
Valley Center, California
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Hotchkiss, Colorado
East Haven, Connecticut
Newark, Delaware
Lecanto, Florida
Valparaiso, Florida
Marietta, Georgia
Champaign, Illinois
Lansing, Kansas
Lambertville, Michigan
Pahrump, Nevada
Rochester, New Hampshire
Las Cruces, New Mexico
Fairport, New York
Kingston, New York
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Rutherfordton, North Carolina
Akron, Ohio
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Seminole, Oklahoma
Albany, Oregon
Gold Hill, Oregon
Conway, South Carolina
Johns Island, South Carolina
Summerville, South Carolina
Alice, Texas
Austin, Texas
Blanco, Texas
Brownwood, Texas (2 reports)
Bulverde, Texas
Carrollton, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Hallsville, Texas
Hereford, Texas
Kerrville, Texas
La Vernia, Texas
Midland, Texas
Pampa, Texas
San Antonio, Texas (2 reports)
Lexington, Virginia
Palmyra, Virginia
Bay Center, Washington
Concrete, Washington

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