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Zones 13-17, 19-24
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Full
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Moderate, Minimal

Ptilotus

Mulla Mulla
Amaranthaceae
Annuals, Perennials

With abundant upright flower heads shaped like feather dusters, Ptilotus bred for the garden are irresistible Australian natives that come in pastel colors. They grow to about 18 in. high, with reddish stems that support narrow, pointed, upright leaves. Perennial kinds are often used as annuals.

Ptilotus exaltatus villosus ‘Platinum Wallaby’ (photo courtesy of Proven Winners)
Ptilotus exaltatus villosus ‘Platinum Wallaby’ (photo courtesy of Proven Winners)

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Ptilotus exaltatus

Oddly, this species is divided into perennial and annual forms. Both of the following have silvery green foliage. Plants in the Joey strain are annuals that prefer acidic soil, grow to 12–15 in. high and 12 in. wide, and bear pink flowers to 4 in. long. This is a seed-grown strain, so the flower colors vary a bit. ‘Platinum Wallaby’ is part of a perennial subspecies, P. e. villosus, that naturally occurs in alkaline soil. It has blue-pink flowers that are longer (to 6 in.) and longer-lasting than those in the Joey strain, and the plants can grow up to 18 in. high and wide. It is grown from tissue culture, so all plants are virtually identical.

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