Grey and silver leaf plants add an extra dimension to any garden. They work well as complementary options or as focal points and many of their textures make them a wonderful addition. It’s quite possible to create a garden solely from silver plants although most gardeners tend to integrate them into their current plantings.
If you’re looking for a few ideas for your garden here are 16 plants that should fit comfortably into your landscape.
16 Silver Leaf Plants to Experiment with
1. Cushion Bush – Leucophyta brownii
The cushion bush is a native of Western Australia and is a wonderful option if you’re desiring some silver foliage plants in your garden. It’s low maintenance, doesn’t require much water and flowers little pom-pom blooms profusely for many months. This shrub only grows to about 1m (h) x 80cm (w).
2. Chalk dudleya – Dudleya pulverulenta
Chalk dudleya is a beautiful grey succulent originating from the Mediterranean region. Like most silver plants, dudleyas prefer full-sun and minimal watering. An added bonus of the grey foliage is its red flowers which it sports in spring.
3. Dusty Miller – Senecio cineraria
A common annual, sometimes grown as a perennial in warmer climates, Dusty Miller has soft grey foliage with yellow flowers in spring. Even when the blooms die down to a rusty brown these plants still look superb and offer a great option as a silver plant.
4. Lamb’s ear – Stachys byzantina
Another common option for the silver garden is Lamb’s Ears. This wonderful groundcover can fill a space of 1m wide within a season and in some parts are classed as an invasive species. Their soft-textured leaves resemble lamb’s ears, hence the common name.
5. Sandhill Sage – Artemisia pycnocephala
A great option if you’re looking for some mounding silver plants, Sandhill sage looks great in its compact form. It’s a low grower, not exceeding 30cm, and will grow well in coastal areas. There are many green-grey sages but this one offers a true silver-grey alternative.
6. Curry Plant – Helichrysum italicum
Its common name may give the illusion that this plant is where “curry” is harvested from but be assured this is not the case. This is a plant that when its silver foliage is rubbed releases the aroma of curry.
It is still useful for edible purposes and can be added to sauces and soups as a last minute addition. Apart from the culinary aspect of this plant, it adds a wonderful silver foliage to your garden.
7. Spotted Emu Bush – Eremophila maculata
Another drought-tolerant Australian native, Eremophila maculata is a shrubbing perennial with gorgeous grey foliage and dainty purple blooms in late winter. Emu bushes can grow in very sandy soils to a height of 1.5-2m (h) and 1m (w).
8. Kalanchoe – Kalanchoe rhombopilosa
Kalanchoes are such a wonderfully diverse group of succulents with great architectural forms and very vivid colours. Kalanchoe rhombopilosa is no different and the distinctly dark marbling adds another colour to this awesome grey plant.
Kalanchoes don’t require much water and can grow in most frost-free regions.
9. Silver Ruffles – Cotyledon undulata
Another low-growing succulent species is the Cotyledon family. This silver foliage plant can grow upwards to 1/2 metre but will mostly grow along the ground. They store water for later use and offer a very diverse texture to any garden.
10. Ashby’s Wattle – Acacia ashbyae
A glorious form of Acacia that has weeping fronds of silver-grey amassing orange blossoms at the end of winter. Most silver foliage plants have erect growing habits so this species of plant offers something very different for the home gardener.
It’s another West Australian native that grows to 2m high, loves full-sun and grows in very sandy or rocky soil.
11. Silver Princess – Eucalyptus caesia
While grey foliage plants are wonderful in the garden it’s a great thing to find a silver tree to add some silver height to the landscape. It also has a weeping habit and looks quite scraggly in a grove of E. caesia’s but as a focus plant looks incredible.
It’s an Australian native, originating in West Australia, that can grow up to 15m high but usually only makes it to 10m.
12. Cotton Lavender – Santolina rosmarinifolia
Originating from the south of Europe, cotton lavender is another wonderful silver specimen. When it’s not flowering profusely with yellow buttons this grey plant shrubs quite well. It’s a perennial that appreciates frost-free regions and grows to about 60cm (h) with a 1m (w) spread.
Also see its close relative: Santolina chamaecyparissus
13. Silver Tree – Leucadendron argenteum
If you’ve ever come across one of these South African natives growing in a garden then you’ve probably suffered some form of plant jealousy. The Silver Tree, as it is commonly known, grows upright with a very thin growing width.
It is an endangered species in its natural habitat but there are many homeowners in Mediterranean regions who grow these. If you’re looking for a tall, columnar silver plant then this might be the option you’re after.
14. French lavender – Lavandula stoechas
Who can forget the lavender family when it comes to silver foliage plants! Many of the derivations of lavender offer silver foliage and come in compact, shrubbing and rambling forms.
These plants grow best where most of the other grey plants grow but are also quite frost-tolerant. They’re not as water-conserving as many of their silver counterparts but they can still last well in a drought.
15. Red Carnation – Dianthus caryophyllus
With all the wonderful options now available in silver plants one can easily overlook the “tried and true” stayers of the home garden. No other plant has lasted the test of time than the humble carnation and while they are mainly prized for their blooms they can also be treasured for the grey foliage they offer.
Most plants that offer great blooms have fairly ordinary foliage but this isn’t the case with this plant and it can feature in most landscapes.
16. Blue Chalk Sticks – Curio repens (syn. Senecio serpens)
This is quite a different senecio to the one mentioned already at #3. This is Senecio serpens and is really another succulent that hugs the ground. It doesn’t tolerate frost and prefers a full-sun aspect growing to about 60cm wide. It does produce blooms in spring but they are fairly insignificant.
And there you have it – 16 more options to add some silver leaf plants into the garden and add another dimension. Happy gardening.