Santolina chamaecyparissus, known in cultivation as Lavender cotton or Cotton lavender, is a dwarf evergreen shrub and a one-of-a-kind ornamental flowering plant.
Covered in numerous aromatic, grey-green leaves, this plant produces masses of yellow, button-like flowerheads during the summer.
Lavender cotton is a perfect ornamental that rewards gardeners with its absolutely gorgeous appearance and easy-going nature.
Its exquisite, silvery foliage combined with the bright yellow, button-like blossoms will surely impress you as this plant is one of a kind. And when you find out how low the demands of this plant are, you will surely understand why it is a must-have and a perfect addition to any garden.
Lavender cotton is valued by gardeners worldwide as it makes a great groundcover or edging plant that will thrive in hot, sunny, well-drained locations. Once established, plants can tolerate dry and poor soils. Its compact shape can be maintained by cutting back in spring
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Lavender cotton is a member of the well-known Asteraceae family, so it is related to many popular ornamentals and originates from the central and western Mediterranean regions.
This plant thrives in calcareous soils of dry grounds, rocks, or stony banks. It is a highly-appreciated ground cover in various areas worldwide, especially in gardens that provide it with sunny, hot, and well-drained environments.
Want to know more about the unique-looking Lavender cotton? Keep reading our guide!
About Lavender Cotton
- Lavender cotton has numerous exciting cultivars that you can choose from. Some of the most popular ones are ‘Pretty Carol’, ‘Nana’, ‘Weston’, ‘Edward Bowels’, ‘Lemon Queen’, ‘Morning Mist’, ‘Primrose Gem’, and ‘Sulphurea’.
- The cultivar S. chamaecyparissus ‘Nana’, a dwarf form of the main species, has gained the most-known Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.
- Lavender cotton is a super effective fumigant. The aromatic leaves of the Lavender cotton are common flavouring ingredients in sauces, broths, grain dishes, or other recipes. Moreover, people use this plant often in cosmetics as a tonic.
- This herbaceous plant plays its part in the medical world. Although it is not a popular medicinal plant, it has been used as a treatment for menstrual problems, poor digestion, and also as a vermifuge for children.
- Its leaves and flowering tops have disinfectant, stimulant, emmenagogue, antispasmodic, and vermifuge properties. Some folks harvest the leaves and flower tops in the summer, then dry them for later use.
- The Lavender cotton can immediately ease the pain of insect stings or bites. When you apply it to surface wounds, this plant will generally hasten the healing process through a faster formation of scar tissue. However, the Lavender cotton leaves may cause a severe rash on sensitive skin.
- The Lavender cotton aromatic leaves can be strewn amongst clothes to repel moths and other unwanted insects. This plant has been used as an insect repellant for decades, and it is very effective against cabbage moths.
- Thanks to their aromatic properties, the dried leaves of Lavender cotton can be used in potpourri and essential oil obtained from leaves or flowers is used in the perfume industry.
- Lavender cotton is a favourite of Mediterranean gardens but can make for a superb addition to rock gardens, edging plantings, beds, borders, hedges, screens, cottage gardens, informal gardens, and woodland gardens too.
- Lavender cotton will make an attractive low formal hedge and it is often grown as an edging plan. It is tolerant of shearinga and in less exposed location, this versatile plant can be trimmed in the autumn. When planting Lavender cotton, it is recommended to space the plants approximately 60 cm apart.
- Thanks to its luxurious appearance, Lavender cotton will bring the ornamental potential of your garden to maximum levels if you plant it near other species. The companions include Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’, California Poppy, Lamb’s Ears, Blue Fescue, Lavender, Ornamental Onion, and Mexican Feather Grass. Some gardeners like to plant Lavender cotton alongside rose bushes as it is thought that these plants make great companions.
Lavender Cotton Features: An Overview
- The Lavender cotton belongs to the Santolina genus which contains exactly 19 species of dwarf, aromatic evergreen shrubs. Other interesting Santolina species in cultivation as ornamental plants are S. impressa, S. pinnata, and S. rosmarinifolia.
- This plant is a small-growing evergreen shrub. Depending on the cultivar, it can reach up to 24 inches (60 cm) in height and about 36 inches (90 cm) in width.
- Lavender cotton usually grows in dense mounds. Its foliage consists of many fine, pinnately dissected, and silvery green-grey leaves that are also very aromatic.
- During the summer months, the Lavender cotton produces masses of button-like, bright yellow flower heads. They show up on slender stems that grow much taller than the foliage.
- The disc florets of the Lavender cotton are tubular and feature no ray florets. This is not an issue at all, as the main attraction of this plant is none other than its spectacular foliage.
Growing Lavender Cotton
Lavender cotton will have the time of its life in a site where it can receive lots of full sunlight. This plant needs at least six hours of direct light to keep its foliage elegant throughout the year. Make sure you choose an outdoor spot where it will not stay in the shadow of other nearby companions. Indoors, place your Lavender cotton in front of a south or east-facing window.
This shrubby fellow is winter-hardy in the USDA zones 6 to 9. It can withstand cold temperatures that drop to 0 °F (-18 °C). Still, if you have concerns regarding its frost tolerance, you can ensure that your Lavender cotton survives with minimal effort. When the autumn comes, adding a layer of mulch around your plant will ensure it overwinters nicely without any damage.
