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Plant of the Month: Helichrysum

Silver Leaf Yellow

Chrysocephalum apiculatum aka Helichrysum

‘Silver Leaf Yellow’

Latin name: Chrysocephalum apiculatum ‘Silver Leaf Yellow’
Common name: Common everlasting
Flowers: Dime-sized button flowers of orange-yellow
Mature size: 8-10” tall by 16-18” wide
Hardiness: Summer annual
Soil: Well drained
Exposure: Full sun
Water usage: Low
Sources: Local nurseries or mail order

When I was working retail several years ago, a plant came in with silvery grey foliage and dime-sized, button-shaped yellow-orange flowers. It did not look like much in a 4-inch container, but I placed it in a combo pot anyway, to see what it could do. I knew nothing at all about this sparse-flowering, odd plant, but I added geranium and alyssum to the container and kept going. I watched this new specimen with interest and kept waiting for it to take off. It just hung out for a few weeks until the weather started to warm up, and then it began to show more buttons of yellow-orange flowers.

Now I was really interested, and I researched it some more. I found that this odd-looking plant had an odd, hard-to-pronounce name to go along with it —Chrysocephalum — really. Well, we cannot help the names we are given. I was impressed with how it was enjoying the heat. The hotter the weather, the more it grew and bloomed. Once we hit mid-June, the other material in the pot was spent, but that was not a problem for the Chrysocephalum. It was in full bloom and trailing over the sides of the container.

In the last several years I have seen several new introductions ofChrysocephalumcome through the Dallas Arboretum Plant Trials, all with the same results. One cultivar that has stood out over the years isChrysocephalum‘Silver Leaf Yellow’, which is 8 to 10 inches tall by 16 to 18 inches wide. Plant it in a combo container with gomphrena, copper plant, or ageratum. Or plant it alone in a container of a complementary color. It can also be planted in the landscape to create a solid mat of yellow-orange flowers that sit atop silvery grey foliage. Chrysocephalum is attractive enough to stand alone and steal the show.

Chrysocephalum is native to Australia and Tanzania, so it takes both heat and drought with ease. You’ll find it to be an easy plant that will thrive all summer until first frost. Just plant it in full sun and do not overwater. When you start to notice a slight curl to the leaves, it is time to water. FindChrysocephalum ‘Silver Leaf Yellow’ at your favorite local retailer or online.