Growing Lavender Cotton, Santolina

Growing Lavender Cotton, Santolina
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Lavender CottonLavender Cotton, Santolina chamaecyparissus, is an interesting ornamental herb that grows to about 2 foot tall. It's considered an evergreen shrub that is hardy to 0 degrees (-18C). Santolina has lovely soft grayish foliage and small yellow flowers. Many times you'll see it used in formal herb gardens but it can be adapted for many landscape options. Lavender cotton has many good points: it's drought tolerant, ornamental, easy to grow and the foliage can be dried and used to repel moths.

Santolina will grow well in Zones 5-10 in a sunny spot. After planting, when it's established, this herb is drought tolerant even in the hottest locations, including next to walls or reflective surfaces. Try mixing it with ornamental grasses and other plants that can take a dry, sunny location. To keep it neat looking, it can be shaped in the spring and deadheaded after blooming. If there is a period without rain, water every two weeks or so.

Lavender cotton is versatile in that it can be used as an edging plant, a ground cover, an addition to a rock garden or an herb garden. If you want to use it as an edging then plan on spacing the plants about 18 inches apart. The color and texture of the foliage is very interesting, which will add a nice touch to the landscape locations I mentioned. The flowers are tiny, yellow and button shaped. They bloom in mid to late summer.

Lavender cotton will grow in soil that is dry, even a little sandy, like many other herbs. Water at soil level, not from above, and make sure it's given good drainage at all times.

Even if there wasn't a practical use for Lavender cotton, it would be an interesting and pretty herb to grow, but it does have uses. The foliage can be used as a moth repellent in sachets or hung in small bunches. The flowers can be dried as everlastings, and the fresh foliage and flowers can be used in cut flower arrangements. There is also a green and pinkish variety as well as the traditional gray santolina.

Image: courtesy of Stan Shebs


About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at


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