Gray Santolina (latin: Santolina chamaecyparissus) is a terrific plant to add to a sunny spot in your landscape. It has a mounding growth habit and is evergreen here in North Central Texas.
Although it is native to the Mediterranean, we have had great success with it in our full sun summer garden. Gray Santolina is drought tolerant and prefers a sandy or gravelly location. They will, however, tolerate clay if they are not constantly standing in water. Too much irrigation will kill Gray Santolina.
If you want to add silvery, gray-greens to your color scheme, with the added bonus of an interesting texture, Gray Santolina is a great choice. Some customers have commented that it looks like coral, and I must say I agree!
Keeping your Gray Santolina in a compact mound is easy, as they tolerate pruning very well. Just remember the rule: never prune more than 1/3 of the plant during a single pruning session. (Note that there ARE exceptions to this rule, but they are rare).
Gray Santolina also blooms. Once your plant has been in the ground for a couple years, you can expect yellow, button-shaped flowers held aloft above the gray-green foliage. The plant blooms in the spring and — once the blooming period is over — you should prune all the dead blooms and stalks so you have a nice, neat mound of foliage again.
Gray Santolina has a number of common names: Ground Cypress, Petite Cypress, Holy Herb and — the most interesting — “Lavender Cotton” (don’t ask me why — there is absolutely nothing lavender about this plant…)