by Jennifer Poindexter
Santolina is a plant many gardeners aren’t familiar with. If you’re wondering if this is the right plant for you, begin by asking yourself a few questions. Do you love plants which thrive off neglect? Are you looking for a gorgeous herb that won’t require a ton of care from you?
If you answered yes, you’re in the right place. I’m a huge fan of plants that don’t need lots of extra care because, with so many other things needing my attention, I appreciate anything that produces beauty without needing much in return.
Regardless of your planting zone, santolina could be the plant you’ve been searching for. It’s an evergreen plant with silver foliage which produces vibrant yellow blooms. When life is hectic, but you still need gorgeous landscaping, add santolina to your yard or garden. Here’s what you should know to grow this flower around your home.
Growing Conditions for Santolina
Santolina is an unusual but gorgeous plant. It grows in large mounds, has silver foliage, and maintains this color year-round.
During the warmer portions of the year, the plant produces gorgeous yellow flowers. This sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Fortunately, the plant is hardy in planting zones 6 through 9. Though, it can be grown as an annual in any of the other planting zones.
The main thing to consider is that santolina prefers hot and dry conditions. Therefore, it seems to grow better in planting zones with less humidity.
If growing santolina in a warmer climate, try to plant it where it receives partial sunlight. This can help offset the humidity. Yet, if you’re growing santolina in a lower planting zone, provide full sun. This plant also enjoys well-draining, loamy soil.
This allows the plant to receive moisture while also ensuring the roots aren’t left in a soggy state. If you can provide the right amount of sun, heat, and soil, santolina could thrive under your care.
How to Plant Santolina
There are multiple ways to grow santolina. Check out these different methods and see which might work the best for you. Our first method for growing santolina is from seed. This will work best if you’re starting the plant in a cold frame or greenhouse.
You should plant the seeds, under protection, during the spring or fall. Plant the seeds ¼ to a ½ inch deep.
Once the seeds sprout, thin them to where there’s three feet of space between each plant and each row. The mounds of this flower can grow to be as tall as two feet and as wide as three feet.
The next method to growing santolina is to propagate. This flower is easily propagated from a cutting of another mature plant.
During the fall, remove a four-inch cutting from a mature santolina plant. Place the cutting in loamy soil and water it regularly through the fall and winter months. You must provide a warm area for the plant to grow.
Over time, the plant will form roots. When summer arrives, you can transplant the new santolina plant within your landscape as long as the growing conditions are accurate.
The final method for growing santolina is by layering. If you already have santolina plants growing around your home, insert a branch into the soil. The plant will form roots in the dirt. Therefore, forming a new plant. When the plant is large enough, you can cut it away from the original santolina plant.
If you’d like to move your new santolina plant, ensure you dig up the entire root system prior to transplanting in its new location.
These are a few ways you can grow santolina around your home or garden. Depending upon whether you are already growing this plant, or have access to a mature version of this plant, will determine which methods work best for you.
Caring for Santolina
Are you ready for a wonderful surprise? I’ve already shared how santolina seems to thrive off neglect. You’re getting ready to figure out how little care this plant actually needs from you. It’s amazing!
When caring for santolina, you only need to water and prune. You won’t need to fertilize your plant because it can thrive in rocky and poor soil. Santolina should only be watered in times of drought. It doesn’t need to be deep watered and should actually be watered as little as possible. Too much water can kill the plant.
Therefore, if your plant receives some rain, it should be enough. Yet, if you’re in a time of severe drought, and your plant appears to be stressed, add a little water to carry it through.
The last thing your plant needs from you is pruning. This is a big-ticket item when caring for santolina. Where the plant mounds, it needs to be pruned heavily during the winter months.
If you don’t create more breathing room for the plant, the center will die. When this happens, you must remove the entire herb and start fresh again.
By providing this basic care to your santolina plants, you could enjoy their beauty for years to come. Always remember, these plants are more susceptible to receiving too much care than receiving too little.
Garden Pests and Diseases Which Impact Santolina
Are you ready for another neat fact about santolina? They rarely have any issues with pests or diseases. The only way disease, typically, strikes this plant is if you don’t do something right as their caregiver.
How can you mess up and inflict disease upon this plant? You can plant santolina in the wrong growing conditions.
If they aren’t provided adequate sunlight, well-draining soil, are overwatered, or planted too closely together, your plants could develop fungal issues.
When this occurs, you should correct the growing conditions immediately to give your plants the greatest chance of bouncing back.
The idea is to keep the roots from living in soggy conditions. Santolina also needs airflow around it. By creating enough space between the plants, and pruning accurately, you should be able to create enough room for air to move around them.
Fungicides might also prove helpful. It should be used in addition to correcting the missteps, in the growing conditions, for this plant.
If you start santolina on the right foot, you should be able to avoid most issues when growing this herb.
How to Harvest Santolina
Santolina is an herb. Though, it isn’t typically used for culinary purposes. Most people use it for potpourri.
This shouldn’t be surprising as the plant is commonly called “cotton lavender.” This should give you an idea of how fresh the herb smells.
You could also use it as an addition to a bouquet of flowers for added color and scent. This idea isn’t too far of a stretch as santolina is part of the aster family and related to sunflowers. However you choose to use this herb, wait until the plant is in bloom.
Use scissors to cut the blooms and stems away from the plant’s base. You can either dry the herb or use fresh, depending upon your purpose for the harvest.
When I tell you that santolina is one of the easiest plants to grow, it seriously is. The plant seems to thrive off neglect, can handle poor quality soil, but does require an adequate dose of sunlight. Provide these items, and you should be able to avoid attracting pests and diseases to your flowers. Not to mention, you get year-round beauty from this unique herb.
What are you waiting for? Start considering how you can add this flower to your landscape as soon as possible.