There Santolina chamaecyparissus It is an aromatic evergreen plant belonging to the Compositae family cultivated for ornamental purposes in pots and in the garden for its decorative and fragrant foliage.
General characteristics of Santolina chamaecyparissus
There Santolina It is a plant of the Asteraceae family native to Europe, very widespread in the spontaneous state mainly in the arid and sandy soils of the coastal areas and in all areas with a mild climate up to 1000 meters above sea level.
Santolina is an aromatic perennial plant with an upright or semi-prostrate habit. In full vegetative development, the epigeal part or crown gives life to beautiful round shrubs about 50 cm high, formed by numerous thin and woolly stems covered by persistent, decorative and pleasantly scented foliage.
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The leaves, deeply septate, they are composed of small linear lobes, of a gray-green color and are downy like the branches.
THE flowers of the Santolina are gathered in large and decorative flower heads that appear on the apical ends of the stems and look like many roundish duvets of a deep yellow color.
The very persistent flowers bloom continuously throughout the summer, which is a favorable period for harvesting, drying and storage.
Cultivation of Santolina
Santolines are plants that love sunny exposures and even if they tolerate cold temperatures, they should be planted in areas sheltered from cold winds.
Even if they are plants that adapt to any type of soil, they prefer sandy, calcareous, loose and well-drained substrates.
The santolines are generally plants not very demanding of water, usually they are satisfied with the rains but in periods of prolonged drought it is advisable to irrigate them at least every 2 weeks. Plants grown in pots should be watered more frequently and only when the soil is completely dry. In winter period suspend completely the watering for plants grown in the ground and water only monthly those cultivated in the shelter in pots.
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To obtain vigorous plants and abundant blooms, every 20 days, administer a specific liquid fertilizer for flowering plants diluted with the watering water or distribute a slow-release granular fertilizer at the foot of the bushes every 3-4 months.
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Santolina: cultivation in pots
This beautiful and hardy evergreen plant is also grown in pots as a houseplant and outdoor plant on sunny balconies sheltered from the winds. A pot with adequate dimensions is used for the development of the roots and the foliage, generally 30 cm wide and deep, well drained on the bottom with coarse gravel or expanded clay and full of loose and light soil that must be watered regularly, especially in the warmer months. In winter the Santolina should be watered occasionally and protected from the cold.
The recommended period for planting our Santolina is in the last days of winter, using a soil for aromatic herbs. It is good to add clay balls to the bottom of the pot to improve the drainage of excess water. If it is grown in the garden we can use gravel instead of clay.
Repotting of Santolina
Since the roots of Santolina tend to develop downwards and occupy all the available space, it is advisable to transfer it to a larger pot than the previous one containing fresh, fertile soil mixed with sand. The best time to repot is spring.
Multiplication of the Santolina
Santolina propagates by seed, by cuttings or by division of the tufts.
There sowing it can be done in protected seedbeds at the end of winter or directly in the open ground at the end April. When the new seedlings are sufficiently developed, they are transplanted in single pots or in the ground, in a sunny position.
Propagation by cuttings
The cuttings of apical parts taken in summer, they start to root in a mixture of peat and sand in equal parts until the appearance of new shoots. When the plants appear strong and vigorous they can be grown in single pots or directly in the ground.
Propagation by division of the tufts
The multiplication by division of the tufts must be done exclusively in the spring period having the foresight to keep the roots intact.
Planting or planting
The best time for planting is spring. The plants must be buried up to the collar in holes slightly larger than the bread of earth that surrounds the root system and at a distance of at least 40 cm. Before planting, it is good practice to enrich the soil with mature manure. The transplant must be followed by a generous watering and for the first 2-3 days it is advisable to always keep the soil moist to favor the rooting of the Santolina in its new home.
Santolina plants can be grown individually or in groups or perhaps combined with other aromatic perennial plants, with ornamental grasses, Antennaria, Sedum, Veronica, etc.
Pruning of Santolina
In spring cut off dry and damaged branches; topping the flower stems to favor the emission of new shoots, the growth and compactness of the shrub.
Parasites and diseases of the Santolina
Santolina is a very resistant plant and is rarely attacked by aphids.
The illnesses of a fungal nature such as powdery mildew or sore white can occur only if the climate is particularly humid or the rains are abundant. It fears root rot if the soil is not draining.
Cures and treatments
In regions with very harsh climates it is advisable to protect the feet of the bushes with a mulch of straw or dry leaves throughout the winter. Plants grown in pots should be moved to a frost-free but bright place. Treatments with specific products should be carried out only when necessary and always on a sunny day and in the absence of wind.
Varieties and species of Santolina
Among the many species of santoline and among the most cultivated we remember:
A small species, about 35 cm high, ideal for embellishing rock gardens and suitable for growing in pots.
An evergreen variety with dark green foliage with a pleasant resinous scent. The leaves of this species in summer take on a whitish color. It is a cold-resistant plant and should be grown in full sun in a light and well-drained substratum. During the flowering period, from May to August, it produces cream-colored flowers. It takes about 4 years to reach full vegetative development and is suitable for the rock garden. The specimens in favorable pedoclimatic conditions form rounded shrubs more than 1 meter wide.
Uses of Santolina
The plant is used in gardening, for ornamental purposes, to carpet rock gardens or to create low scented hedges and is grown in pots on balconies, terraces as a repellent plant for mosquitoes and other annoying flying insects.
With the leaves and flowers dried prepare bags for perfume the linen and to keep moths out of closets.
In the kitchen it finds space in several recipes for example, the leaves are used to flavor fish dishes.
Medicinal properties of Santolina
It also has antispasmodic, stimulating and vermifuge herbal properties. With the leaves yes
they can prepare infusions, digestive or anti-inflammatory decoctions and even compresses to be used for external use to soothe the itching and burning caused by insect bites.
La Santolina, also called crespolina in reference to the particular shape of its leaves and cotton lavender for their pleasant aroma.
The generic name Santolina derives from two Latin words, sanctum (saint) and linum (flax) while the specific epithet chamaecyparissus means ground cypress.