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‘Silver Stitch’: Resilient in summer sun and drought
Submitted by Andy Pulte, Distinguished Lecturer and Director, Department of Plant Sciences
June 3, 2024

UT Gardens’ Plant of the Month, June, 2024

ut gardens silver stitch
Help the hardiness of Helichrysum italicum 'Silver Stitch' by planting in well-drained soil or on a slope. This annual is suited for hot summers and drought and boasts a unique curry-scented fragrance. Photo by Andy Pulte, courtesy UTIA

There are a lot of Helichrysum in the world, perhaps as many as 600 species. One of my favorites is Helichrysum italicum 'Silver Stitch,' a remarkable plant that captivates with its unique appearance, versatile nature, and fragrance. Belonging to the Asteraceae family, this half-hardy annual will perform well on the edges of a garden border in full sun. I call it a half-hardy annual because it is right on the edge of hardiness across Tennessee. Planting in well-drained soil or on a slope will increase survivability.

The name 'Silver Stitch' aptly describes how the thin leaves intertwine and stitch together. This form is compact and bushy with a garden height of around 8 to 14 inches. This is an excellent choice for borders, containers, or rock gardens. Its low-growing habit and versatile silvery foliage create a stunning contrast with darker green foliage plants or brightly colored flower blooms.

‘Silver Stitch’ is also tough. Its resilience and ability to handle full sun and drought conditions make it outstanding. Whether used as a decorative element, a fragrant addition, or just wanting to plant something new, Helichrysum 'Silver Stitch' is earning its place as a cherished cultivar among gardeners. Used in mixed containers, in the ground in a mass planting, or as a specimen plant in the herb garden, the versatility and toughness of ‘Silver Stitch’ adds a unique color, fragrance, and form to the garden.

Fragrance is one of Helichrysum’s most consistent attributes, and ‘Silver Stitch’ is one of the best. Its delightful curry-scented fragrance is what first caught my attention. When crushed or brushed against, its leaves release this unique fragrance, adding another dimension to its appeal. This aromatic quality makes it a favorite for sensory gardens or raised containers where plants can be easily touched. The fragrance is often noticeable in the morning even without rubbing the leaves.

Used in mixed containers, in the ground in a mass planting, or as a specimen plant in the herb garden, the versatility and toughness of ‘Silver Stitch’ adds a unique color, fragrance and form to the garden. There are many other Helichrysum species to try, including H. monstrosum, the familiar strawflower, and many are garden worthy. Because of this variability, they are often included as trial plants across all three garden locations.

Look for ‘Silver Stitch’ at the UT Gardens, Knoxville.

The UT Gardens includes plant collections located in Knoxville, Crossville and Jackson, Tennessee. Designated as the official botanical garden for the State of Tennessee, the UT Gardens are part of the UT Institute of Agriculture. The Gardens’ mission is to foster appreciation, education and stewardship of plants through garden displays, educational programs and research trials. The Gardens are open during all seasons and free to the public. For more information, see the Gardens website.

The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture is comprised of the Herbert College of Agriculture, UT College of Veterinary Medicine, UT AgResearch and UT Extension. Through its land-grant mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions.

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