Santolina chamaecyparissus, commonly called lavender cotton or gray Santolina, is a small, semi-woody, tender sub-shrub with aromatic, evergreen, silver-gray foliage. It typically grows in a mound to 2' tall, spreading to 3' wide, and is native to the Mediterranean (southern Europe and northern Africa). Pinnately divided leaves have a rough texture and musk-like fragrance, with button-like, 3/4-inch wide, bright yellow flowers of this aster family member bloom in summer atop stalks rising well above the foliage to 6" tall. Flowers may not appear if plants are regularly trimmed/sheared, often grown in herb gardens.
They are quickly grown, on average, in dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun, and plants appreciate regular moisture during the first year but tolerate drought once roots are established. Plants perform well in limey soils and will tolerate poor dry soils but be sure to avoid rich soils and wet soils. Gritty or sandy soils help provide the exceptional drainage that these plants need. Plants dislike humid weather, where they are more susceptible to fungal diseases and tend to lose compact shape by opening up in the center. Deadhead spent flowers as soon as they faded. Cut back in spring to maintain a compact form and encourage new growth. This plant may be grown as an annual.
Light: Full Sun
Water: Low, Moderate
Zone: 6, 7, 8, 9
Origin: Western and Central Mediterranean