Artemisia is the name of a wide variety of plants which are part of the daisy family. Around 400 kinds of shrubs and bushes are classified as artemesia. Its other common names are wormwood, mugwort or sagebrush. Although its flowers are usually yellow and small, artemesia's foliage is a lovely silver-gray or gray-green, lacy and distinctive, which makes it a wonderful background or accent plant in your garden. Most artemesia is fragrant. A common type of artemesia is dusty miller, which has silver-gray foliage and small yellow flowers. Artemesia has been used for medicinal purposes, for flavoring and to repel fleas and moths. The herb, tarragon, is from the artemisia family. Vermouth was originally flavored with wormwood, a type of artemesia.
Artemisia in the Garden
Artemesia is a great plant for your garden. It is a perennial, mixes well with other plants, is drought tolerant and is easy to grow. It grows mostly in sunny, dry or semi-dry climates. Artemesia likes good draining sandy soil and full sun. You don't need to fertilize it. Artemesia doesn't seem to be bothered by pests and deer and rabbits tend to leave it alone.
Find a big enough space and let it go because its varieties can grow anywhere from 1 to 3 feet high by 2 to 4 feet wide within a season. Artemesia is usually grown from nursery stock; buy artemesia or dusty miller in 4 inch pots, 6 packs or gallon containers. Plant it in the winter or spring after the last frost, give it enough water to establish it and then continue to water it the same as other xeriscape or drought tolerant plants in your landscape. Artemesia can also be grown from cuttings from your own or neighbor's plants.
Place artemesia in your garden where the beautiful, lacy, fern-like foliage will be showcased, or add a highlight to a planted area. It usually grows in an attractive or distinctive shape, but it can be pruned to further shape it to your liking. Deadhead artemesia after it flowers in the summer and prune off any dead stems or branches. In late fall or winter you can cut your artemesia way back to 8 to 14 inches tall and it will fill back out during its growth period in the spring.
Maintenance and Care
Divide artemesia every two to three years to promote good, healthy growth. To do this, dig your plant up, divide the root ball and replant the plants 3 to 4 feet apart. You can do this in the spring before its growth spurt, or in the fall after cutting it back.
Small artemesia shrubs make excellent border plants. Artemesia can be used with a diverse grouping of plants to bring out their various colors and textures and add some of its own. It can be planted in an outdoor planting bed to accent other plants with different color foliage. Or it can be used as a background plant to showcase brightly colored flowering perennials or ornamental grasses. Plant artemesia in a rock garden or in a tub or container with other perennials. Artemesia is a hardy perennial and, with proper care, will reward you year after year with its distinctive, good-looking foliage.