How to grow artemisia?


The Art of Artemisias

White mugwort (A. lactiflora), a close relative, is tall and arching, its leaves midgreen and deeply divided with no silver on the reverse. Tiny cream-white flowers with a hawthorn-vanilla scent are borne in loose 2-foot plumes; those of the Guizhou Group show up especially well against their purple stems. In China, white mugwort is used to flavor soups and other dishes.

I treasure white mugwort for its shrubby yet moderate growth (it’s not invasive) and its scented flower sprays in late summer, a time when fresh flowers are most appreciated. Adaptable to moist or dry soil, to sun or part shade, it will grow 6 feet tall in rich soil and may then need staking in windy sites. For shorter, bushier plants that don’t need staking, cut plants back by half in midsummer; blooming will be delayed but just as prolific. Space plants 3 feet apart, or 2 feet if making a hedge. Dig out any excess root growth in the spring to limit the plants’ slow spread.

I plant white mugwort wherever I need a large shrub as an accent. Its foaming feather plumes rise up like a ghostly apparition among red and deep pink monardas and the purple-flowered spikes of anise hyssop. White mugwort flower sprays, fresh or dried, are nice in bouquets, and I add the dried flowers to potpourri.


Although poisonous in large doses, common wormwood (A. absinthium) has been used in minute quantities to treating digestive disorders. A word of caution: wormwood’s strong aroma may cause headaches and a bitter taste if you handle the fresh or dried plant for extended periods.

A shrubby plant that grows from a woody base, wormwood’s stems bear aromatic, deeply divided, velvety gray leaves. Several plants, spaced 2 feet apart and left untrimmed, will form a 3-foot-tall loose hedge, a striking background for purple coneflower in the late summer and fall. As established plants become woody, they can be rejuvenated by clipping back hard in the spring, or new plants may be started from stem cuttings taken in the spring or by simply breaking off and planting clumps of tender new growth with roots attached. ‘Lambrook Silver’, an attractive, compact form that grows 21/2 feet tall, has luxuriant silvery foliage and grayish flowers that combine well with bright monardas. I clip stems in midsummer just as the flowers form, bundle the stems with a rubber band, then hang them to dry in a closet where woolens are stored. The scent repels clothes moths. I also like to combine the dried leaves with tansy, southernwood, and clove oil, then fill net bags with the mixture and slip them among stored clothes and sweaters. In the fall, I cut wormwood plants back to just above their woody base.

Sweet Annie (A. annua) is a 6-foot-tall treelike annual, wide at its base, tapering to a point at its top, with soft, filmy branches of much-divided bright green foliage and numerous tiny golden flowers, all bearing a warm citrus aroma with a camphoraceous note that some find bothersome but others find irresistible. Where summers are long and hot, sweet Annie tends to self-sow, but here in Zone 4, I have to raise seedlings indoors. The seeds germinate readily at 70°F with bottom heat. Sweet Annie needs room to spread at the back of the garden; it’s best planted against a fence to show off its lovely branches.

To use in wreaths and swags, cut the plant down while the leaves are still bright green and the flowers bright gold. Although Chinese sweet Annie has some fragrance when dry, it is more tolerable to those allergic to the familiar, more heavily scented form; its darker stems and small, paler flowers contrast nicely with those of the ordinary type.

Long used to flavor vermouth, Roman wormwood (A. pontica) makes a frothy mound of lacy foliage up to 21/2 feet tall; the richer the soil, the looser the growth, especially if left untrimmed. Its relatively low form, amenable to clipping, suggests its use in knot gardens, where its intricately cut soft gray leaves contrast effectively with green-foliaged herbs such as germander and boxwood. I grow Roman wormwood as a mounding accent near the base of purply rugosa roses and in a border of mixed perennial herbs and flowers against the dark purple spires of the ornamental Salvia nemorosa ‘Ostfriesland’.


