How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Pearly Everlasting

If you’re looking for a plant with flowers that resemble the ocean’s finest jewels, check out pearly everlasting. In this article, gardener Briana Yablonski shares how to care for this hardy native perennial.

Close-up of a blooming pearly everlasting plant in a sunny garden. Pearly Everlasting is a perennial herbaceous plant with a striking appearance characterized by clusters of small, creamy-white flowers arranged in flattened, button-like heads atop slender stems. These flowers contrast beautifully with the plant's silvery-gray foliage, which is lance-shaped and densely covered in fine hairs.


When you think of beautiful wildflowers, you may imagine bright pink coneflowers or cheerful yellow coreopsis. But pearly everlasting reminds us that subdued flowers can be just as beautiful as more colorful blooms.

This plant produces clusters of tiny white and yellow flowers atop gray-green stems. The flowers glow like an oyster’s prized pearl, begging you to stop and take a second glance. Not only do these plants produce beautiful flowers, but they’re also easy to grow.

Join me as I cover some of the special features of this perennial plant and explain how to grow it at home.


Close-up of blooming Pearly Everlasting against a blurred background of gray-green foliage. Anaphalis margaritacea features clusters of small, delicate, creamy-white flowers arranged in flattened, button-like heads atop slender stems. These flowers are complemented by lance-shaped leaves with silvery-gray foliage, densely covered in fine hairs, lending the plant a soft, velvety texture.
Plant Type Flowering perennial
Family Asteraceae
Genus Anaphalis
Species margaritacea
Native Area North America
Exposure Full sun to partial shade
Height 9-36 inches
Watering Requirements Low to Moderate
Pests & Diseases Stem rot and leaf spot
Maintenance Low maintenance 
Soil Type Well-draining and loose; can tolerate poor soils
Hardiness Zone 3-8

What is Pearly Everlasting?

Close-up of blooming Anaphalis margaritacea in a sunny garden. Anaphalis margaritacea, commonly known as Pearly Everlasting, is a perennial herbaceous plant distinguished by its clusters of small, creamy-white flowers arranged in flattened, button-like heads atop slender stems. These delicate blooms contrast beautifully with the plant's lance-shaped leaves, which feature silvery-gray foliage.
Find these iridescent blooms in various landscapes across the U.S.

The first time I saw pearly everlasting, I was wandering through an open woodland in Northern Minnesota. As I searched for ripe red thimbleberries beneath an understory of spruce and birch, a cluster of white, iridescent spheres caught my eye. I bent down, held the flowers in my hand, and marveled at the pointed white “petals” surrounding mustard yellow centers.

I later learned this is a common wildflower throughout much of the United States. It pops in poor soils that many other plants avoid and provides year-round interest to the garden. The flowers remain on the plant even after they dry, and delicate white hairs cover the mint-green foliage.


Close-up of a blooming plant against a blurred green background. It boasts clusters of small, creamy-white flowers arranged in flattened, button-like heads atop slender stems. These blooms are strikingly striking with the plant's lance-shaped leaves, which are densely covered in fine, silvery-white hairs.
This is a perennial with grayish-green foliage and small white flowers.

Anaphalis margaritacea is a vegetative perennial with light grayish-green foliage. The plants produce long, thin stems covered with elongated leaves that point upwards. Plants often produce clusters of individual stems, creating the appearance of a small shrub. Pearly everlasting grows up to three feet tall but sometimes remains shorter in shaded or drought-stressed conditions.

During the summer, the stems produce small white and yellow flower clusters. Each plant produces only male or female flowers, and if you look closely, you can see the difference between the two types. Female flowers feature groups of tiny yellow flowers surrounded by white, modified leaves called bracts. Male flowers look very similar, but the yellow blooms have dark yellow stamens rising up from each flower.

The flowers keep their shape when they lose moisture, so they work well for dried flower arrangements and wreaths.

Native Area

Close-up of blooming Anaphalis margaritacea under the sun with rocks in the background. The plant features clusters of small, creamy-white flowers arranged in flattened, button-like heads atop slender stems. These delicate blooms are complemented by lance-shaped leaves adorned with silvery-gray foliage.
Anaphalis margaritacea is the sole native North American everlasting plant.

