Tuesday, December 8, 2009


People notice santolina—it’s a pretty plant (it's the gray plant in this knot garden at Cloverleaf.) The strong camphor aroma indicates its use as an insect repellent, alongside other herbs like wormwood, rue and pennyroyal. But it’s an equally attractive garden plant. Both forms—gray and green—have attractive foliage and small yellow button flowers in the spring. Gray santolina has sparkly, textural foliage and green has narrow needlelike leaves.

Green is taller and faster growing, while gray is a broader plant. Both develop woody stems, do not die back in winter and love hot, dry weather. Plant in full sun (6-8 hours) and really well-drained soil—raised beds, sunny slopes or soil amended with compost and sand. After spring flowering, the foliage is attractive throughout the season. I particularly like gray santolina with deep toned flowers of late spring and summer.

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