Photo Credits: David Fisher and NetPS



Fall has arrived, with our first frost in late October.  My Bermuda grass is going dormant and so is my lawn mower. I decided to add two new plants to my garden this season. I planted dusty miller and Swiss chard alongside pansies in mid-October.


Dusty miller is valued for its fuzzy, lacy, and silvery-gray foliage.  The plant ranges in height from eight to 18 inches.  This plant is considered as an annual in our region but it can emulate the characteristics of a perennial plant in the mid-south that can survive mild winters.  You can grow this plant in full sun to partial shade. Small clusters of yellow flowers develop on year-old plants.


Dusty miller grows best in well-drained soil. It does not like damp, wet soils.  These types of conditions will lead to stem rot and other fungus. Water the plant regularly during periods of warm, dry weather.  The fact that this plant is drought-tolerant is a plus.


Dusty miller is a light feeder that needs a minimum of fertilization. A light application of a slow-release fertilizer will be sufficient for the plant to flourish.  Be sure to water the fertilizer in after application.  A layer of good organic mulch will help to inhibit the growth of weeds and conserve soil moisture.  Organic mulch will also add nutrients to the plant once it starts to decompose. 


Swiss chard is both an ornamental and edible plant. It has colorful stems and big, bright green leaves. It is also a nutritious vegetable.  Swiss chard is one of the few greens that can tolerate warm and cool weather.  It is easy to grow and will thrive until killed by a hard freeze.


Swiss chard grows best in full to partial shade.  It would be wise to add composted manure, blood meal or a timed-release vegetable fertilizer to the soil before planting.  It is imperative to water regularly during periods of drought.  Applying organic mulch will keep the soil cool and moist and suppress weeds.  The plant is generally pest-free but may be attacked by aphids or caterpillars.


You can harvest large leaves by cutting then from the outer part of the plant at the base of their stems.  The young tender leaves are the most flavorful and look good in a salad.  The leaves may also be used in many culinary dishes.


I cannot wait to see how these plants perform in the garden!  I am already looking forward to tasting the Swiss chard!


Until next time, happy gardening! 

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