FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Antennaria neglecta is a mat forming perennial groundcover in the Aster Family. Plants are evergreen with spatulate or spoon shaped silvery felted leaves. White puffy flowers appear in late spring and early summer. Culture is easy as long as plants have sun and well drained soil.
HABITAT & HARDINESS: This diminutive native is found in prairies, dry meadows, sloped open woodlands and in disturbed sites like eroded banks or abandoned fields. Ranges from Eastern United States as far south as Virginia and into parts of the Western United Stated and Canada.
Plants are hardy in USDA Zones 3-8.
PLANT DESCRIPTION: Antennaria neglecta spreads from horizontal stolons that creep along the ground. Plants eventually form a 4-6” tall matted colony.
Leaves resemble a smaller version of sage or lamb’s ear. They are clothed in silver-gray hairs and are about 2” long with a smooth margin.
In spring, established plants produce dense white flower heads. The flowers are held on short stalks above the foliage at about 1’ height. Each head is oval and fluffy and similar in appearance to a sweet little kitten’s paw.
Flowers are dioecious with plants producing either pistillate (female) flowers or staminate (male) flowers. Both sexes must be present for pollination and seed formation to occur. Small bees or flies transfer the pollen as they seek nectar.
Plants are less than 1’ tall with a 1’ spread at maturity.
CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDS: Antennaria neglecta prefers sun but will tolerate part sun.
Plants grow best in a well drained soil. They tolerate clay, drought and alkaline soils and are resistant to pests. Foliage is usually not palatable to deer, rabbits or livestock.
LANDSCAPE USES: Antennaria neglecta is an excellent candidate for a rock garden. This plant is also used as an Accent, Butterfly Nectar Plant, Butterfly Host Plant, Groundcover, Grouping or Mass Planting. It provides Showy Blooms, Winter Interest and is a valuable component of Cottage Gardens, Deer Resistant Plantings, Water-wise Landscapes, Low Maintenance Plantings, Meadow or Prairie Gardens, Perennial Borders and Wildlife Gardens.
COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS: Grows well in front or as a carpet around brightly blooming prairie or meadow plants like Coreopsis tripteris, Echinacea purpurea, Asclepias tuberosa or Liatris aspera.
If this plant is not available, Silene caroliniana or Chrysogonum virginianum would provide a similar mat forming growth habit. However these 2 would need a bit more moisture and probably some shade.
TRIVIA: This plant is allelopathic. It secretes chemicals that suppress growth and may stunt neighboring plants.
The staminate (male) flowers have dark colored exerted stamens that project from the white flowers. The genus name Antennaria is due to the fact that the protruding stamens resemble insect antennae.
Host for the American Painted Lady Butterfly caterpillar.
Flower heads are discoid and are a conglomeration of tubular disc flowers. Plants have no ray flowers.
Pussytoes are also known as "Early Everlastings". Like statice and other everlasting flowers, these can be dehydrated and used in dried flower arrangements.