Roman wormwood’s invasive underground runners are not a problem because they are easily pulled up. I clip my plants back to the ground in the fall to control their growth and promote fresh foliage in the spring.

With herbal uses similar to those of common wormwood, tree wormwood (A. arborescens) is an upright shrub with finely divided silver-gray fringy foliage that can grow to 3 feet but is dwarfed to 2 feet in a container. Because it’s hardy only in Zones 8 and 9, I grow it in a tub that’s easy to move indoors before the first frost. As insurance, I also pull 4- to 5-inch-long lateral branches with a woody heel off the main stem during the summer; they root at 70°F in four to six weeks. I trim off the small yellow flowers when they appear on the mother plant, for the foliage alone is more striking among the vivid purple spikes of Veronica ‘Sunny Border Blue’. The 2-foot-tall ‘Powis Castle’, thought to be a cross between tree wormwood and common wormwood, is perhaps a zone or two more winter-hardy but still not hardy with me. A more compact plant with bushier foliage, it, too, can be grown to advantage in a tub and propagated the same way as tree wormwood.


If left untrimmed, southernwood, or old man (A. abrotanum), grows into a 3-foot-tall, 3-foot-wide, sprawling, never-fail shrub that I call “poor man’s lavender” for its ability to grow reliably in all but the dampest of garden soils. A favorite in English cottage gardens, its gray-green feathery foliage with a lemony-camphorous scent repels moths and provides aromatic sprigs for country-love posies symbolizing constancy. Folk names such as lad’s love and maiden’s ruin refer to its use in ointments intended to promote beard growth—and by association, male virility. Besides serving as an attractive, shrubby foil for roses, southernwood is invaluable for covering hard soil in an exposed, sunny site where little else will grow. To shape it into a 1-foot-tall mound, clip back stems to 6 inches in the spring and again in early summer. Almost any piece of stem, especially one taken near the base of the plant, will grow to bush size over two seasons when inserted directly into weed-free, well-drained soil. I save my clippings for scenting drawers and closets and for steeping in cider vinegar with other cooling herbs, such as mints, to make a skin freshener.

A citrus-scented form, sometimes offered as ‘Tangerine’ or tree southernwood, is a striking columnar plant that grows to 6 feet tall; it’s well worth looking for in specialty herb nurseries.

Ornamental artemisias

The ornamentals include tall cultivars of western mugwort (A. ludoviciana) as well as ground-hugging silvermound (A. schmidtiana ‘Nana’) and beach wormwood (A. stelleriana).

‘Silver King’, the tallest of the western mugworts, widely used in wreaths, has an abundance of narrow leaves growing in tufts on alternate sides of gray stems. The foliage is silvery green on one side and pure silver on the other; upfacing leaves give the plant a light gray cast (it is also called ghost plant). In late summer, just at harvest time, the plant produces panicles of yellowish flowers. If you don’t want to spoil the appearance of the garden by cutting the stems for wreaths, consider starting a cutting garden of ‘Silver King’. A few small starts will quickly form a solid mat of plants. I grow ‘Silver King’ at the back of a mixed border, where it is a cool foil for the colorful bracts of annual clary sage (Salvia viridis) and a contrast in color and form to green mounds of rue (Ruta graveolens). ‘Silver Queen’, which grows to 21/2 feet, and ‘Valerie Finnis’, which reaches 2 feet, are compact variations on the same silvery theme.

I grow silvermound in the corners of timber-edged raised beds. Its silky, shimmering foliage forms 8-by-18-inch mounds that entirely cover the sharp corners, creating a low backdrop for the bluish sprawling foliage of Dianthus plumarius ‘Ballade Strain’, purple-flowered Allium senescens, and tufts of blue fescue. For a stunning silver-on-silver contrast in textures, pair fine-foliaged silvermound with the huge, ruffled, silvery blue leaves of Salvia argentea. To keep the former from collapsing in the center, shear plants in midsummer to encourage fresh growth and divide the mound regularly in the spring.

