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Where’s the Chlorophyll?

A couple of new arrivals in the garden department feature silver foliage. And that got me to thinking about when I learned about photosynthesis back in grade school (when dinosaurs ruled the earth). So how do these plants make their own food when there doesn’t appear to be much chlorophyll there? A quick web search offered a nice explanation:

The color of the foliage, is in fact, most often due to the density, color and length of the hair on the leaf. Underneath the gray or silver appearance more often than not is a green leaf. The chlorophyll in the leaves give plants the green color. Gray and silver leaved plants do contain chlorophyll as do nearly all plants.

So I went back for a closer look and sure enough, the farther in you look, the greener they get.

Maui Wormwood
(Artemisia ‘Makana Silver’)

While it’s a perennial in warmer climates, in our area Artemisia ‘Makana Silver’ is a fast growing annual. It’s soft, silvery foliage will pop in any mixed container planting.

Place it in full sun and let dry between waterings. In addition to the airy texture, it has small yellow blooms in late summer. 13-24″ tall and 30-36″ wide.

$9.99 in a quart size pot.

Silver Slipper Senicio
(Senecio niveoaureus)

You may think that this plant looks like lamb’s ears, and it was mistakenly classified as such when it was first introduced. It is now known to be a Senecio (a relative of Dusty Miller.) In fact, the name Senecio is Latin for “old man,” referring to the abundant white hair so typical of the genus.

This stunning perennial features soft, densely hairy, bright silvery white “rabbit ear”-leaves. It holds up well in rain and weather and is irresistible either in the landscape or mixed container.

It needs cool climates without extremes of hot or cold to grow well and will reach 18-24″ tall.

$7.99 in a quart size pot.