By: Liz Baessler
Cushion bush, also known as silver bush (Calocephalus brownii syn. Leucophyta brownii) is a very tough and attractive perennial, native to the southern coast of Australia and nearby islands. It’s very popular in pots, borders and larger clumps in the garden, most notably because of its striking silver to white color. Keep reading to learn more about how to grow a cushion bush and cushion bush growing conditions.
Cushion Bush Information
Cushion bush does produce small yellow flowers on the tips of its stems, but most gardeners grow the plant for its foliage. The stems grow thick and outward in a shape very much like a tumbleweed, and the soft leaves stay close to the stems.
Both stems and leaves are a bright silver, almost white color that reflects light very well and makes for a spectacular contrast against neighboring green plants. Bushes are round and tend to reach between 1 and 3 feet (30 to 91 cm.) in height and width, though they can reach as much as 4 feet ( 1 m.).
How to Grow a Cushion Bush
Silver cushion bush is native to the southern coast of Australia, which means it does very well in salty air and dry, poor soil. In fact, one of the key elements of cushion bush care is not fussing over it too much.
Ideal cushion bush growing conditions include extremely well-draining soil, full sun, and little water. During hot, dry spells and when it’s first getting established, however, it will benefit from being watered once a week.
Silver cushion bush does not need to be fertilized and actually performs well in poor soil that’s low in nutrients.
With all its beauty, though, this plant has a relatively short lifespan and bushes may need to be replaced every couple of years.
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Cushion Bush Growing Conditions – Silver Cushion Bush Care and Information
Cushion bush, juga dikenali sebagai bush silver (Calocephalus brownii syn. Leucophyta brownii) adalah tanaman abadi yang sangat sukar dan menarik ke pantai selatan Australia dan pulau-pulau berdekatan. Ia sangat popular di periuk, sempadan dan rumpun yang lebih besar di kebun, terutamanya kerana warna perak hingga putih yang mencolok. Teruskan membaca untuk mengetahui lebih lanjut mengenai cara menanam keadaan semak kusyen dan keadaan tumbuh semak kusyen.
Euphorbia Species, Cushion Spurge
|Family:||Euphorbiaceae (yoo-for-bee-AY-see-ee) (Info)|
|Genus:||Euphorbia (yoo-FOR-bee-uh) (Info)|
|Species:||polychroma (pol-ee-KROH-muh) (Info)|
Average Water Needs Water regularly do not overwater
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 °C (-30 °F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 °C (-25 °F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 °C (-20 °F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 °C (-15 °F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 °C (-10 °F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 °C (-5 °F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 °C (0 °F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)
Where to Grow:
All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction
Soil pH requirements:
From seed sow indoors before last frost
From seed direct sow after last frost
Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored
This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:
Logan Lake, British Columbia
North Easton, Massachusetts
MOUNT HOOD PARKDALE, Oregon
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Orangeburg, South Carolina
Clarkston Heights-Vineland, Washington
West Clarkston-Highland, Washington
West Wenatchee, Washington
On May 17, 2014, iowhen from Iowa City, IA (Zone 5a) wrote:
I planted two last fall - one next to the house, and one further out in the yard. As they came up in the spring, rabbits repeatedly munched the further one. That has not stopped it from flourishing, and it's going to bloom soon, now that the other is almost finished with blooms.
On Jan 1, 2013, tateofkumquat from White Oak, MD wrote:
The electric yellow of this beautiful plant works in a weird, wonderful way with the electric blue of flax flowers, especially in the evening or cloudy days. Alas, mine was not as long-lived as I had hoped, but it was wonderful enough that I'm trying it again in a different place.
On May 7, 2012, floraphiliac from Ludington, MI (Zone 6a) wrote:
My favorite euphorbia, it is so low maintenance and looks good for the whole growing season. Brilliant yellow "flowers" in spring, neat symmetrical mound shape of dark green foliage all summer and lovely reddish to orange tints in the autumn. I've had it for over 5 years in the same spot. I want dozens more of them lol! I may try to root some stem cuttings after the flowering stage this year.
On Mar 2, 2010, willmetge from Spokane, WA (Zone 5b) wrote:
This is one of my all-time favorite perennials. It blooms with the daffodils, and looks as though it was carefully pruned into a perfect mound. The chartreuse and yellow bracts are so much more interesting than any of the other spring flowers. I have never had re-seeding problems. I have extreme skin allergies, so I'm careful not to get the sap on me. That being said, I have divided it, taken cuttings, and never had any problems. I think negative ratings given to toxic plants stems from negligence of the gardener in knowing what they are planting. If you are going to purchase a plant, always do your research. It only takes seconds to look it up on-line. I'm guessing that habaneros and other hot peppers can cause just as much eye damage, but most gardeners understand the intense irritation. read more risks before they plant, and take responsibility for planting them. This is a very valuable plant for those who know what they are planting and who take basic precautions. It is closely related to the Poinsetta which exhibits the same milky sap (that also should probably not be put in the eye).
In addition to the species there are several impressive cultivars like 'Bonfire' (burgandy foliage) and 'First Blush' (variegated with pink edges) that add additional foliage color through the year. I grow all of them!
On Sep 30, 2009, mslehv from Columbus, OH (Zone 5b) wrote:
I’m a physician who recently had a fairly severe eye injury from the toxic residues of Euphorbia polychroma. I actually discovered the cause of my eye problem about ten days after the injury and only quite by accident while researching a problem with the plant itself. However, after combing the plant and medical literature it was pretty clear that most of the Euphorbias (particularly the milky latex of the succulents) have some ocular toxicity ranging from mere irritation to blindness.
