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Plant review: Convolvulus cneorum (Bush Morning Glory)

by Timber Press on July 28, 2010

in Gardening

“Silver” is a word often rather inaccurately applied to plants with gray or whitish foliage. But in the case of bush morning glory, the association is fully deserved — the shrub’s narrow, blunt-tipped leaves are covered with the tiniest of hairs, which give the leaf surface a metallic sheen. The plant itself forms a flattened mound about two to four feet across, and is, quite simply, one of the finest, truly silver-leaved shrubs you can grow. (Fortunately, it has none of the weedy tendencies of some other members of the genus Convolvulus, such as the notorious field bindweed, C. arvensis.) Adding to its charm are the morning-glory-like flowers, which spangle the shrub for many weeks in spring. They’re white with a pinkish reverse and about three inches across. Yet another virtue: the plant is evergreen (or rather ever-silver).

A true Mediterranean native, bush morning glory is found in coastal areas from Spain to Albania, which gives a clue to the conditions it needs in the garden: full sun, lean soil, and perfect drainage. It most emphatically does not need rich soil, fertilizer, or supplementary water (unless you live in a desert area). Spoil it with these unwanted goodies and you’ll get weak, floppy growth and a plant that splays open in the center.

The down side of the plant’s origins is a lack of cold tolerance — it’s reliably hardy only to Zone 8, and temperatures that fall below 15°F will cause tip damage and kill the flower buds. You can, however, grow it in a largish pot, preferably of high-quality terra-cotta. A row of these would be an enviable feature in any garden.

Good garden companions include just about any plant that share bush morning glory’s preference for Mediterranean conditions: lavenders, rock roses (but not real roses, which need too much summer water), rosemarys, ceanothus, euphorbias, thymes, and drought-tolerant salvias. In my own garden, I grow it near clumps of Cupid’s dart (Catananche caerulea) and like the pairing very much.

The only maintenance bush morning glory needs is a haircut every few years, when the growth starts to get a bit rangy. Do this in late winter. (Of course, a cold winter may do the pruning for you, in which case you’ll need to remove the damaged branch tips.) The rest of the year, simply enjoy its singular silvery seductiveness.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ruth March 18, 2016 at 7:40 pm

Is convolvulus silver bush susceptible to snails? I have it as a border plant, but it regularly dies off in sections, which thus far remains inexplicable. In digging out a few dead plants I found snails. Maybe that’s what gets to them?

2 Lance Bowen December 7, 2017 at 1:25 am

Do rabbits like eating convolvulus?

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