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Santolina - Growing Guide
Santolina are ever popular and widely grown frost hardy evergreen plants which are grown for their aromatic foliage and ornamental qualities when flowering over long periods.
These can be groundcover plants, especially in very dry maritime gardens, where they can spread quickly to colonise bare soil in places with poor soil conditions which would quickly kill other plants. They grow well in rockeries or borders devoted to scented plants. They can also be used in herbaceous borders perhaps as edging plants or even, perhaps, as low hedges.
Santolina grow best in full sun and need little care and maintenance apart from deadheading the old flower stalks with the garden shears to tidy up and shape the mounds of foliage. Semi-ripe cuttings root extremely easily with bottom heat in summer, but the clumps are very easily divided with a spade.
S. chamaecyparissus grows to about 20-24in but will spread to at least 3ft. It is notionally classified as a shrub or subshrub but looks more akin to an evergreen herbaceous perennial. It has white woolly young shoots covered with grey-white leaves. Bright yellow flower heads appear in profusion right through the summer.
S. rosemarinifolia (syn. virens) grows slightly larger in height but spreads just as much. The finely cut aromatic leaves are bright green (instead of grey-white) but the slightly larger flower heads are also bright yellow in midsummer. These two species therefore grow well together.
S. rosemarinifolia ‘Primrose Gem’ produces pale yellow flower heads.