Beach wormwood, a native artemisia that grows in great sprawling patches on beaches throughout the Northeast, looks like a hardy version of dusty miller (Senecio cineraria). In light soil with sunny exposure, it keeps grass at bay along paths and at the garden’s edge by luxuriantly spreading its thick white, deeply cut leaves over the soil. Gertrude Jekyll grew it to great effect with the blues, purples, and pinks of delphiniums, salvias, and pinks. It may also be grown as a ground cover and in hanging baskets, especially the cultivar ‘Boughton Silver’. Shear plants back when the small yellow flowers appear to promote the growth of fresh foliage.

Jo Ann Gardner, a frequent Herb Companion contributor, lives and works on a backland farm on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada, where she and her husband, Jigs, have been creating gardens of use and delight for nearly three decades. Her latest book is Herbs in Bloom (Timber Press, 1998).

Artemisia schmidtiana ‘Silver Mound’

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Artemisia schmidtiana Silver Mound


‘Silver Mound’ Artemisia is one of the most striking examples of silver leaved perennials. The fine, feathery foliage makes a tight cushiony mound in dry sites, and retains the attractive habit throughout the summer if periodically given a light trim. Artemisia ‘Silver Mound’ does bloom periodically, but the flowers are insignificant and should be removed to maintain the silver cushion look. The low compact size of ‘Silver Mound’ makes it a good candidate for rock gardens and summer containers.


12 Inches


18 Inches

USDA Hardiness Zone


Current Availability

Qty Avail Description Future Crop
37 Artemisia schmidtiana Silver Mound #2 75

Characteristics & Attributes


Deer Resistant
Fragrant – Foliage
Habit: Compact
Soil Conditions



Drought Tolerant
Foliage Color


Companion Plants to Artemisia schmidtiana ‘Silver Mound’Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’
Hybrid Sage Iris siberica ‘Caesar’s Brother’
Siberian Iris Stachys byzantina ‘Helene von Stein’
Lamb’s Ear Similar Plants to Artemisia schmidtiana ‘Silver Mound’ Artemisia x ‘Powis Castle’
Wormwood Stachys byzantina ‘Helene von Stein’
Lamb’s Ear

Tips For Silver Mound Care

Fine, delicate foliage and an attractive, mounding habit are just a couple of reasons gardeners like growing the silver mound plant (Artemisia schmidtiana ‘Silver Mound’). As you learn about growing and caring for silver mound plant, you will likely find other reasons to grow a few more in the garden.

Uses for Silver Mound Artemisia

This attractive plant is useful as a spreading border for the flower bed, when used as edging in the perennial garden and growing along paths and walkways. The delicate foliage retains its shape and color during the hottest months of summer.

Of the Asteraceae family, the silver mound Artemisia is the only member with a prostrate, spreading habit. Unlike others of the species, the silver mound plant is not invasive.

Often called silver mound wormwood, this cultivar is a relatively small

plant. Scattered among tall, flowering summer blooms, the silver mound plant serves as a long lasting ground cover, shading out growing weeds and further reducing silver mound care.

Information on Caring for Silver Mound

The silver mound plant performs best when located in a full to partial sun location in average soil. Planting this specimen in less than fertile soil decreases some aspects of silver mound care.

Soils that are too rich or too poor create the condition of splitting, dying out or separating in the middle of the mound. This is best corrected by division of the plant. Regular division of the silver mound Artemisia is a part of caring for silver mound, but is required less often if planted in the proper soil.

The silver mound Artemisia is a small, resilient plant, resistant to deer, rabbits and many pests, making it an excellent addition for outlying rock gardens or beds near wooded or natural areas.

Silver mound Artemisia care, other than division every two to three years, consists of infrequent watering during periods of no rain and a mid-summer trim, usually around the time the insignificant flowers appear in late June. Trimming keeps the plant tidy and helps it maintain its mounding shape and avoid splitting.

