How to use silver plants

There is much more to silver plants than just being good in the heat; there is something of a sense of elegance and sophistication that accompanies silver foliage. Understanding silver plants is to understand that not all plants are green and that there is a big wide world of plants out there.

Silver, like white, reflects light and creates a tonal contrast with surrounding green plants. When light levels are low this contrast is striking and does a lot to lift a garden out of the gloom in the winter months.

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Because silver plants in general can often tolerate higher light levels than others we tend to associate sunshine with silver. Bright sunlight might suit most plants with silver leaves but apart from looking good in the daytime often these plants really steal the show when light levels are poor, not just in the winter but in the evenings too at any time of year.

Not all silver plants need to be in full sun, some prefer a little shade and this can be particularly useful when you are trying to lift a more shady location.

When you start to look around you will notice that there is a whole range of silver foliaged plants to choose from, including silver-white, silver-grey, silver-blue and silver-green foliage. If you are looking for something with the most reflective quality then silver-white is the choice.

Silver foliaged plants seem to really shine now that the daylight hours are short.

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Gardening in black and white is a bit of an art since we tend not to go choosing plants in the local plant nursery after the sun has gone down but if you want to see what a plant selection will look like in low light then a black and white photograph will show you what is going on. White flowers offer another option to white leaves so there is no surprise that white flowers are often pollinated by night time insects.

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Tonal contrast is all about white and greys not colour and in low light levels that is all we can see.

I’m not sure that a garden can only work if it has good tonal contrast as well as colour but it is something of a must if you want to enjoy it in the low light levels of a winter’s evening or in the headlights of the car when you pull in the driveway.