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Snow Plant Cerastium tomentosum

Phonetic Spelling
ser-ASS-tee-um toh-MEN-toh-sum
Description

Snow-in-summer is a low-growing, herbaceous perennial that will form a 6-inch tall mat of attractive narrow leaves. The plant spreads by underground runners and makes a good ground cover; however, it is a short-lived plant that may result in dead patches in a covered area. In late spring to early summer, stems with showy star-shaped white flowers will protrude 8 to 12 inches above the ground-covering mat. Each stem can produce up to 15 blooms. A native of Italy, the numerous blooms on Snow-in-summer form a carpet of white, hence its common name. The genus name comes from the Greek word keras meaning horn in reference to the seed capsule which in some species is bent slightly like a cow’s horn. The specific epithet is in reference to the plant's woolly white leaves and stems.

Self-seeding will occur if the spent blooms are not removed.  Divide every few years in the spring or fall.  Propagation can also be done from cuttings in early summer.  Pruning should not be done in the fall, wait until spring. The plant is deer resistant and does well in poor, dry, sandy, well-drained soils in full sun. It can tolerate a wide range of soils except for poorly-drained ones, which inevitably lead to root rot. It does well in cool summer climates but is less successful in the high summer heat and humidity of the deep South. Large beds can be mowed on a high setting.

Insects, Diseases and Other Plant Problems:  Root rot can occur in locations where good drainage is not provided.  It does not tolerate foot traffic.  It can be weedy in locations with cooler summer climates where the plant is robust and there are less invasive, more compact cultivars of this species available.  Does not perform well in climates with high humidity or in a location with insufficient sunlight. 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Columnae'
    Lower 4" mat, less invasive.
  • 'Olympia'
    Forms a tidy clump of evergreen, silvery foliage 6-8 inches tall and up to 18" wide.
  • 'Silberteppich' or Silver Carpet
    'Silberteppich', or SILVER CARPET, is a less aggressive spreader with frosty, silver-gray foliage on compact plants.
  • 'Yoyo'
    Compact and less agressive.
'Columnae', 'Olympia', 'Silberteppich' or Silver Carpet, 'Yoyo'
Tags:
#evergreen#drought tolerant#low growing#weedy#winter interest#high maintenance#herbaceous#spreading#deer resistant#low growing plant#herbaceous perennials#attractive leaves#groundcover#reseeds#self-seeding#short lifespan#poor soils tolerant#winter hardy#dry soils tolerant#groundcovers that can be mowed#heat intolerant#humidity intolerant#short-lived perennials#showy#mat forming#flowering#dense#bees
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Columnae'
    Lower 4" mat, less invasive.
  • 'Olympia'
    Forms a tidy clump of evergreen, silvery foliage 6-8 inches tall and up to 18" wide.
  • 'Silberteppich' or Silver Carpet
    'Silberteppich', or SILVER CARPET, is a less aggressive spreader with frosty, silver-gray foliage on compact plants.
  • 'Yoyo'
    Compact and less agressive.
'Columnae', 'Olympia', 'Silberteppich' or Silver Carpet, 'Yoyo'
Tags:
#evergreen#drought tolerant#low growing#weedy#winter interest#high maintenance#herbaceous#spreading#deer resistant#low growing plant#herbaceous perennials#attractive leaves#groundcover#reseeds#self-seeding#short lifespan#poor soils tolerant#winter hardy#dry soils tolerant#groundcovers that can be mowed#heat intolerant#humidity intolerant#short-lived perennials#showy#mat forming#flowering#dense#bees
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Cerastium
    Species:
    tomentosum
    Family:
    Caryophyllaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Root Cutting
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Italy, Corse & Sicilia
    Distribution:
    Introduced into the United States from Alaska, to Northwestern states, and eastern down to North Carolina. Also grown in the UK and Iberian peninsula.
    Wildlife Value:
    Bees are attracted to the flowers.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Easy to Grow
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 6 in. - 1 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 9 in. - 1 ft. 6 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Ground Cover
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Perennial
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Ascending
    Creeping
    Dense
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    High
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    Less than 12 inches
    NC Region:
    Mountains
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4b, 4a, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7b, 7a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Cylindrical, slightly curved capsules. Small nonshowy fruit.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Star
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Bracts
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Displays a bundle of 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch 5-petaled white flowers in late spring into June.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Velvety
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Linear
    Oblong
    Leaf Margin:
    Undulate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    One inch, narrow, grayish-green leaves covered with soft-textured whitish hairs. Oblong to lance-shaped. Leaves (1 inch long and 1/4 inch wide) form a 6 inch tall foliage mat.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Bud Terminal:
    Cluster of terminal buds
    Stem Cross Section:
    Round
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Description:
    Wiry branching stems with up to 15 showy star-shaped white flowers will protrude 8 to 12 inches above the ground.
  • Landscape:
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Poor Soil
    Problems:
    Short-lived
    Weedy