Velvet Centaurea

Plant Form: Evergreen sub-shrub

Water Use: Very Low, Low

Mature Size: 2-4 ft. tall x 6-8 ft. wide

Exposure: Full sun, part sun

Bloom Time: Spring (Mar-May), Late Early Summer (June)

Hardiness: Cold Hardy to 15-20°F

Native to: Italy

Velvet Centaurea has been called a “Dusty Miller on steroids” due to its vigorous growth. Most garden plants either have brilliant flowers or striking foliage that complements all the plants around them. This beauty has both traits. Fluffy, purple, thistle-like flowers are held at the tips of whitish stems (great for cutting). Prized for its lacy, silvery-white foliage covered in felt-like hair, this fast-growing, shrub-like perennial looks fantastic next to bright-flowering plants or plants with dark green foliage. Thriving in heat and poor, dry soils (even clay soils), this Italian native actually prefers sun and low fertility soil for its best performance. Trim it back hard after flowering to keep it from getting leggy. While enduring drought, it also handles frost, resists browsing by deer and rabbits, and attracts butterflies and bees. Use as a groundcover or filler between plants of contrasting color, in background plantings, on slopes, in rock gardens, and even in dry, neglected side yards.


Good season to plant or transplant palms or cacti

  • Prune fast-growing trees like mesquite, palo verde, and acacias to reduce chances of wind damage; don’t remove more than 20 percent of the plant’s foliage at any one time to avoid stress or sunburn of trunk and branches.
  • Keep adding to mulches throughout the summer to conserve water, keep roots cools, and deter weeds.  Water well before applying the mulch (or through an opening in the mulch), or you’ll insulate dry soil rather than moist soil.
  • Continue to deadhead spent flowers for a longer bloom cycle.