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Soft Garden Texture

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April 23, 2020

Dr. Gary Bachman: When the harsh days of summer arrive next year, soft garden textures will be a welcome sight today on Southern Gardening.

Announcer: Southern Gardening with Gary Bachman is produced by the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Dr. Gary Bachman: Plants with soft fuzzy leaves add interesting texture to the garden. It's the dense fine hairs that create that interest. The short hairs also provide shade to the leaf and protection from hot summer winds. So if you have a hot windy spot in the garden, consider giving one of these a try.

Silver Sage has eight inch long leaves covered with fuzz. This biennial plant will have foliage the first year and a tall flower stock will spring up the second year. The flowers are not showy, so simply prune it out.

Another favorite of mine is Lamb's Ear. It stays relatively short at six inches but spreads to 18 inches and makes a very nice ground cover. The wooly foliage is a cool gray and in summer will produce spikes of purple pink flowers.
If you're looking for an edible choice, try Barrage. All parts of this plant are fuzz covered. The flowers make a nice addition to any summer salad. Barrage is an annual, but will reseed readily for many seasons to come.

Now, too much moisture will quickly cause root rot. In fact, these plants tolerate dry conditions, making growing in containers an ideal situation.

If you forget the water sometimes there's no harm done. But the fuzz on the leaves holds moisture like a towel. To keep the foliage as dry as possible, grow these plants in the full sun, so any dew or rain evaporates quickly. Consider using soaker hoses rather than overhead sprinklers. So for that hot and dry spot, these plants may look soft, but they are tough. I'm horticulturist, Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening.

Announcer: Southern gardening with Gary Bachman is produced by the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

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