Stunning Silver Plants for Dry Times

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Gold-hungry Olympics athletes may be disappointed to settle for silver, but it’s a most desirable color in the garden. Silver-leaved plants are a sophisticated design choice, and, even better, they tend to be drought tolerant. 

The silvery sheen on the leaves of Agave parryi subsp. truncata is actually a waxy coating that helps this succulent conserve water and survive strong sun.

The silvery sheen on the leaves of Agave parryi subsp. truncata is actually a waxy coating that helps this succulent conserve water and survive strong sun.

As with everything in the plant world, silver foliage didn’t come about just to dazzle gardeners. In most cases the silvery look actually comes from adaptations to harsh conditions. Some silver plants have a waxy or filmy silver coating on their leaves to reflect strong sun. Other silver plants have thicker silver “fur” that helps to deal with drought. This silver fuzz catches rainfall, moistening the plant’s cells and then shedding the water it toward the roots.

Here are some tips for incorporating silver-leaved plants into your garden design:

  • Like white, silver reflects light and takes on a special glow at dawn and dusk. Place silver plants along a pathway or patio that you use at those times of day.
  • Use shade-loving silver plants to brighten dark areas.
  • Sun-loving silver plants can be placed to great effect in front of dark-leaved evergreens.
  • Silver plants work well with any other color of foliage or flower. Silver intensifies the energy and excitement of hot colors like red and orange. It blends with the calm of cool colors like blue and purple.
  • Since silver works well with hot and cool colors alike, silver plants are a great choice for transitional areas—the spaces between garden beds or sections—and planted as unifying repetition throughout a garden.

Image courtesy of Walters Gardens