Sun exposure:
Full shade
South facing, west facing
Position in border:


Chalky / Alkaline / Well Drained / Light / Sandy

Cotton lavender is the common name of Santolina chamaecyparissus, a popular and easily grown small shrub that has attractive silvery foliage and masses of bright yellow flowers in summer. Despite its common name, this plant is no relation to lavender or cotton. Forming a compact, bushy mound of evergreen foliage, cotton lavender is ideal for border edges and raised beds, and also makes an excellent dwarf hedge. The leaves are finely divided to give a feathery appearance and are aromatic when bruised. The button-like flowers are up to 2cm across and borne individually on straight slender stems.

How to grow cotton lavender

Santolina chamaecyparissus originates from the Mediterranean and, like most plants from this region, needs soil that is well drained and doesn’t remain moist, particularly in winter. Plant Santolina chamaecyparissus in autumn or early to mid-spring, depending on location. Plant in spring in colder areas so as to become well established before winter. In milder areas, autumn is the best time to plant. Water during dry spells for the first growing season, until established.

Pruning twice during the year is important for Santolina chamaecyparissus, otherwise plants become leggy and flop open to reveal bare, woody stems. Cut back hard in mid spring, reducing growth by at least half, cutting back to where new shoots are starting to emerge. Then, once flowering has finished, in late summer, take off the dead flower stems as low down as possible, and lightly trim the whole plant at the same time.

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Advice on buying cotton lavender

  • You can buy cotton lavender as pot grown plants all year round from nurseries, garden centres, or online
  • Always check plants for signs of disease or damage before buying or planting

Where to buy cotton lavender

Plant calendar

Cut backyesyes

Santolina and wildlife

Santolina has no particular known value to wildlife in the UK.

Is Santolina poisonous?

Santolina has no toxic effects reported.

No reported toxicity to:
Is not known to attract Birds
Is not known to attract Cats
Is not known to attract Dogs
Is not known to attract Horses
Is not known to attract Livestock
Is not known to attract People