Plant of the Month for November 2009

Helichrysum milfordiae; photo by Todd Boland
Helichrysum milfordiae

Description and general information

This low, cushion-forming alpine is native to the Drakensberg Mountains of South Africa, growing at an elevation up to 2800m. Plants develop a cluster of small, tight rosettes which are covered in silvery-hairs, lending this plant year-round attraction. In late spring-early summer, plants produce 3-4 cm diameter stemless flowers. The flowers are white or sometimes tinted pink and like the annual members of the genus, have typical papery petals.

Cultivation

This species is hardy to at least zone 5. They prefer well-drained soil and a sunny site. They dislike winter-wet. I place a pane of glass over my plant to help it through my winters which typically have 8 feet of snow per season.

Bloom period

Spring in the south, into early July in the north.

Propagation

By seeds, cuttings and division

Seed

Fresh seed have best germination; direct sow in pots at room temperature; no stratification needed.

Division

Plants can be divided spring or summer (spring best) but cutting material often produces better plants.

Cuttings

Single rosettes can be struck from April through August and rooted in a lightly shaded, damp sand bed.

 

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