08 July 2018

Artemisia is Dusty Miller and Tarragon and More

Artemisia vulgaris
Some gardeners call Artemisia a weed but this European native has made itself at home in America, Artemisia, also called wormwood, Sweet Annie or Mugwort, has scented leaves so it is rabbit and deer resistant. 

In ancient times Mugwort was an herb of protection to ward off evil spirits. Its Latin name, Artemisia, comes from it being dedicated to Artemis and Diana. 

Roman soldiers put Mugwort leaves in their sandals to help them walk longer and faster. Medicinally it has been used for pain, a stimulant, a sedative, an ingredient in beverages (Absinthe) and smoked as Sailor’s Tobacco.

Some of the varieties available as plants and seeds include -

Artemisia stelleriana, Dusty Miller, the familiar silver, plant that gardeners tuck into flower beds. There are several hybrids available that mature at  between 4 and 12 inches tall, with 1-inch wide, soft leaves and yellow flowers. Very adaptable.

Artemisia frigida, or Fringed Sage, grows well in xeriscape settings such as rock gardens and un-attended beds. In part-shade it can become floppy as it grows taller through the summer but it can be pruned back to make the stems more sturdy.

Artemisia lactiflora Guizhou
 Artemisia lactiflora Guizhou, or White Mugwort, is a sun loving variety with dark green leaves, black-green stems and large plumes of creamy white flowers. At four to five feet tall it can be used as a seasonal screen. 

Artemisia ludoviciana Silver King, or White Sage,  is used by landscapers to naturalize large areas with poor soil. Its silver foliage grows to 2 or 3 feet tall. Also called Silver Wormwood and White Sagebrush.

Artemisia spreads by rhizomes and will take over if it is grown in rich soil. Avoid over watering.


One variety that does not spread by rhizomes. Artemisia dranunculus var sativa is the culinary herb French Tarragon or Russian Tarragon that is widely used in sauces and meat recipes. The seeds are sold under the name Mexican Mint Marigold. Plant them in the spring.

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