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Artemisia– Mugwort – Sagebrush – Wormwood

There are about 300 species of evergreen, or deciduous shrubs, and perennials, herbs and annuals, in this genus.  They’re found in semi arid fields, prairies and scrub in the Northern Hemisphere with a few from South Africa and Western South America.  Their grown for their alternate, variable shaped often pinnatisect, aromatic, palest gray to silver, coated with whitish hairs leaves that repel insects.  It produces cylindrical white or yellowish flower heads up to 3/8” wide, occasional solitary but more commonly in terminal panicles or racemes that are of little interest.

Grow these quite frost hardy plants in well-drained fertile soil in full sun although they can withstand hot dry areas and considerable drought.  Cut down to base in autumn, cut shrubby species back hard in spring to maintain a compact habit and stimulate new growth. Divide in spring or in autumn.

Prone to White rust, downy mildew, powdery mildew, rust and variety of other fungal leaf and stem diseases are common.

Artemisia abrotanum – Lad’s Love – Old Man – Southernwood – This erect deciduous to semi-evergreen frost hardy shrub grows 3-5’ feet tall and in breadth.  It produces highly aromatic erect brittle pinnatisect to 3 pinnatisect gray-green leaves to 2” long with thread-like lobes with gray hairs on the undersides.  In late summer it bears small yellowish gray flowers in dense panicles to 4-12” long.  Due to its brittle leaves take care in positioning.

Zones 4-9


Artemisia absinthium – Abinth – Wormwood – Common Wormwood – This clump forming woody based subshrub from Europe and temperate Asia grows 3’ feet tall and 2’ feet wide. This species spreads by rhizomes.  It produces 2 or 3 pinnatisect, aromatic, silky-hairy, dull gray leaves, 2 ½-4” long with oblong lobes.  In late summer it bears inconspicuous loose panicles 2-5” long of grayish yellow flower heads.  Trim after flowering to keep a neat habit.

‘Lambrook Silver’ – This species grows 30” tall and bears deeply divided silver foliage in a tidy habit.

Zones 4-9


Artemisia alba ‘Canescens’ – Artemisia canescens – Artemisia splendens – Artemisia vulgaris ‘Canescens’ – This semi-evergreen clump forming perennial grows to 18” tall and 12” wide.  It produces pinnatisect to 3 pinnatisect silver leaves up to ½” long with slender curling lobes.  In late summer inconspicuous brownish yellow flower heads are borne in panicles 2-8” long.

Zones 4-8


Artemisia annua – Sweet Annie – Sweet Wormwood – This upright hairless annual grow to 6’ feet tall and spreads to 30” wide.  It produces pinnatisect to 3 pinnatisect sweetly aromatic bright green leaves up to 2 ½” long with linear-lance shaped smooth edged or toothed lobes.  From summer to autumn it bears loose panicles to 18” long of yellow flower heads are borne.  May become weedy.


Artemisia arborescens – Shrub wormwood – This frost tender upright or spreading evergreen shrub from the Mediterranean grows into a rounded shrub to 3-4’ feet tall and spreads to 5’ feet wide.  It produces pinnatisect or 2 pinnatisect aromatic fern like silvery white leaves to 4” long with linear lobes.  In summer and autumn it bears flower heads in one-sided panicles to 12” long.

‘Faith Raven’ – is much hardier cultivars                                                                                                                                          Zones 7-11


Artemisia californica – California Sagebrush – This Californian species is found in poor and sandy soils and grows to about 5’ feet tall.  It produces fine gray thread like leaves that give a soft silky appearance.  It’s pleasantly aromatic.

Zones 4-11


Artemisia caucasica – Artemisia lanata – Artemisia pedemontana – This semi deciduous or evergreen perennial from Southern European mountains from Spain to the Ukraine and the Caucasus grows less then 12” tall.  It produces grayish leaves divided into very narrow lobes.  In summer it bears short spikes of dull yellow flower heads.

Zones 5-9


Artemisia dracunculus – Tarragon – This clump forming sub shrubby perennial from Central and Eastern Europe, and Southern Russia grows to 3-4’ feet tall and 12” wide.  It bears aromatic lance shaped light to mid green leaves to 4” long.  In late summer insignificant nodding yellowish white flower heads are borne in loose panicles 2-14” long.  Leaves are used for seasoning- delicate, peppery aniseed flavor.  Divide in early spring.

