Silver-Foliaged Plants

Silver-foliaged plants are mainly planted because of their functionality – they are mostly heat and drought tolerant due to hairy or waxy leaf surfaces and their ability to reflect sunlight and prevent water loss. But there is another reason to fill your garden with a lot of silver-foliaged and grey leaved plants and to combine them with light yellow, cream and white flowers – fashion!

Extend the time you spend in your garden by planting a ‘moonlight’ look with plants that don’t disappear in the dark, but rather come to the forefront. We picked out some stalwart silver-foliaged plants to create that magical, mystical atmosphere by the light of the full moon.

Lavandula stoechas ‘Silver Anouk’

  • Outstanding silver-white foliage with a blue cast.
  • Fragrant dark violet flowers topped with lavender bracts or petals in spring – reblooming in other seasons.
  • Sprightly upright growth habit (46cm x 36cm).
  • Use in borders, as a low hedge or plant your ‘Silver Anouk’ in a pot.

READ MORE: Learn more about lavender

Lychnis coronaria (rose campion)

  • Perennial or biennial grown for both its silvery-grey velvety leaves and a profusion of flowers in spring and summer.
  • Clump-forming with ovate, densely woolly leaves.
  • Perfect for mass planting in a border.
  • Size approximately 80cm x 45cm.

Podalyria sericea (silver sweet pea bush)

  • Very decorative but unfortunately vulnerable indigenous shrub.
  • The soft evergreen, silky, silver-grey foliage gives the whole plant a shiny lustre.
  • Pretty pink pea-like flowers appear in winter and are followed by swollen velvety seed pods.
  • Growth habit is rounded and neat (1m x 1m).

Teucrium fruticans (tree germander)

  • A species of spring- and summer-flowering plant in the mint family, Lamiaceae, native to the western and central Mediterranean.
  • Growing to 1m tall by 4m wide with arching velvety white shoots, glossy aromatic leaves and pale blue flowers in summer.
  • Visually, a cooling backdrop in a mixed border.
  • Responds very well to pruning and can be trained into a hedge.
  • Frost and wind hardy.

Artemisia afra (wild wormwood)

  • Indigenous evergreen perennial named after the Greek goddess Artemis.
  • Creates a striking and soft display between other plants or in bold groups in the background of a mixed border.
  • Multi-stemmed, covered in silky hairs and lush silvery-greyish-green fern-like leaves.
  • Very aromatic and a popular medicinal plant.
  • Height variable between 60cm – 2m.

Helichrysum petiolare (silver bush everlasting)

  • Attractive indigenous evergreen scrambler or groundcover, and also a popular medicinal plant.
  • Round leaves are covered in silver-grey hairs that give them a velvety touch and look.
  • Many small flower heads with tiny yellow honey-scented flowers surrounded by cream papery bracts appear in spring.
  • Size approximately 50cm – 1m x 1m.

Dichondra ‘Silver falls’

  • A ‘dramatic’ groundcover with a cascading habit.
  • Thin stems are sparsely clothed in round silvery-white leaves, about 1cm in diameter, and hang down like drapes or curtains from pots and hanging baskets, looking almost like strings of silver beads.
  • It can also be grown as a contrasting, carpet-like groundcover in full sun.
  • Cold resistant, but has also proved successful in the sub-tropics.

Convolvulus cneorum (bush morning glory)

  • Dwarf, compact shrub with silky silver leaves that have an iridescent sheen.
  • White, tubular, morning glory-like flowers emerge from pink buds during spring and early summer.
  • Loves cool climates and hates humidity.
  • Size 60cm x 90cm.

Cerastium tomentosum (snow-in-summer)

  • Vigorous, matting groundcover with slender silver-grey leaves.
  • Masses of small white flowers in spring and summer.
  • Height 10cm, with an indefinite spread.
  • Very cold hardy.

Calocephalus brownii (cushion or silver bush)

  • Very striking silver to white colour in the landscape.
  • Compact, naturally round shrub resembling a shimmering silver ball about 1m high.
  • Wiry stems grow outward with soft scale-like leaves staying close to the stems.
  • Small button-like yellow flower heads appear in spring and summer.
  • Evergreen and extremely tolerant to salt spray, wind, drought and frost.
  • Perfect for coastal gardens with poor, sandy soil.

Stachys byzantina (lamb’s ears)

  • Mat-forming groundcover with soft and woolly oblong silver leaves.
  • The purple flowers appearing in summer should actually be removed to keep the foliage lush.
  • Perfect on the foreground of borders.
  • Extremely hardy.

READ MORE: Stachys and many other annuals and perennials that make good companion plants for roses

Einadia hastata (salt bush)

  • Widely used as an evergreen filler plant and for hedging.
  • The beautiful silvery-grey foliage, which can sometimes turn a rusty shade of red, and white stems always attract the eye, especially if a little rain has fallen and new growth is produced.
  • This is a fast grower and a hardy coastal plant that can be pruned into virtually any formal shape.
  • Mature size is about 1.5m x 2m.

Senecio cineraria ‘Silver Dust’ (dusty miller)

  • Low-growing shrub with silver-grey to almost white leaves that have a felty texture.
  • The lace-like leaves are covered with very fine hairs that give them a fuzzy appearance.
  • Perennial shrub that is mostly used as an annual in summer gardens.
  • Heat and drought tolerant.
  • It likes full sun and will reach a size of 25 x 25cm.
  • In summer, loose flower-heads with insignificant yellow flowers will appear. Cut them off to keep the compact plant’s neat shape.

Plectranthus argentatius (silver spurflower)

  • Native to Australia
  • Evergreen perennial with slightly fleshy, dark grey leaves covered in soft silvery hairs.
  • Has a spreading growth habit with a mature size of 1.2 x 1m.
  • Likes full shade and part shade. It will tolerate sun as long as it’s not in a baking-hot position.
  • Produces dainty sprays of pale blue to white flowers in summer. Pinch off the flowers if it is being grown for the foliage.

Silver foliage in a nutshell

  • The colour silver compliments any other colour in the garden and looks good next to anything.
  • It is an elegant colour supplying coolness and toning down the garden.
  • Most silver-foliaged plants are sun loving and heat tolerant.
  • All silver plants love well-draining and even poor soil. In some cases even alkaline soil is preferred.
  • Many (or most) are cold hardy and frost hardy.
The Gardener