While there are many different species of everlasting plants, Anaphalis margaritacea is the only one native to North America. You can find this plant everywhere from northern Canada and Alaska all the way south to parts of northern Mexico. It’s native to most of the United States, except for the Deep South.


Close-up of blooming Anaphalis margaritacea in a sunny garden among asphalt slabs. Blooming Anaphalis margaritacea, commonly known as Pearly Everlasting, showcases clusters of small, delicate, creamy-white flowers densely packed in flattened, button-like heads. These elegant blooms contrast beautifully with the plant's lance-shaped leaves, which are covered in silvery-gray foliage densely coated in fine hairs.
This stunning plant thrives alongside other native wildflowers.

This medium-height perennial grows best directly in the ground. Try planting it with other flowering natives like yarrow, coneflower, rudbeckia, and coreopsis to create a beautiful mixed meadow.

Since these plants can survive in poor soil, they’re a great option for areas that contain bits of gravel or brick from previous land use and plots with rocky ground. Plus, they can tolerate moderate drought! However, they’ll grow more quickly if you plant them in an area with rich and moderately moist soil.

Although it isn’t invasive, this wildflower can spread quickly in the ideal growing environment. So keep that in mind if you want a small plant. If you’re worried about the plants taking over the rest of your flower bed, you can contain them with landscaping edging.

Like with most perennials, spring and fall are the best times to plant this flower. Plant seedlings after the last spring frost or about a month before the first fall frost.


Close-up of several plants planted in a row under a stone wall under the sun. (Anaphalis margaritacea) are characterized by slender stems bearing clusters of small, creamy-white flowers arranged in flattened, button-like heads. These delicate blooms contrast beautifully with the lance-shaped leaves, which feature silvery-gray foliage densely covered in fine hairs, giving them a soft, velvety texture. The stems are upright and slender, supporting the clusters of flowers above the foliage.
Transplant healthy seedlings in spring or fall.

Transplanting is the easiest way to establish this flowering perennial. Whether you purchase seedlings at a garden store or grow your own transplants at home, growing from established plants gives your flower garden a head start. While mid-spring is a great time to transplant seedlings, you can also add them to your garden in early fall.

The first step is to obtain a healthy transplant. Look for plants with foliage free from pests, discoloration, and any other signs of disease. Plant size isn’t important, but you should look for plants without flowers. Flower production requires a lot of energy, so choosing a plant without flowers helps it develop a robust root system in the early stages.

Next, find a suitable location for your new plant(s). Remember that wildflowers mostly prefer full sun, but they can also tolerate a few hours of shade or dappled light. They grow well in an open, exposed area and near a forest edge.

Dig a hole just a little larger than the plant’s root ball, place the seedling in the hole, and cover it with soil. If you’re planting multiple seedlings, space them two to three feet apart. Water the plants well and keep the soil moist for the next few weeks. Once the plants have acclimated to their new homes and begun to develop roots, they’ll be able to handle drier soil.

Growing from Seed

Close-up of dry flowers and seed heads against a blurred garden background. The plant is characterized by clusters of small, papery, creamy-white flowers tightly packed into flattened, button-like heads atop slender stems. The seed heads develop within these dried flower clusters, appearing as small, brownish dots nestled among the papery petals.
Grow from seed through cold stratification or winter sowing.

Another option is to grow from seed. Since these seeds need a period of cold stratification to germinate, they’re good candidates for winter sowing.

One option is to plant the seeds directly in the ground anytime from late fall to late winter. Just sprinkle the seeds in the area you’d like them to grow, cover them with half an inch of soil, and walk away. The seeds will sit dormant throughout the winter and germinate when the ideal conditions arrive.

Another option is to winter sow the seeds in containers and later transplant the seedlings into your garden. Fill a container with a well-draining potting mix, sprinkle the seeds on the surface, then cover with a thin layer of soil. Water well, then place the containers outdoors to expose the seeds to cold temperatures. This mimics their natural lifecycle in the wild. Once the seedlings develop their first set of true leaves, you can pot them up into a larger container and eventually transplant them into your garden.

How to Grow

As long as you plant pearly everlasting in a suitable growing environment, it’s easy to care for. The most challenging part is helping new plants become established in their new homes, so give your plants extra attention during their first few weeks of growth.