Plant the silver mound Artemisia in your garden or flower bed for attractive, silver foliage and low maintenance. Drought and pest resistant, you may discover it is a desirable addition to your garden.

How to Care for a Silver Mound Plant

The silver mound plant (Artemisia schmidtiana) is also called wormwood or mugwort. It is a low-growing perennial, hardy in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 7, with silvery gray foliage. Growing 1 foot high and just as wide, this airy plant is perfect for rock gardens or in front of taller plants. It prefers well-drained soil and is drought tolerant.

Choose a site with full sun and well-drained soil. Plant container-grown plants in either the spring or fall.

Dig a hole to accommodate the plant. If planting more than one, they should be spaced at least 1 foot apart. Place the plant in the hole and fill with soil and water.

Clip off excess branches or runners to retain its mound-like shape. In areas with high humidity, silver mounds may look unruly and flop over.

Cut the plant back with scissors or snips, leaving only a few inches of the plant visible in late fall or early spring. It will grow back into a nicely rounded shape.

Check to be sure the soil is especially well drained during the winter. Soggy soil could kill the plant.

Artemisia schmidtiana ‘Nana’ (Dwarf Schmidt wormwood)

Botanical name

Artemisia schmidtiana ‘Nana’

Other names

Dwarf Schmidt wormwood, Schmidt wormwood ‘Nana’, Artemisia schmidtiana ‘Silver Mound’


Artemisia Artemisia

Variety or Cultivar

Native to

Garden origin


Semi evergreen


The foliage has aromatic leaves


Compact, Cushion or Mound Forming


RHS AGM (Award of Garden Merit)

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Yellow in Summer

Silvery-grey in All seasons

How to care

Watch out for


Generally pest-free.

Specific diseases

Powdery mildew

General care


Cut back in autumn except in cold areas – do not cut until spring. Pinch out the shoot tips of young plants to encourage bushy growth. Discard old plants that cease to make new growth as they do not renovate well.

Propagation methods

Division, Seed, Semi-hardwood cuttings, Softwood cuttings

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Where to grow

Artemisia schmidtiana ‘Nana’ (Dwarf Schmidt wormwood) will reach a height of 0.15m and a spread of 0.3m after 5-10 years.

Suggested uses

Cottage/Informal, Flower Arranging, Beds and borders, Low Maintenance, Foliage only


Plant in well-drained soil in full sun.

Soil type

Chalky, Clay, Loamy, Sandy (will tolerate most soil types)

Soil drainage

Moist but well-drained, Well-drained

Soil pH

Acid, Alkaline, Neutral


Full Sun


South, East, West


Exposed, Sheltered

UK hardiness Note: We are working to update our ratings. Thanks for your patience.

Hardy (H4)

USDA zones

Zone 9, Zone 8, Zone 7, Zone 6, Zone 5, Zone 4, Zone 3

Defra’s Risk register #1

Plant name

Artemisia schmidtiana ‘Nana’ (Dwarf Schmidt wormwood)

Common pest name

Scientific pest name

Phytophthora tentaculata Kröber & Marwitz – All Hosts



Current status in UK


Likelihood to spread to UK (1 is very low – 5 is very high)

Impact (1 is very low – 5 is very high)

General biosecurity comments

Polyphagous pathogen present in parts of Europe and beyond.

Defra’s Risk register #2

Artemisia schmidtiana ‘Nana’ (Dwarf Schmidt wormwood)

Corn borer; Corn moth; European corn borer; European maize borer; European stalk borer; Maize pyralid

Ostrinia nubilalis


Present (Limited)

Likelihood to spread in UK (1 is very low – 5 is very high)

Polyphagous boring pest present in the UK since the 1930’s. A maize-affecting race was detected for the first time in 2010. Industry may wish to monitor for its presence and mitigate against impacts.

