Plectranthus Argentatus (silver shield)
FOR shady spaces where ground covers may be difficult to establish and maintain, Plectranthus argentatus (silver spurflower) is a sure-fire winner.
It is native to coastal areas of Queensland, NT and NSW.
This easy-care perennial groundcover has soft, opposite, silver-grey velvety leaves.
Upright side shoots to about 50cm are borne prolifically on lightly suckering ground-hugging stems.
Individual plants may cover an area of several square metres.
Despite its creeping habit, P. argentatus is shallow-rooted, and is easily managed.
A minimum of supplementary watering in dry periods will keep plants growing through the heat of summer.
Severe frosts may cut the foliage back somewhat, but plants recover quickly and completely in spring.
The addition of an all-purpose soluble fertiliser will encourage rapid recovery after winter.
Spikes of purple flowers, similar to those of other members of the Lamiaceae family (e.g. sage, basil and coleus) are borne in autumn.
There are around 230 known genera in the Lamiaceae family.
Cuttings strike readily and rapidly.
New plants can also be easily produced by digging up sections of already-rooted stems of ‘mother’ plants and potting them on for roots to become well-established.
This versatile plant works well as an indoor pot plant in a well-lit but shady position.
P. argentatus is also a winner as a hanging basket specimen.
In the garden, the silver-grey foliage contrasts well with bright green strappy foliage such as Dianella revoluta (Black Anther Lily) or low-growing shrubs such as Correa ‘Dusky Bells’.
P. argentatus has survived for many years in a semi-shaded, dry area of our garden.
The original plant was grown from a cutting from a friend’s garden.
The soil is mulched with woodchip.
This is ideal for the stems to lightly sucker; a good survival tactic which allows the plant mass to effectively cover the area.
Each winter the foliage is knocked back by frost, but it rapidly recovers in spring.
Occasionally we have given it a tidy up and light prune in early summer.
This foliage contrast plant is a great survivor and is a worthy addition to either an exotic or Australian garden.