Dusty Miller Varieties + Harvest Tips for Cut Flower Use

I'm here in our Dusty Miller planting. I'm going to talk today about three different Dusty Miller varieties that we carry. I'm going to talk a little bit about the differences between each of those varieties and why you might choose one over the other.

About Dusty Miller

First, for some context for this planting. Dusty Miller is a really interesting, unique crop that has this beautiful, silvery, dusty leaf color, and interesting leaf shape. It's a great foliage option, especially for design work. There're a lot of possibilities there. It is, however, a little bit of a slower growing crop, and it takes a little bit longer than a lot of the flowering crops to mature in the field to a harvestable stage. This is, again, something that could provide some really nice options for design work. It's maybe not the most productive or fastest variety if you're looking for something to continuously harvest for market bunches or something like that. But again, it has this unique leaf shape and color and a lot of potential for design.

'New Look'

I'm going to start with talking about this variety right here. This is 'New Look'. Of the three varieties that we carry, this one has the smoothest leaf shape and the least lobing. This variety has the most surface area on the leaves.


'Silverdust' has a much more heavily serrated or deeply incised leaf shape. It resembles a snowflake. It has a much more feathery, light look to it, and it can be a little bit shorter than 'New Look'. Towards the end of the season (this is late August right now) it will size up and produce stems that are long enough for cuts. Again, highly uniform and a really deeply serrated, feathery look to the leaves.


The the leaf shape and the coloring of 'Candicans' is really similar to 'Silver Dust' and that it has these finely serrated leaves, definitely more of a snowflake or feathery look to it, but it is taller and more vigorous and a little quicker to size up in our trials. If you're looking for a variety for cut flowers or for cut use, 'Candicans' is a really good option just because of the height and the vigor of this variety compared to the other two.

One thing to consider about 'Candicans' is that even though it's taller and a little bit more vigorous, it is a little bit more variable in terms of the leaf shape and the patterning and even the plant habit to some degree. You will see a little bit more variability in this variety than you would with either 'New Look' or 'Silver Dust'. But again, we think that the vigor and the productivity of this variety kind of balances out those things. It really depends on on what your preference is, what your use is, and what you're using it for.

Stem Length Comparison of Dusty Miller Varieties

Both 'New Look' and 'Silver Dust' are a little bit shorter. They are typically at this time of year for us between 16 to 18 inches tall, whereas 'Candicans' is a little taller, around 24 inches tall. Part of the reason for that is that both 'New Look' and 'Silver Dust' were developed as more bedding and landscape plants; they have a little bit more of a compact habit, highly uniform. If you're looking for uniformity, both of these varieties are very uniform, but they tend to stay a little bit shorter and more compact, even though they do stretch to tall enough for cuts for us later in the summer. Whereas 'Candicans' is a strain that has not been selected for bedding or landscape use. It tends to be just a little bit taller and a little bit more variable than 'New Look' or 'Silver Dust'.

Harvesting Dusty Miller

This is a longer season crop for us. We typically don't start harvesting off of these until middle to late August in a field planting and we're waiting until the stems start to stiffen and thicken up and become a little bit woody.

We find that if we're able to harvest when the stems are a little bit woody, they rehydrate better and have a longer vase life. If we harvest before the stems have toughened up a little bit, or when they're still quite fleshy, they do not tend to last as long in the vase and they will be more likely to wilt.

I can show an example of that. This is a stem that has stiffened up. This is a very stiff, sturdy stem; there's an obvious sort of woody layer around the edge of the stem. This is a good stage to harvest and gives you an also an idea of what sort of stem length you might expect to off of 'Candicans'.