What is the dusty miller plant? The botanical name Senecio cineraria, the plant originates from the arid regions of the Mediterranean and is a member of the Asteraceae family.
It is also known as Silver Ragwort or Jacobaea Maritime. However, the scientific name is often either misspelled as “cenecio cineraria” or mistaken for Centaurea cineraria.
Plants grow as an evergreen perennials in USDA Hardiness Zones 8-11 and as annual bedding plants in the cooler zones.
The silvery grayish-green color to nearly white foliage carries a soft felt-like texture. The shallow, deeply notched cut leaves appear as fern fronds.
Although best known for its striking foliage, dusty miller produces loose clusters of one to one-and-a-half-inch mustard yellow flowers in summer.
Senecio Cineraria Quick Care Tips
- Botanical Name: Senecio Cineraria
- Common Name(s): Dusty Miller, Silver ragwort
- Synonyms: Jacobaea maritima, Cineraria maritima
- Pronunciation: suh-nee-see-ow si-nr-eh-ree-uh
- Family & Origin: Asteraceae family, native to the Mediterranean region
- Growability: Easy to grow
- Grow Zone: USDA zones 8-11
- Size: 2 feet tall and wide
- Flowering: Produces mustard yellow flowers in summer
- Light: Full sun to partial shade
- Humidity: Tolerates low humidity
- Temperature: Prefers between 50° and 65° degrees Fahrenheit
- Soil: Well-draining soil
- Water: Allow soil to dry out slightly between watering
- Fertilizer: Fertilize with general-purpose, slow-release fertilizer during early spring
- Pests & Diseases: Can be susceptible to aphids, thrips, whiteflies, and spider mites. Fungal issues like mildews, root rot, and common rust
- Propagation: Propagate through softwood cuttings or seeds
- Plant Uses: Used as a border plant, in containers, or as a ground cover. Its silvery foliage adds contrast and texture to gardens and floral arrangements.
Read on to learn more about dusty miller care and other useful information about this plant.
How To Care For Dusty Miller Plants?
Grow Dusty Miller in full sun, but plants will also tolerate light or partial shade during the day’s heat.
Space plants at 9″ -12″ inches apart in well-drained soil and water moderately until well established. They are drought-tolerant, making them an excellent addition to annual garden containers.
It also temperatures prefers between 50° and 65° degrees Fahrenheit.
Dusty miller cineraria plants tolerate heat, poor soil conditions, low humidity, and salt air. Plant in a hole roughly two times the width of the container.
Fertilizing Dusty Miller Plants
Known as a light feeder dusty miller if applying too much fertilizer can lead to weak, leggy plants.
Sprinkle 2 to 3 teaspoons of dry fertilizer around each Senecio cineraria plant and water deeply to distribute fertilizer evenly around the roots.
Does Mulching Work For Silver Dust Plant?
A layer of natural mulch helps prevent the growth of weeds. It also moderates the soil temperature and helps conserve moisture around the roots of plants.
A layer of grass clippings also proves as a useful mulch. However, limit the layer to 1 to 2 inches to avoid heat build-up.
Dusty Miller Propagation And Pruning
When performing dusty miller plant care, prune when they become leggy during the growing season.
Cut them back to half their size, and the plant will quickly fill out again.
When growing a dusty miller perennial, cut plants back to 3″ to 4″ inches during early spring as new growth emerges. Most gardeners remove the flowers to divert energy to the foliage.
Dusty miller plants propagate easily from softwood cuttings taken during summer.
Start the tiny seeds of dusty miller indoors ten weeks before the date of the last killing frost. The seeds need light to germinate. Therefore when planting, do not cover them with soil.
Plant seeds on a moist soil surface and maintain a temperature of 65° – 75° degrees Fahrenheit. Germination takes 10-15 days. After 20-25 days, transplant germinated seedlings into small pots.
Directly seed in flower gardens and sow two to three weeks before the last frost.
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Insects And Diseases
Dusty millers find themselves resistant to most diseases and pests. However, they may be occasionally attacked by aphids, thrips, whiteflies, and spider mites.
Fungal issues such as mildews, root rot, and common rust can also commonly occur.
In case they do occur, treat plants early with organic neem oil for plants or chemical fungicides.
Uses For Dusty Miller
Dusty Miller excels when planted as garden borders but also planted as individual specimens. The plant becomes the “Star of the Show” in a moonlight-themed garden.
The branches air dry well for use in cut flower arrangements as an interesting ornamental component where it keeps its silver color even when dry. 
Tips And Warning
Water thoroughly in the case of wilting. At the same time, do not over-water as this may lead to root rot. If planted in containers, make sure containers can drain properly.
Handle dusty miller with care:
- The sap it produces is toxic
- Sap can cause irritation to the skin and eyes
- Use gloves when pruning
- Ingesting leaves can cause liver damage.
Dusty Miller Varieties
Silver Dust Plants – The dusty miller silver dust variety has finely cut silvery-white foliage that grows 12″ -18″ inches tall. Often planted with annuals in flower beds and containers. It’s also used in xeriscapes.
Silver Lace – This moderately dwarf variety grows 6 to 8 inches in height, with finely cut lacy silver foliage and compact growth, maintaining a rounded shape. A very delicate-looking variety.
Cirrus – A bolder-looking variety with wider and less finely cut leaves. Grows to 6 to 8 inches tall and is used as a ground cover.