About this section

Our plants are under greater threat than ever before. There is increasing movement of plants and other material traded from an increasing variety of sources. This increases the chances of exotic pests arriving with imported goods and travellers, as well as by natural means. Shoot is working with Defra to help members to do their part in preventing the introduction and spread of invasive risks.

Traveling or importing plants? Please read “Don’t risk it” advice here

Suspected outbreak?

Date updated: 7th March 2019 For more information visit:

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Saturday – October 03, 2015

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Herbs/Forbs
Title: How to Deal with Leggy Artemisia ‘Silver Mound’
Answered by: Anne Van Nest


I have two Artemisia (I think ‘Silver Mound’) in full sun in West Austin. They have been happily growing there for the past 10 or so years. Both were hard-hit by last winter’s cold weather and did not recover well this summer. I did give them a hard prune in early spring (which I have done probably bi-annually to these plants) and neither grew vigorously this spring and summer. Both are leggy, and neither leafed out at the base and interior of the plant. The weather this year was weird – a particularly cold winter with the first hard freeze in October and an unusually wet spring followed by a very dry summer. Is there anything I can do to re-invigorate these plants? Do Artemisia have a lifespan, or will they grow forever?


Artemisia, like many other perennials do have a general lifespan and will become less vigorous as each year passes. You will also notice that the plant will get woodier as it ages. It is important to divide many perennials every 3-4 years so they keep producing vigorous new shoots. With Artemisia, take a sharp spade and slice through the clump removing the older center portions. Keep the younger, more vigorous parts of the plant from the outer perimeter of the clump.

Julie Ryan in her book “Perennial Gardens for Texas” says that ‘Silver Mound’ (a cultivar of non-native A. schmidtiana) is very fine-leaved and creates soft mounds of misty, cloud-like foliage. It is not usually invasive. Seldom over a foot in height, it makes an excellent border or rock garden plant. The middle of the clump tends to die out, but well-drained soil, allowing ample room for each plant, and trimming plants back before they bloom help prevent this.
Artemisia are not set back by the heat of late summer except in high humidity: the combination makes them prone to rot. She also writes that it likes well-drained soil and does better in poor, sandy soils than rich ones.

So, for next year, prune them somewhat hard again in the early spring and perhaps divide them and replant the more vigorous sections at that time too.

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Artemisia is the genus name for a group of 200 to 400 different species. It is composed of hardy herbaceous plants and shrubs.

The Genus Artemisia

Some artemisia are considered a deadly poison, while tarragon, is used as a culinary herb. Except for tarragon, they should not be grown near food plants because of their toxicity, although some of them are used medicinally. Other general characteristics of the genus include:

  • All artemisia species are bitter and have strong essential oils in them.
  • Artemisia grows in the temperate areas of both hemispheres, usually in hot, semiarid areas.
  • Most have hairy leaves and beautiful silvery green foliage. They are generally grown for this foliage, which overpowers the small flowers.

Common names for some popular species include mugwort, wormwood, sagebrush, and tarragon.

Species to Grow



Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) is also called a number of other names, including common woodworm, felon herb, chrysanthemum weed, wild wormwood, old Uncle Henry, sailor’s tobacco, naughty man, old man or St. John’s plant (not the same as St. John’s wort). Many related plants are referred to as mugwort by people, but Artemisia vulgaris is most often meant when a plant is called mugwort.

It is hardy to USDA zones 3-9. Mugwort is native to Europe, Asia, northern Africa and Alaska, and now grows wild in North America, where it is considered an invasive weed. The plant is silver grey, is bare on the upper side of its leaves and has hairs on the lower side of its leaves, and has small yellow flowers from July to September.

Growing Mugwort

Mugwort is a herbaceous perennial with a woody root. It grows three to six feet tall. It reproduces by means of rhizomes. The seeds produced in temperate areas are rarely viable.

Mugwort is tolerant of most soils but prefers sandy, open areas and lime-rich soil. It grows well in slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soils. Mugwort prefers well drained areas and likes dry soil. It should only be watered during extreme drought. It grows best in full sun but can tolerate dappled shade.

