How to Grow Santolina Plants

Guide to Growing Lavender cotton and Holy Flax

Santolina are hardy perennials that range from 30 to 75 cm in height.

Santolina bloom from the end of spring through summer and carry masses of button shaped yellow flowers atop thin stems.

The foliage of Santolina has a fragrant nature and is usually a greyish green.

Some common names for Santolina include Holy Flax and Lavender Cotton.

Santolina chamaecyparissus
Santolina chamaecyparissus by brewbooks.

Quick Santolina Growing and Care Guide

  • Common Names: Lavender cotton, Cotton lavender, Holy Flax.
  • Life Cycle: Hardy perennial.
  • Height: 6 to 28 inches (15—70 cm). Shrub-like.
  • Native: Mediterranean.
  • Growing Region: Zones 6 to 9.
  • Flowers: Late spring through to summer.
  • Flower Details: Yellow, white. Buttons. Massed. Composite.
  • Foliage: Evergreen. Green, grey-green, silvery. Fine leaves. Aromatic. Wiry stems.
  • Sow Outside: Seeds: 1/8 inch (3 mm). Start of spring or towards the end of autumn
  • Sow Inside: Germination time: two to three weeks. Temperature: ~68°F (20°C). First mix seeds in a moist growing medium, place in a freezer bag, then stratify by refrigeration for four weeks. Transfer to pots. Transplant outdoors before the last frost or at the end of autumn. Space at ~20 inches (50 cm).
  • Requirements and care: Full sunlight or partial shade. Good drainage. Poor soil. Dry soil. Water during prolonged dry spells and in the first year. Can tolerate dry soils once roots are established. Deadhead. Tidy dead leaves and flowers (cut back to about 5 inches (12 cm)). Propagate: by taking cuttings at the end of summer or in the autumn.
  • Miscellaneous: The moth Bucculatrix santolinella feeds exclusively on Santolina chamaecyparissus. Other members of the genus attract Case-bearers. The leaves are often used as a repellent for other kinds of moths.

How to Grow Santolina Plants in the Garden

When growing Holy Flax and other Santolina members outdoors from seed then sow at a depth of 3 mm, this can be done either at the start of spring or start of autumn. Ideally the seeds should be sown and the plants grown in a poor dry soil in either a sunny or partially shaded part of the garden.

If you plan to first grow indoors then start about two months in advance; the seedlings can be transplanted out in either early spring or late autumn. The seeds should be put into soil, placed in a plastic bag, and then put in the fridge for about three weeks. Following this, place the seeds at a temperature of about 18 to 20 degrees centigrade; it should take about three weeks for the seeds to germinate. They should be sown outdoors with a spacing of 50 to 60 cm.

Caring for Santolina

It is fairly easy to look after Santolina plants such as Lavender Cotton; they should be watered in extremely dry weather, and cut back to about 15 cm in height once flowering has occurred. If you require more plants then they can be propagated by taking cuttings in autumn.

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