Close-up of flowering Anaphalis margaritacea plants in a sunny garden. Anaphalis margaritacea, commonly known as Pearly Everlasting, presents clusters of small, delicate, creamy-white flowers arranged in flattened, button-like heads atop slender stems. These elegant blooms contrast beautifully with the plant's lance-shaped leaves, which are adorned with silvery-gray foliage densely covered in fine hairs, lending them a soft, velvety texture.
This plant thrives in full sun but tolerates partial shade.

This native flower is happiest in full sun, but can also tolerate partial shade. That means you can plant it in an open garden bed, near a forest edge, or in the dappled light of a shade tree.


Close-up of flowering Anaphalis margaritacea, commonly known as pearly everlasting plants, covered with raindrops. It features clusters of small, button-like white flowers with yellow centers that resemble pearls. These flowers are borne atop slender, erect stems and are surrounded by narrow, silvery-green leaves that are densely arranged along the stems.
This species is drought-tolerant but prefers moderately moist soil.

Although this wildflower is drought-tolerant, it prefers moderately moist soil. The plants can survive dry soil, but their foliage often dries out and becomes lackluster during drought.

Regardless of the soil moisture levels for mature plants, make sure to keep the soil moderately moist for the weeks following transplanting. Check the soil about every other day and water when the top inch is dry.


Close-up of female hand holding soil in the garden. The girl is wearing a brown-pink sweater. The soil is dry, lumpy, dark brown in color.
This wildflower will grow in well-drained soils, including poor soils.

Anaphalis margaritacea isn’t picky about soil type as long as it’s well-draining. The plants grow well in sand, rocky soils, and well-draining clay.

They don’t require rich soil or lots of organic matter and can thrive in poor soils where many other plants struggle. 

Temperature and Humidity

Close-up of blooming Pearly everlasting flowers in a sunny garden. Anaphalis margaritacea is characterized by small, round clusters of white blossoms with yellow centers. These delicate blooms resemble pearls, hence the plant's common name. These flowers are arranged in dense, button-like clusters atop slender stems
It tolerates various temperatures in USDA zones 3-8.

Pearly everlasting can tolerate various temperatures and is suited to USDA hardiness zones 3 through 8. While harsh winter cold isn’t a problem, the plants will have difficulty growing if the winters remain warm.

Humidity isn’t a concern—the plants will be happy in both low and high humidity.


Close-up of a woman's hand in a white glove pouring granular mineral fertilizers onto the soil in the garden. These fertilizers consist of round, gray granules.
Plants thriving in wild settings do not need regular fertilizer.

Considering that these plants happily grow in abandoned lots and roadsides, it makes sense they don’t require regular doses of fertilizer. As long as your plants look healthy, you don’t have to worry about supplying extra nutrients. Adding fertilizer can actually lead to problems with pests.


Close-up of a blooming Anaphalis margaritacea against a blurred background of gray-green foliage. Anaphalis margaritacea, commonly known as pearly everlasting, presents clusters of small, button-like white flowers with yellow centers, reminiscent of pearls, atop slender stems. These delicate blooms are complemented by narrow, silvery-green leaves densely arranged along the stems.
Native perennials require minimal upkeep, aiding habitat and potential spreading.

Like most native perennials, pearly everlasting requires very little maintenance. While you can cut the stems back in the fall to tidy up the garden, this isn’t necessary. Leaving them intact not only limits your garden workload but also provides habitat for critters over the winter.

While the plants don’t require much help to thrive, they sometimes grow a bit too well. In ideal environments, a single plant can take over an area with the help of spreading underground stolons. Dividing the plant’s above and below-ground parts can help keep it contained and allow space for other plants. I’ll further explain how to divide these plants below.


Propagation is easy by both division and seeds. Dividing the plants not only allows you to share the plant with friends, but it also helps keep sprawling plants from taking over your garden. Alternatively, saving seeds is a fun way to share your plants with long-distance gardening pals.


Close-up of Anaphalis margaritacea blooming in a flower bed. This plant presents a captivating sight in the garden with its clusters of small, pearl-like white flowers adorning slender, wiry stems. These delicate blooms form a striking contrast against the backdrop of silvery-green foliage.
Easily propagate this perennial by division in the spring.