To grow mugwort, purchase a plant or break off a piece of rhizome from an existing plant and plant it. Mugwort should be planted after all danger of frost has passed. Seeds are ready to harvest in autumn. Leaves are harvested when needed.

Uses of Mugwort

Mugwort is supposedly so named because it was used to flavor mugs of beer brewed by individuals for their own use. It went out of favor for this purpose when hops came into favor. It can cause dermatitis on contact to some individuals, should never be taken in quantities of greater than one ounce at a time or many days in a row, and should be avoided by pregnant women, who it may cause to miscarry. According to WebMD, it can be quite dangerous to use.

Flowers or seed heads may be steeped into a tea. Leaves are used in small quantities as a digestive aid, especially in fatty foods. The Japanese use the young shoots as a potherb. Mugwort is often grown in gardens as an herbal insect repellent. Mugwort is also used in homeopathic medicine to treat epilepsy.

‘Powis Castle’ Artemisia

‘Powis Castle’

‘Powis Castle’ artemisia is an evergreen perennial. It can also be classified as a shrub or sub-shrub. ‘Powis Castle’ is believed to be a cross between Artemisia arborescens and Artemisia absinthium. This plant is a beautiful silver grey plant that grows up to three feet tall and three to six feet in diameter. The leaves are like filigreed silver lacework. ‘Powis Castle’ rarely flowers, but occasionally produces six-inch panicles of silver, yellow-tinged flower heads.

Growing ‘Powis Castle’ Artemisia

‘Powis Castle’ grows in zones 6 to 8. It does not take heat in the summer well or cold in the winter well. It is propagated by cutting shoots in the summer and rooting them. Any seeds it produces will not produce a plant like its parent. ‘Powis Castle’ grows in full sun and prefers neutral to mildly alkaline, well-drained soil. It is drought tolerant but will rot in wet soil. It should be pruned in the spring when it first starts growing to keep it in a mound shape.

Uses of ‘Powis Castle’ Artemisia

‘Powis Castle’ is used as an edging, in xeriscape gardens, cottage garden, rock garden, and in herb gardens. It is toxic and should not be consumed. ‘Powis Castle’ is planted for its dramatic foliage, not its flowers.

‘Silver Mound’ Artemisia

‘Silver Mound’

‘Silver Mound’ (Artemisia schmidtiana) is prized for its silver foliage and attractive mounding growth. It is a perennial with a low, spreading habit. It is more heat tolerant than most artemisia plants and is not invasive. It lives in zones 4-8. ‘Silver Mound’ grows ten to twelve inches tall and rarely flowers. It is deer resistant and rabbit resistant. ‘Silver Mound’ is attractive to bees, butterflies, and birds.

Growing ‘Silver Mound’ Artemisia

‘Silver Mound’ grows in full sun. It likes dry soil and should be watered rarely after it is established. It is generally purchased as a plant, rather than propagated. However, it can be propagated by cutting shoots in summer and rooting them. ‘Silver Mound’ likes average soil. Very fertile soil makes it grow too fast, requiring division every year. Normally, it should be divided every two to three years.

After planting ‘Silver Mound’, it rarely requires much in the way of maintenance. Trimming it in the spring will keep it in a nice mound shape. Do not trim old wood, trim back to a new bud. The trimmings can be rooted to start new plants. The plant can be sheared during the summer to create fresh foliage if needed.

Use of ‘Silver Mound’ Artemisia

‘Silver Mound’ is used as edging or an accent piece because of its spectacular foliage. It is perfect for a border or a meandering path. Because it is drought tolerant, it does well in a rock garden or other xeriscape.

Sweet Wormwood

Sweet wormwood

Sweet wormwood (Artemisia annua) is also known as sweet annie, sweet sagewort, annual mugwort or annual wormwood. It is an annual herbaceous plant that has been used medicinally for centuries. It is from Asia but is widely naturalized around the world. Sweet wormwood grows to be nine feet tall and three feet wide and grows rapidly.

