Santolina - unpretentious and elegant perennial from the Mediterranean
Santolina is a perennial evergreen plant that is unreasonably rare in our gardens. But in vain. Its lush, bluish or green (depending on the type) bushes are completely unpretentious, lend themselves well to haircut, have decorativeness at any time of the year. Santolina is used as a focal silver spot among conifers or as a gently curving green plant along paths, flower beds or a lawn. Santolina is easy to propagate - it is very simple to obtain a whole plantation of plants from one specimen per season, which can advantageously decorate the garden with the help of repetition.
Santolina (Santolina) is one of the many representatives Asteraceae, or Astra family. Introduced into the garden culture for a long time and today it is represented by different species and varieties. All of them are shrubs with a height of 10 to 60 cm, which can reach a diameter of 1 m in the bush.
The leaves of santolin are feathery or simple, covered with a gray fluff. Thin stems rise above the cloud of leaves to a height of 10 to 30 cm and are crowned with spherical inflorescences, up to 2 cm in diameter. The flowers are painted in yellow, cream or almost white. Flowering continues from June to August.
In addition to the decorative appearance, santolina has a peculiar pungent smell, reminiscent of the smell of wormwood. Young branches of santolin of certain types are used in Mediterranean cuisine to flavor pasta, are included in the recipes for pickling cucumbers and olives, are added to tomato salad, sauces and cheeses, and are used as seasoning for fish.
Dried branches with or without flowers can be an excellent fragrance for rooms and cabinets. And at the same time, moths, flies and mosquitoes are scared away.
Due to its unpretentiousness, santolina is used for landscaping slopes, planted in different types of rockeries. Often it can be found as a border plant. It is good in combination of several varieties (with different foliage colors), planted alternately or in a checkerboard pattern.
Due to the spicy smell, Santolin is also used in fragrant gardens. It is suitable for pottery gardens. Feels good on balconies and loggias. It can be grown as a houseplant on the windowsill.
The most popular types of Santolin
The most common form is santolina cypress, or gray (Santolina chamaecyparissus) It can be found most often in garden design. A distinctive feature is the color of the bush - as it grows older, its leaves change color from green to silver. The size of the plant is small, only up to 60 cm in height. The flowering is magnificent. Inflorescences, depending on the variety, can be yellow or cream. A positive feature is that this species has the densest bush and keeps its shape best when overgrown.
No less popular Santolina is green or greenish (Santolina virens) It has a green leaf color and cream colored flowers. Used as a seasoning. It withstands frosts down to -7 ° C, but it keeps the shape of a bush worse.
Other types of santolin are less popular, but also interesting in their own way:
- Santolina rosemary (Santolina rosmarinifolia) As the name implies, its long green leaves resemble rosemary. The spicy notes of the aroma capture the smell of olives.
- Good in her own way Santolina Neapolitan (Santolina neapolitana), reaching up to 1 meter in height and up to 2 meters in diameter.
- Santolina graceful (Santolina elegans) Is the most compact form.
- Cirrus Santolina (Santolina pinnata) has a delicate cream color of flowers.
Growing conditions and care
The birthplace of santolina is the Mediterranean. She is not afraid of the sun, nor the wind, nor the lack of moisture, nor poor soils. Year-round remains decorative with minimal care.
When choosing a place for landing santolina it is better to give preference to the open sun. Then the plant will quickly form a beautiful voluminous bush and will thank it with abundant flowering. With a lack of light, the bush forms loose, the shoots are stretched, and as a result, flowering is less effective.
Santolin is not demanding on soils. In nature, it grows on sparse rocky soils, so when it is planted in the landing pit, you can add only sand to provide the earth with greater friability and permeability.
Despite all the unpretentiousness, santolina does not like heavy clay soils, so when planting in such soil at the bottom of the landing pit, it is necessary to form a drainage layer, and mix the soil with sand.
Santolin is not particularly susceptible to diseases and pests.
Santolin is not demanding for watering, but with regular watering it grows faster. However, the soil does not tolerate constant moisture. Between watering, the soil should have time to dry well. With waterlogging in the plant, the root system begins to decay, as indicated by the yellowing of the shoots.
Santolin should be watered exclusively under the root. With increased humidity inside the bush, the leaves of the plant rot, the bush falls apart.
Santolin has no special requirements for top dressing. She completely dispenses with them. On fertile soils and with increased fertilizing, it grows faster, but elongates, forming a shapeless bush.
In addition to weeding and watering, an annual haircut is included in the Santolin care system. It can be carried out in the spring to give the bush a shape and stimulate the growth of new shoots. But then the plant will not bloom. Or after flowering to remove dried flower stalks.
Often gardeners deliberately avoid flowering crops, preferring the yellow or green pads of neatly trimmed plants to a yellow cloud.
With age, without an annual haircut, the lower part of the shoots of santolina is exposed, the bush falls apart and looks untidy. In this case, it is enough to conduct a rejuvenating pruning, not being afraid to leave bare semi-lignified branches. In just a couple of months, they will be overgrown with new shoots and will take on a neat appearance.
For winter in the southern regions they do not shelter santolina - it tolerates small frosts well, and some species withstand temperatures up to -5 ° С. But starting from the middle lane, the culture already needs dry shelter. To do this, it is enough to establish a frame above the plant and cover it with covering material. In winter, Santolin more often dies not from frost, but from soaking.
In a more northern climate, santolina is dug up, moved to pots and taken to a dry, bright room. Or grown as an annual crop. In a cool room (+8 ° C) only the mother plant is kept. In late February, it is cuttings, rooting cuttings and in the spring young plants are planted in the ground.
In one place, the plant is grown for about 6 years. Further, the bush is aging, acquiring a sloppy appearance and needs to be updated.
Growing santolina in rooms
When growing santolini indoors, the shape of the pot should rather be flat and large enough in diameter. You can take any soil. In the summer months, the plant must be exposed to fresh air, in the open sun.
Santolin breeds very easily. The easiest way is dividing the uterine bush. To do this, it is not even necessary to dig out the whole bush, it is enough to separate it with a shovel in two and plant the separated part in a new place.
The second method is cuttings. At the same time, spring green cuttings, which can be obtained by forming pruning, and autumn semi-lignified ones, are well rooted. To do this, they must be dipped with cut ends in a root stimulator and planted in moist soil, covered with an impromptu greenhouse.
And finally, the seeds. They are sown in cups or cups in late February and early March. But before planting, stratification is carried out for two months, placing it on the vegetable shelf of the refrigerator. Seedlings after sowing appear in about two to three weeks. Further care for seedlings is no different from other plants.
Before landing in the ground, the young santolines are hardened. They put it on the street in a shaded place, first for 10 minutes, then for 15 and so on, gradually increasing the length of time in the air and the light intensity.
Plants are planted in open ground at an established warm temperature or when the soil warms up at a depth of 10-12 cm to 10 ° C. Young saplings of santolina are sensitive to winds, but after lignification of the lower part of the shoots the wind is no longer terrible to the plant.
You can sow Santolin and directly into the ground. The timing of such sowing is quite extended - from April to early June.