A Drought Tolerant Plant with Year-Round Blooms
Chrysocephalum is a fantastic choice for low-maintenance and low-water gardens. It is an eye-catching, long-blooming perennial that grows up to 1′ tall and 2-3′ wide. It originated in Australia where the Mediterranean climate favors dry summers, just like ours. Therefore, Chrysocephalum is an easy addition to our plant palette for color in Bay Area gardens. It is also a fairly long-lived perennial, lasting from 6 to 10 years.
‘Chryso’ means ‘golden’ in Greek, and ‘cephalus’ means ‘head’. This forms an accurate description of the ‘golden head’ flowers. The plant is also known as ‘Common Everlasting’ for it’s long-lasting flowers.
Chrysocephalum was formerly in the Helichrysum genus. It is part of of the aster or daisy family, Asteraceae, which is one of the biggest families of angiosperms (plants that bear flowers and produce their seeds in fruits). Asters often have the characteristic daisy flower with the disc/tube section of flowers in the middle, surrounded by ray flowers. But not all members of the family have the ray flowers. Chrysocephalum is one such plant, having only the central tube flowers that look like little discs, which can grow up to 1/4″ wide. These flowers are produced in clusters above the foliage.
The foliage of Chrysocephalum apiculatum is green but the ‘Silver and Gold’ cultivar has a softer, attractive silver-gray foliage, which is rounded with a slight point at the end. The fuzzy leaves contrast effectively with the golden disc flowers, which fade from yellow to orange as they mature. This contrast of the fuzzy gray leaves with the golden flowers creates the stunning ‘Silver and Gold’ effect. The blooms can appear year-round, especially in our mild climate, but are more prolific in summer and fall.
Care for Chrysocephalum should include planting in a full or partially sunny location with well-draining soil. A good strategy to get the plant the drainage it needs is to mound up the soil to create a raised planting bed or to plant it in a rock garden. Place it in the front of borders, in containers, or mass plantings for great visual effect. Common Everlasting should be given regular water until it is established and then watered infrequently throughout the dry summer months. Cut back in winter to around 6″ tall to stimulate new, attractive growth and fertilize with an organic fertilizer, such as E.B. Stone’s All-Purpose Plant Food in late winter. Be sure to protect the plant from severe frosts in winter.
Common Everlasting is fantastic for habitat and pollinator gardens, attracting bees, butterflies, and birds. It is also deer tolerant, making it a useful addition to gardens in more rural areas. Cut the blooms to use as dried flowers and decorate your home.
USDA Zones: 9-10.
Planting and Care for Chrysocephalum
- Plant in full sun.
- Plant in soil with excellent drainage.
- Amend heavy soils with Greenall’s Firmulch to improve drainage.
- Prefers a soil pH of 5.5-6.5.
- Water infrequently once established.
- Mulch around plants to conserve water and suppress weeds.
- Fertilize with organic fertilizer in the spring.
- Cut back foliage in winter to 6″ tall to renew growth.