Growing Sweet Wormwood

Sweet wormwood is cultivated from seeds. These are sown after all danger of frost has occurred. The seeds are tiny and should be sown three feet apart in rows separated by three feet. Sweet wormwood can also be propagated by cuttings from another plant. This is done with spring shoots and is very labor intensive. Most people buy a sweet wormwood plant from the nursery. It needs direct sun and average soil. It does need well drained soil as it will not tolerate wet feet. It is drought tolerant.

Use of Sweet Wormwood

Sweet wormwood contains a compound named artemisinin, which is the leading treatment for malaria in the world. Sweet wormwood is rarely grown for anything but access to this compound. The leaves are harvested, and a solvent is used to leach the compound from the leaves.



Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) is a culinary herb that is native to a wide area of the Northern Hemisphere. The best culinary herb is called French tarragon, to distinguish it from Russian tarragon, another cultivar, or wild tarragon, which isn’t as flavorful as French tarragon. Tarragon grows in zones 5 to 8. It grows up to three feet tall and spreads up to two feet. French tarragon rarely flowers and its seeds are generally sterile.

Growing Tarragon

Tarragon is usually purchased at the nursery. The seeds of the best tasting tarragon are usually sterile so it is propagated by root division. Tarragon should be planted after all danger of frost has passed. Tarragon likes moderate sun with a little shade in the afternoon. It prefers rich, loamy soil with good drainage. Adding compost to your soil is a good way to prepare it for tarragon. It is divided in the fall and replanted about 18 inches apart. It has a shallow root system and care must be taken during weeding not to damage the roots.

Use of Tarragon

Tarragon is used as a culinary herb to flavor soups and other dishes. It is harvested in summer and the leaves are dried for use later. The young shoots can be cooked as a potherb. Tarragon is thought to aid digestion and is often used to flavor oily foods.



Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) is a woody perennial that has beautiful silvery gray foliage. That is the primary reason it is planted. All parts of the plant should be considered poisonous. Wormwood is from the temperate regions of Europe and Asia and has naturalized in parts of the United States. It is considered invasive in some areas.

Growing Wormwood

Wormwood grows to three feet high by three feet wide. Wormwood is purchased from a nursery and is best grown in poor to moderate soils that are dry to moderately moist. It suffers from root rot in wet soils. It is drought resistant and rarely needs watering once established. It needs full sun to do best.

Wormwood is propagated by dividing the root ball and planting the new divisions 18 inches apart. It can also be propagated from stem cuttings. Cut it down to its base in the winter.

Use of Wormwood

Wormwood is grown for its dramatic silver grey foliage. It makes a good border or accent piece. It is also grown to obtain plants to produce absinthe, a spirit that for many years was outlawed in the United States. It is again legal and is distilled from the whole plant. It was outlawed because it was thought to be addictive and psychedelic, but that has not proven to be the case upon further study, or at least no more than any other alcohol.

Lovely in the Landscape

Artemisia is characterized for its beautiful silver grey foliage and is generally grown for that reason. In general, it makes a nice border or accent piece, is drought resistant, and is deer and rabbit resistant.


