Calocephalus brownii, otherwise known as the ‘Silver bush’ or ‘Cushion bush’, is a species of flowering evergreen shrubs in the Asteraceae family. These plants can also be found in nurseries and markets under their botanical synonym Leucophyta brownii.
Silver bushes are commonly cultivated in Australia where they are endemic. They mostly occur in coastal regions, such as the southern coast of Australia and proximity islands, and grow on the exposed areas of dunes and cliffs.
With their snowy appearance and a high tolerance of extreme environmental conditions, these adorable shrubs have become very popular ornamental houseplants worldwide. They are usually grown outdoors, but some gardeners prefer their alluring presence in their home. Their silvery foliage works perfectly in various Christmas arrangements and landscape decorations along with Poinsettia, red roses, tiny fir branches, or pine cones.
If you are looking for a beautiful decorative plant to surprise your guests with on Christmas Day, you should definitely buy a silver bush.
About Silver Bush
- These shrubs are the only species in the Leucophyta genus, so it’s safe to say that they’re pretty unique. They were first described in 1818 by a Scottish botanist named Robert Brown.
- Besides the popular Australian cultivar, there is another dwarf form that is grown as an ornamental houseplant. This shrub is commonly known as the Silver Nugget and comes from Tasmania.
- For optimal results, Silver bushes must be planted in a location with full sunlight in autumn or winter. They perform well in any type of container.
- ‘Silver bush’ plants love warm temperatures, but they can also be quite tolerant of freezing conditions.
- Generally, Silver bushes do well in poor soil and do not need regular fertilizing. These shrubs will benefit from a nice feeding only when they are first planted and once a year in spring.
- They require regular pruning to keep them vigorous and healthy. While caring for these showy shrubs, take some extra time to inspect them for pests.
- There are no toxic effects reported regarding Silver bushes. If your pets or children are hypnotized by these safe beauties, there is nothing to worry about.
Silver Bush Features: An Overview
- Calocephalus brownii plants are small perennial shrubs that can reach up to 3.2 feet (1 m) in both height and width in their natural habitat and from 0.6 to 2.3 feet (20-70 cm) when cultivated.
- They have numerous branches growing on top of each other. This growing habit gives Silver bushes that pretty, dense, and compact shape which is so specific to many species of shrubs.
- The tangled branchlets come in white to silver colors. When these shrubs reach maturity, they are more likely to present a crowded, somehow puffy, and glowy appearance.
- Their stems are thick and grow outwards, containing soft and tiny leaves that stay close to themselves. Both stems and leaves reflect light very well.
- Depending on the growing region, Silver bushes bloom in different periods of the year. Typically, their flowering time is from late spring to summer, but the summer in Australia lasts from December to February.
- These shrubs exhibit cute tiny flowers that measure about 0.4 inches (1 cm) in diameter. Their button-shaped blooms are usually colored in white-yellow shades.
- Thanks to their similar environmental requirements, these plants can be an excellent planting companion to Shasta Daisy, Coneflower, Salvia, and other species of shrubs.
- Calocephalus brownii looks almost unreal. If you choose to decorate your home during the Christmas holidays with these plants, you will feel like Elsa in her frozen castle.
Growing Silver Bush
If these eye-catching shrubbies have already stolen your heart, we won’t judge! Silver bushes are a great choice for exotic plant lovers and they are so easy to grow that even beginner gardeners can handle them. The secret with these shrubs is not to worry about them too much and let them be. With a loving nature and minimal care, you will get a mesmerizing companion for years!
Silver bushes prefer lots of full sun exposure, but they can also tolerate partial sunlight or semi-shaded locations. They will show the best growth when they are provided with at least 6 hours of bright and direct light daily.
If you grow silver shrubs indoors, place them in a well-lit spot, such as near south, east, or north-facing windows. In your outdoor garden, plant them in a location where they can receive plenty of morning sun and a little shade in the afternoon. If you live in a region with hot climates, it is better to protect your plants from long periods of harsh sunlight, as it may burn their leaves.