Division is the easiest way to propagate this perennial. Not only does it give you new plants to add to your garden or share with friends, but it also helps manage overgrown plants. Thinning plants increases airflow, prevents fungal diseases, and makes room for other types of plants.

Once spring arrives, divide your plants following these steps:

  1. Look for a plant that’s at least six inches in diameter.
  2. Use a shovel to dig up the entire plant.
  3. It’s okay to have some extra soil attached to the roots, so aim for digging up too much rather than too little.
  4. Shake off excess soil to give you a better look at the roots.
  5. Separate the plant’s roots into multiple sections.
  6. You may be able to tease the roots apart with your hands, but you can also use a knife or pair of pruning shears to cut them.
  7. Each division should have at least three shoots and a section of healthy roots.
  8. Replant each division in a new location.
  9. Alternatively place it in a soil-filled container if you want to share your plant with others.


Close-up of Pearly Everlasting's dry flowers and seed heads against a blurred background. The once-creamy-white flowers transition into persistent, papery structures that resemble everlasting blooms. The seed heads, formed from the remnants of the flowers, contain small, dark seeds within each papery bract.
Collect seeds from mature flower heads in early fall.

Saving seeds is another way you can multiply and share pearly everlasting plants. However, you must have both a male and female plant in the same area for viable seeds to form. Only the female plants will form seeds.

The best time to collect seeds is the early fall after the flowers have produced mature seeds topped with fluffy bristles. Grab a cluster of mature seed heads and place them in a paper bag. The actual seeds are the small, dark bits.

You can plant the seeds that fall or store them in a cool, dry place for future planting.


Close-up of blooming Pearly everlasting in a sunny garden. Pearly everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea) is a charming perennial plant characterized by its dense clusters of small, button-like flowers that resemble delicate pearls.These white to pale pink blooms sit atop slender, silver-gray stems, surrounded by narrow, silvery-green leaves.
This plant supports wildlife as a host plant and nectar source.

As a native wildflower, pearly everlasting benefits wildlife in a few ways. First, it serves as a host plant for the American lady and painted lady butterflies. Both of these species lay their eggs on the plant, and the emergent caterpillars eat its foliage.

Pearly everlasting also provides nectar and pollen for various insects, including butterflies, moths, green lacewings, and ladybugs. These beneficial insects keep your garden healthy by feeding on insect pests and pollinating flowers.

When it comes to adding beauty to the garden, pearly everlasting offers multiple uses. Its subdued foliage and flowers provide a nice contrast to brighter and more colorful plants like coneflowers and coreopsis. The small flowers also hold up well in a vase and work well as filler flowers. Since they keep their shape when dry, they’re also perfect for dried flower arrangements.

Common Problems

Close-up Painted lady caterpillar on pearly everlasting leaf in a sunny garden. The Painted lady caterpillar is a striking creature with a distinct appearance featuring a black body covered in fine, short hairs, adorned with yellowish-orange rings and rows of black spines along its back.
This perennial is low-maintenance with minimal pest and disease concerns.

Pearly everlasting is a pretty carefree plant. While you may occasionally spot a caterpillar munching on the plants’ leaves, these plants don’t have any serious pests. As far as diseases go, keep an eye out for stem rot and leaf spot.

The main issues gardeners face with pearly everlasting are poor, spindly growth or out-of-control growth. The former typically results from too little moisture or light, so try watering your plants if they look sad. Too much growth isn’t necessarily a bad thing since it indicates happy plants. However, if your plants are taking over your garden, dig them up and divide them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still want to learn more about pearly everlasting? Check out these frequently asked questions.

Is pearly everlasting invasive?

Although pearly everlasting can grow rapidly with the right conditions, it’s not considered an invasive plant. It is native to the United States and rarely takes over other plants. It is easy to remove.

What can I plant with pearly everlasting?

Pearly everlasting grows well with other native perennial plants. Try planting it with coneflower, yarrow, coreopsis, butterfly weed, and ironweed.

How do you dry pearly everlasting flowers?

Wait until the flowers are just beginning to open, then cut the stems so they’re a foot long. Tie the stems together and hang them upside down in a cool, dry place out of direct light. The flowers will be fully dry within a few weeks.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for an easy-to-grow native wildflower, consider pearly everlasting. Not only do these plants flourish with minimal care, but they also work well with other native flowers and shrubs.

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