  • Attributes: Genus: Artemisia Family: Asteraceae Uses (Ethnobotany): Uses include wreaths and other crafts; aromatic foliage Life Cycle: Perennial Recommended Propagation Strategy: Division Country Or Region Of Origin: Europe, Subtropical Northern Hemisphere & S. America Distribution: Coastal Plain Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems): deer damage
  • Whole Plant Traits: Plant Type: Edible Herb Herbaceous Perennial Native Plant Perennial Poisonous
  • 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) Available Space To Plant: 12 inches-3 feet
  • Flowers: Flower Color: Gold/Yellow Green Flower Description: Flowers are small, drooping, and greenish-yellow.
  • Leaves: Leaf Color: Gray/Silver Green Leaf Value To Gardener: Fragrant Leaf Arrangement: Alternate Hairs Present: Yes Leaf Description: Leaves are silvery-green, alternate, and finely divided into blunt, narrow segments with silvery hairs on both sides.
  • Stem: Stem Is Aromatic: No
  • Landscape: Landscape Location: Naturalized Area Resistance To Challenges: Deer Problems: Poisonous to Humans Problem for Children Weedy
  • Poisonous to Humans: Poison Severity: High Poison Symptoms: TOXIC ONLY IF LARGE QUANTITIES EATEN. (Poisonous through ingestion. Poisonous parts: all parts). Symptoms: In the form of absinthe, an outlawed beverage, it can cause forgetfulness, delirium, convulsions, and brain damage. Poison Toxic Principle: A monoterpene thujone Causes Contact Dermatitis: No Poison Part: Bark Flowers Fruits Leaves Roots Seeds Stems

Caring For An Artemisia

Artemisia is a genus that has hundreds of species of hardy shrubs and herbs valued for their oils. Common names for some species are wormwood, mugwort, sagebrush, and tarragon. Because some of the species are named sage, some people confuse this genus with Salvia sages. Artemisias belong to the daisy family Asteraceae, and they grow in temperate climates, preferring dry or semi-dry habitats. Many leaves of Artemisias are used for medicinal or flavoring purposes, and most have a bitter taste.

The artemisia has a history rich in myth and culture. Rumors say it was named after a female botanist, Artemisia, who was married to the Greek King Mausolous (she was also his sister). The Wicca belief system believes wormwood and mugwort give psychic powers, and so they plant them in “moon gardens” since the moon goddess Artemis is said to be the source of these powers.

Purposes of Artemisia:

  • Because of its bitter aroma, many species, such as wormwood, can be planted as a border around gardens to ward off animals. The Silver Mound variety is the most toxic, and so makes a great border plant.
  • Absinth Wormwood can be used to repel fleas and moths, make beer and wine or the famous hallucinatory Absinthe that has been banned in many countries. Vermouth, German for wormwood, was once flavored with wormwood. Absinth Wormwood has also been used medicinally as a tonic in the past.
  • Tarragon is a popular herb, widely used in French cuisine.
  • Artemisa annua has been used to make artemisin and cotexin, used in Africa to fight malaria.
  • Many insect sprays are made from wormwood. You can make your own by making a tea from the wormwood leaves.

Plant Info and Planting Tips:

  • The leaves are green or grey-ish silver, fern-like, often feathery and covered in little white hairs.
  • The average height is between 30 cm to 2 meters.
  • Plant in well-drained sandy soil.
  • Annuals should be sown in spring.
  • Perennials should be sown in autumn. If outside, sow under a sheet of glass, facing north. Remove glass after germination.
  • Purchase tarragon as a seedling and plant after the last frost 30 cm apart for the smaller sizes and 60 cm apart for the larger varieties. Best in soil with ph level of 5.5-7.
  • Silver Mound, one of the most popular perennials, can grow in zones 1-9, best in full sun or partial shade, and has silver leaves and flowers. Grow in a moonlight garden and enjoy the silvery shimmering beauty.

General Care:

Artemisias are considered very hardy and easy to care for. Fertilizer should be applied in spring and mulch in the autumn. They are not susceptible to many pests because of their strong odor.

Dangers: Susceptible to root rot if grown in soil that doesn’t drain.

Growing Zones: In general, good in USDA zones 3-10, but check your specific variety.

Pruning: Prune lightly for shape, but don’t prune heavily, especially in the fall.

Dividing: Every couple of years, divide clumps.

Harvesting: Leaves can be harvested anytime for culinary or medicinal purposes. Dry tarragon and store in a dark, dry place.

Watering: Artemisia does well in dry areas, but light to moderate watering is beneficial.

The hardy Artemisia can benefit your garden greatly without requiring much care.

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