Silver is not just the Lone Ranger’s horse or Maxwell’s favorite tool, it is a fantastic color for the garden. Although not universal, most plants with silver foliage will be adapted to full sun, drought tolerant and deer resistant. Of course, Brunnera ‘Looking Glass’, Japanese painted fern and Pulmonaria ‘Excalibur’ are examples of silver plants that will thrive in shade, but many of the plants we love for bright silver foliage are tough and sun and heat tolerant. Consider the glory of silver brought to containers and beds by the simple Dusty Miller. This plant is too often overlooked as a blending plant in containers. The color is wonderful with purple fountain grass, deep purple petunias, and others.
Y’all know that one. But how about these great silver plants? Ephedra equisitina is a large drought tolerant shrub, about 6-7′ wide and 4′ tall. The fine texture is unique in the garden, since it is composed of a myriad leafless stems. Or, if you want a more reliably perennial form than Dusty Miller, Artemisia ‘Silver Brocade’ is a stunning groundcover that looks more like a Dusty Miller than the feathery Artemisia ‘Silver Mound’ that is another popular choice.
If you have a rock wall, one of my favorite trailing plants is Teucrium haradjani. The feather like foliage is bright silver and despite an exposed location and drought, our plants look perfect every year. Tiring of all the dissected foliage? Well, then get a very succulent foliage by planting a silvery agave such as Agave parryi. Mature agaves look wonderful in the garden or in containers. Agave parryi is hardy even into zone 5 most winters.
Because the desert is full of little gems, there are so many plants to choose from for this post. The tiniest foliage is on Gypsophila aretioides, long lasting dwarf gold flowers on Alyssum stribryni, or even the common Alyssum saxatile (Basket of Gold) is sure to please. But I simply must show you Salvia argentea. It has hairy silver foliage surpassed only by some of the wilder cacti, but this one is easy to grow and accessible.
The bright colors get much of the attention. Our landscape customers rarely ask for silver plants…people ask for red, yellow, pink, purple and so on much more often. But silver blends. Silver survives. Silver contrasts with deep greens and other colors. And silver brightens the garden. So place your bet on Silver. Hi Ho!