The temperature values for these shrubs to grow healthy should be maintained around 75 °F (24 °C) or higher. Silver bushes are very adaptive to their environmental conditions. They are quite frost-hardy and will tolerate temperatures that drop to 15 °F (-9 °C). Some occasional winds will not be a problem to these shrubs, but if you live in northern regions with frozen winds, you must protect your plants by any means.
Planting Silver Bush
In their natural habitat, these plants grow in gravelly, rocky, sandstone derived soil or just sand. Plant your Silver bush from spring through fall in a light, highly alkaline, and extremely well-draining soil. To improve drainage, you can add some organic matter like peat moss, manure, or garden compost.
Every bushy companion needs some pruning once in a while and these beauties are no different! If you want to maintain a certain size and shape, you can trim off your Calocephalus brownii regularly. The old branches, leaves, and spent flowers must be removed to keep a fresh appearance and encourage new growth and blooming. Just make sure you do all the pruning before September, as they need some time to harden off for winter.
Silver bush plants are generally pest-free, but mealybugs or scale insects can bother them sometimes. These intruders will cause minor issues, however, it is better to take early action to prevent any possible spread. If you notice any sign of infestation on your shrubs’ leaves, you can treat them with pesticides.
Watering Silver Bush
Like most shrubs, Silver bushes will need extra attention only when they are freshly planted. For a couple of weeks, young plants require regular watering every day. Once they have settled in their new growing environment, you can water your Silver bush less often. This process is as simple as it seems and does not come with more effort on your part.
Depending on the soil type and weather, the frequency of watering may vary. Usually, Silver bush plants do well when they are provided with water once every 7 to 14 days. If you grow your plants in clay soil, you can expect to water them less frequently than in a sandy medium. Moreover, your plants will require watering weekly during the hotter months.
Silver bush plants prefer a common watering method with a deep soaking followed by great drainage. The moist foliage is the perfect magnet for mold and disease, so the water must be applied only to your plants’ roots. Make sure you always check the soil before watering your plants again. When the top 2 to 4 inches (5-10 cm) of soil feels dry to the touch, this is the ideal time to water your shrubby babies.
When it comes to humidity, Silver bush plants perform best in slightly dry locations. When the air around your shrubs is too humid, you can intervene easily. For indoor plants, place them in a room with air vents or near a dehumidifier. If you live in a very humid region, they will handle rainfalls and high humidity pretty well but will grow poorly and eventually die off.
Propagating Silver Bush
Silver bush plants are an excellent gift for holidays, so why not propagate them? No worries, we will not tell your friends if you want to keep these snowy specimens for your landscape decorations! Also, successful propagation can be achieved very simply by any type of gardener, either if you are using stem cuttings or seeds.
If you want to propagate Silver bushes by cuttings, this is the most common way to do it. For better results, the cuttings must be taken in January in a location where your shrub is protected from cold, such as a greenhouse or anywhere indoors. Look for semi-hardened branches that contain several seeds and cut them at an angle.
Fill a pot with fresh suitable soil and plant your cuttings. Keep them in a warm room and provide them with regular watering. Once you notice a strong root development, your baby bush can be transplanted into its new growing medium or left as it is.
Although Silver bush plants are usually propagated through cuttings, you can also use seeds found in their flowers. They can be collected easily during the summer and planted in fresh potting soil. If placed in a bright and warm location, the germination should occur in about 10 to 30 days after sowing the seeds and cared for them as usual.
Who needs other Chrismas decorations when these snowy shrubs are so gorgeous to have around? Not only do Silver bush plants look ready for holidays, but they are also low-maintenance houseplants until pruning time is scheduled. But that is not so much fuss either! With proper environmental conditions and lots of love, you will have a loyal companion for years!
Will you decorate your home with this beautiful silver plant this Christmas? Let us know in the comments?