My experience was that under the proper conditions, E. polychroma also can cause a significant eye injury requiring prolonged medical treatment. Those conditions may include high ambient air temperatures and humidity, mechanical abrasion of the leaves and roots and prolonged contact with the . read more plant. The plant residues may remain on the hands despite casual washing. Plant residues in the scalp hair may re-irritate the eyes when the hair is washed and unusual scalp lesions may be present.
On Jun 18, 2008, glacierdawg from Juneau, AK wrote:
I've grown this plant in many climactic conditions, from hot, dry alkalai soil in southwest Idaho to cool, moist acid soil in Southeast Alaska. It has preforemed well in all locations. The vivid yellow is especiall effective in the overcast conditions of coastal Alaska. It glows on gray, gloomy days. As to becoming invasive, that hasn't been a problem with this species.
On Apr 7, 2007, flowerfloosey from Sonora, CA wrote:
I love this plant. I love how it is such a perfect mounding plant and the yellow is electric when it blooms. I have it at the front edge of my perinnial garden in my California foothill locale zone 7. It is deer resistant and after bloom, the folage is attractive. It looks great paired with blue forget- me- nots or late red tulips. Everyone that sees it wonders what it is and wants one. I have recently divided it by root cuttings in late winter and it is blooming along with the bigger plant. Wish I had enough to edge my whole garden with it! Mine is callled candy and I got it at the San Francisco Garden show a few years ago from Digging Dog or Cottage garden nursery.
On Mar 21, 2007, berrygirl from Braselton, GA (Zone 8a) wrote:
EUPHORBIA POLYCHROMA Cushion Spurge - Short 14" - Plant 12" apart. Zone 3-8 Forms a globe shaped mound with attractive foliage. Related to the poinsettia, its outer bracts turn a colorful chrome yellow in early summer, then red in fall.
Deer Resistant, Good for hot dry spots. Drought tolerant. Can spread quickly in overly moist soil.
No special care needed. Can be cut back by a third after flowering to prevent seeding. Does not like to be transplanted once established. Some people are sensitive to the milky sap, so take care when shearing.
On May 3, 2006, Sarahskeeper from Brockton, MA (Zone 6a) wrote:
A lovely non-invasive, long lived perennial.
Makes a big yellow mound at the same time as the late Tulips.
The seed may not breed true. No fragrance.
Easily pruned to stay in shape later in the season.
On Mar 25, 2006, SW_gardener from (Zone 6a) wrote:
Easy to grow. I grow mine in clay soil in part shade, and, it increases in size fairly quick forming a nice mound. Yellow flowers with bracts in the spring. and together they look like their glowing. I hoping to divide mine this year, I will have had it 2 years this summer. EXCELLENT plant. Is not invasive and would highly recommend.
It is perfectly possible to grow your spurges in a pot. It’s even a brilliant idea for your decks, patios and balconies.
- For that, find a container that has a hole at the bottom for drainage.
- Plant the spurge in all-purpose, planting or horticultural soil mix.
- Avoid emplacements that might get too hot. Partial shade is actually recommended.
- More regular watering is a good idea, with mulch at the foot of the spurge.
- Water as soon as the soil is dry, for in pots the soil dries up much faster.
Leucophyta brownii ‘Silver Nugget’ or dwarf cushion bush is a small Australian native member of the daisy family. It has tiny hairs growing all over its leaves, giving the plant a silver appearance. The hairs reflect heat, reduce the rate of transpiration and shade the tissues below from intense light. Cushion bushes grow beautifully in seaside gardens.
Common name: Dwarf Cushion Bush
Botanic name: Leucophyta brownii ‘Silver Nugget’ (formerly Calocephalus brownii).
Plants are named following an international naming code, the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature. In 1959 it was decided Latin should no longer be used for the naming of new plant varieties (cultivars). Instead it was recommended that a common language (in Australia, this would be English) should be used. This was done to simplify plant names for gardeners and nurseries.
Description: Dense, rounded shrub growing to around 1m high and 1m wide (3’x3′). It has silvery grey scale-like leaves and inconspicuous yellow flowers in summer.
Best climate: Coastal areas of southern Australia.
seaside gardens hot, dry gardens foliage contrast plant
attractive silver foliage highly resistant to sea spray seldom needs watering once established
Short lived – renew plants by taking cuttings in summer
Cushion bushes like a sunny position with good drainage and air movement. They do not like high humidity.
Ask for cushion bushes at your local nursery. A plant in a 150mm (6″) pot costs around $8.95.
A tiny plant with big appeal. Beautiful blue-green foliage forms a dense, smooth mass so perfectly rounded it brings a sculptural quality to the garden. Plant near dark green or burgundy-leafed plants for great color contrast. Requires excellent soil drainage for best performance.
Also known as “Cushion Bolax” because it forms a low, neat cushion of foliage. Incredibly tough for such a demure-looking plant, it can even tolerate a light amount of foot traffic. The jagged leaves form a rosette of foliage set off by little ball-like clusters of flowers in the…
Leucophyta brownii – Cushion Bush
A great native shrub or ground cover plant, Leucophyta brownii is commonly called the Cushion Bush.
It forms neat little rounded clumps and has great silvery grey foliage. It is drought tolerant, grows well in poor soils and is also low maintenance.
Growing naturally in exposed coastal areas from Western Australia through to Victoria and also in Tasmania, it can be found growing in all sorts of difficult situations.
Some of the the Tasmanian forms are lower growing and will reach only 30 – 40 cm in height. Leucophyta brownii ‘Silver-Cloud’ is a recommended variety.
Given lots of sun and a well drained soil, the Cushion Bush is almost indestructible, all you need to do is leave it alone.
Simply plant it, water it in, take care of it over the first summer and that is it. It should not be pruned as this will ruin the shape. And it will not need fertiliser except in the poorest of soils.
You can also propagate from cuttings.
Leucophyta brownii ‘Silver-Cloud’