Growing Guide
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Lavender Cotton

Herbaceous Perennial Flower, Herb, Ground Cover

Santolina chamaecyperissus
Asteraceae Family
Synonym: Santolina incana

Valued for its silver-gray foliage, compact growth habit and bright yellow flowers, this shrubby evergreen is used often as a clipped, low formal hedge, edging, and groundcover. Only hardy to Zone 6.

Site Characteristics
  • full sun

Soil conditions:

  • tolerates droughty soil
  • requires well-drained soil
  • tolerates low fertility

Hardiness zones:

  • 6 to 8

Special locations:

  • rock gardens
Plant Traits

Lifecycle: perennial

Evergreen sub-shrub.

Ease-of-care: easy

Height: 1 to 2.5 feet

Spread: 1 to 3 feet

Bloom time:

  • mid-summer
  • late summer

Flower color: yellow

Foliage color:

  • gray-green
  • other

Mostly silver gray but some varieties have only gray to green foliage.

Foliage texture: fine

Shape: upright

Shape in flower: same as above

Sparse solitary rayless yellow flowerheads rise above the foliage.

Special Considerations
  • salt
Special characteristics:
  • non-aggressive
  • non-invasive
  • not native to North America - Native to Spain to Dalmatia, Yugoslavia and northern Africa.
  • evergreen - Semi-evergreen to nearly evergreen.
  • fragrant - Flowers have a fairly unpleasant scent. Bruised leaves are pleasantly camphor- and resinous-scented.

Special uses:
Growing Information
How to plant:

Propagate by seed, cuttings, layering, division or separation - Layering is the easiest method of propagation. Seeds are slow to germinate but can be sown inside. The seedlings should be potted and held inside for the first winter and then planted out the next spring or early summer.

Take 3- to 4-inch, half-ripe stem-tip cuttings in summer. They can be planted out directly in the garden in July or August and should be well-rooted by winter.

Divide plants in spring or fall. Large divisions can be planted out directly but smaller divisions are best grown in a cold frame for their first winter.

Maintenance and care:
Plants are very tolerant of shearing at the proper time. If grown in less exposed areas they can be lightly trimmed in the fall, otherwise they must be cut back in early spring.

If cut back too late in the spring plants will not flower that season. But some don't care for the flowers and trim plants through summer to maintain a well-groomed appearance.

To prevent plants from getting leggy, trim back to 6 inches every 2 or 3 years.

Do not prune hard in late summer or fall as plants need time to harden off for winter.

Mulch to protect plants overwinter.

Lavender cotton can be grown as a ground cover and makes a good companion plant for roses.

More growing information: How to Grow Perennials

Crown rot
Pythhium wilt

Diseases are rarely a problem with good drainage and air circulation. Plants in this genus are noteably resistant to honey fungus.

Santolina chamaecyparissus nana (or perhaps compacta) has a more pungent aroma than the straight species.

'Weston' is a dwarf form that grows less than 1 foot tall. The silvery foliage is more ornamental than the species and has a strong pungent scent.

'Edward Bowles' has gray-green leaves and creamy-yellow flowers.

'Lemon Queen' has grows 2 feet tall, has green leaves and pale yellow flowers.

'Morning Mist' grows 15 inches tall, has grayish-waxy green leaves, bears yellow flowers, and tolerates wet, compact soils.

'Pretty Carrol' grows 16 inches tall, has gray leaves and bears yellow flowers.

'Primrose Gem' has green leaves and pale yellow flowers.

'Sulphurea' has gray-green foliage and pale primrose yellow flowers.