Zones 3-9


Artemisia frigida – Fern-leafed Wormwood – Fringed Sagebrush – This mat forming perennial from Southeastern Russia grows to 12” tall.  It produces silvery green, fine, long, fern-like, leaves.  In late summer it bears nodding yellow flowers are borne.

Zones 3-9


Artemisia lactiflora – White Mugwort – This clump forming herbaceous perennial from Western China grows to 5’ feet tall and spreads to 18-24” wide.  It produces jaggedly cut pinnatisect, dark green leaves 8-10” long with broadly lance shaped lobes.  From late summer to mid autumn it bears many spreading panicles to 24” long of long lasting milky white flower heads.  It may need staking and great for dried floral arrangements.

‘Guizhou’ – Artemisia kitadakensis ‘Guizhou’ – Has stems and new leaves flushed with purple and bears widely branched white flower heads.

Zones 5-8


Artemisia ludoviciana – Artemisia palmeri – Artemisia purshiana – Western Mugwort – White Sage – This very frost hardy, rhizomatous, clump forming perennial found from Western North America to Mexico grows 4’ feet tall and spreads 2’ feet or more wide.  It produces coarsely toothed, lance shaped, densely downy, silvery white leaves 4-5” long, which become greener with age.  From mid summer to autumn it bears densely white woolly panicles to 8” long of brownish yellow bell shaped flower heads.  Often becomes invasive.

var. albula – This Californian species has smaller white leaves.

‘Silver King’ – Is a compact species with lance shaped white woolly leaves to ¾” long that turn red in autumn

‘Silver Queen’ – This species grows to 30” tall produces slightly larger leaves and flowers less freely

‘Valerie Finnis’ – This species grows to 24” tall and bears silvery gray leaves with jagged cut edges.

Zones 4-9


Artemisia pontica – Roman Wormwood – This vigorous rhizomatous evergreen perennial from Central and Eastern Europe grows to 30” tall and can spread indefinitely.  It produces aromatic pinnatifid or 2 pinnatifid feathery, woolly silver green leaves to 1 ½” long with narrow lobes.  In early summer it bears creamy yellow flower heads are held on panicles 2-8” long.  A great plant for a groundcover in poor soils, in full sun.

Zones 4-9


Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ – Artemisia arborescens ‘Brass Band’ – This woody based mounding perennial is a cross between Artemisia absinthium and Artemisia arborescens and grows 2’ feet tall and spreads to 3’ feet or more wide.   It produces pinnatisect or 2 pinnatisect, feathery silver-gray leaves, 2 ½” long with linear lobes.  In late summer it bears panicles to 6” long of silver, yellow-tinged flower heads are seldom produced.

Zones 7-10


Artemisia schmidtiana – Silvermound – Satiny Wormwood – This low rhizomatous evergreen, tufted perennial from Japan grows to 12” tall and spreads to 18” wide.  It produces 2 pinnatisect silky hairy leaves up to 1 ¾” long with very fine linear lobes.  In summer panicles to 4” long of small creamy white flower heads are borne.

Artemsia S Silvermound Artemsia S Silvermound

‘Nana’ – Is very similar but more compact only growing 3” tall and spreads to 12” wide.

Artemisia Schmidtiara Nana Artemisia Schmidtiara Nana

Zones 4-9


Artemisia stelleriana – Beach Wormwood – Dusty Miller –This frost hardy evergreen perennial from sea coast of Northeastern Asia grows to 12-24” tall and spreads up to 3’ feet wide.  It produces serrated, white haired, silver leaves.  In summer it bears slender sprays of small yellow flowers.

Zones 4-9


Artemisia stelleriana ‘Boughton Silver’ – Artemisia stelleriana ‘Mori’ – Artemisia ‘Silver Brocade’ – This compact almost prostrate rhizomatous evergreen perennial grows to 6” tall and spreads up to 12-18” wide.   It produces stalk less, deeply toothed or pinnatifid white hairy, silver gray leaves, 2-4” long.  In late summer and early autumn it bears panicles 1 ¼-3” long of inconspicuous yellow flower heads are held on erect white stems.


Zones 3-7


Artemisia vulgaris – Mugwort – Produces green leaves with a slight hint of silver gray and are less divided than those of other species.  Mugwort was used to flavor beer before hops were used and in ancient times was believed to have magical properties.

‘Variegata’ – Produces foliage marked with white specks

Zones 4-10

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