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Graham Rice's New Plants Blog

Graham Rice Garden writer and plantsman Northamptonshire and Pennsylvania

Editor-in-Chief of the RHS Encyclopedia of Perennials; writer for a wide range of newspapers and magazines including The Garden and The Plantsman; member of the RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee and Floral Trials Committee; author of many books on plants and gardens.

  • Date Joined: 18 Oct 2006

New Australian drought-lover

Posted by Graham Rice on 29 Oct 2008 at 11:29 AM

When I worked in the Alpine Department at Kew - let's just say we measure the time in decades ago not just years - we used to grow a plant in called Ptilotus bigelovii. It featured lovely silvery plumes crowded with slender reddish flowers and always attracted interest. But it was difficult to grow - it comes from the Australian desert and it just loved to be dry. We grew it in the Alpine House in a clay pot of gritty compost and were very careful with the watering.

Now a German plant breeder, Ernst Benary, has created ‘Joey' which is their easy-to-grow form of another Ptilotus species from the desert, P. exaltatus. ‘Joey' is being introduced this season by Suttons Seeds.

Growing about 30-40cm in height, the blue-green foliage sets off the upright plumes beautifully and those plumes come in a lovely blend of silver and pink all summer. Just give it plenty of sun. And while ‘Joey' is a lot less fussy about its watering than the species I grew at Kew all those years ago, it thrives in dry conditions. It should be great in a container. I wonder if it dries well...

You can order plants of Ptilotus exaltatus ‘Joey' from Suttons.

 

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