Lavender cotton is an excellent natural insect repellant, so you will not have problems with pest infestations while growing it. And if you worry about fungal diseases, don’t! You can always amend your plant’s soil with sand, gravel, or grit to increase the general drainage and, of course, keep the fungal issues away.
- Beautiful -- Once established, this beautiful perennial herb is drought tolerant. Frequently used as a stunning addition to borders and perennial gardens. Fragrant flowers and foliage have many culinary and household uses. Minimum of 100 mg per packet.
- Joyful Perennial; Lavender is a perennial and once established will add beauty and joy to your herb garden and landscape beds for years to come.
- Wonderful Scent Fresh or Dried -- The smell of lavender is wonderful and calming. Growing your own will give you a bountiful harvest to enjoy outside in the garden and inside your home.
- Instructions -- Lavender is naturally slow to germinate. Improve the odds by cold stratifying the seed. Sprinkle seed onto a wet paper towel, fold the towel, and place it in a plastic bag. Put the bag in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 weeks. After that, sow the seed, just barely covering with soil. Provide plenty of light and warmth, and ensure the soil stays moist. If these seeds don’t germinate, we will happily make it “Right” for you.
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Planting Lavender Cotton
Lavender cotton is not picky at all when it comes to its growing medium. This plant does well in any type of soil including chalk, loam, and sand. However, it will need a substrate that comes along with very sharp drainage to prevent fungal issues to occur with time. Lavender cotton is also super easygoing regarding the soil pH.
The Lavender cotton prefers those poor, rocky soils that can mimic the ones from its native Mediterranean area. Because of this, you will not need to fertilize your plant to improve its performance. This feature contributes to the very low-maintenance nature of Lavender cotton.
The only thing this plant is very particular about is pruning, so you will have to pay some extra attention to this part of its caring routine. Experienced gardeners recommend pruning lavender cotton twice a year to prevent your plants from becoming leggy and from producing too many bare, woody stems.
In general, unpruned Lavender cotton tends to become sparse and woody in the centre. If you are growing this plant in less exposed areas, you can trim it lightly in the autumn. Otherwise, the best alternative would be to cut your Lavender cotton back in early spring.
This process is a bit tricky because it can make you miss out on the ideal time to cut your plant back. If you are doing this too late, chances are that your Lavender cotton will not produce flowers that season. In case you grow this buddy mainly for its marvellous foliage, however, this is not an issue for you at all! You can trim your Lavender cotton anytime during the summer months to maintain its shape and give it a well-groomed look.
Either way, to prevent your Lavender cotton from getting leggy, make sure you trim it back to 6 inches (15 cm) once every two or three years. This will also help you keep the plant healthy and it will surely reward you back with the most attractive foliage out there.
Watering Lavender Cotton
Another part of the low-demanding picture of Lavender cotton is its ability to thrive with little to no water. With this plant around, the only time when you will have to keep an eye on moisture will be in its first growing season. During this period, the Lavender cotton will benefit from weekly waterings with about one inch (2.5 cm) of water.
Once the Lavender cotton has settled in its new environment, it becomes fairly tolerant of drought for long periods. This is a common feature of shrubs and you have nothing to do but enjoy it and the more free time it gives you.
Once established, this shrub will do just fine only with the water received from rainfalls. If you live in a location with seldom rainfalls, you can intervene by spoiling your Lavender cotton with a nice drink once every two weeks or so.
Propagating Lavender Cotton
If you dream about more bushy Lavender cotton plants in your collection, you can easily achieve this by propagating the ones you already have. The most effective way to do this is through stem cuttings and you will see the time and effort required for this are at minimum levels.
To propagate your Lavender cotton using stem cutting, you must first wait for the spring to come along. When this happens, look for those stems representing new growth, as these particular ones will root better.
Take cuttings of about 2.5 inches (6-7 cm) in length and strip away about 2/3 of their foliage, allowing the top ones to remain intact.
Next, fill a container with a mix of 10% peat moss and 90% perlite for nice moisture-retaining and good air circulation. It is best to have a pot for each Lavender cotton stem cutting to provide them with enough space for root development. Water the mixture well, then plant the cuttings in their individual containers.
Place the pots in a sheltered spot where they can receive plenty of warmth and only bright, indirect light. You should water the cuttings regularly to keep their substrate damp, but avoid over-watering by giving them drinks only when the mix is dry. With proper care, the Lavender cotton cuttings will strike roots in 2-3 months.
With its fabulous appearance and low-demanding, friendly style, Lavender cotton has all it takes to earn a spot in your plant family. Lavender cotton has many interesting uses, so growing and caring for this plant will never become boring.
You can harvest its aromatic leaves and flowers and place them in your drawers to repel moths, or you can use them as potpourri. You can gift Lavender cotton to your friends and family and they will surely appreciate this plant because growing Lavender cotton, is easy both indoors and outdoors.
So, if you decide to add shrubby beauty to your plant collection, come back anytime to share your experience with us! And if you already own Lavender cotton, we are more than excited to find out how your journey is going!