Silver Mound Artemisia: How to Grow This Low Perennial Ground Cover

The Ultimate "Mounding" Plant

Silver Mound artemisia (image) is a ground cover. True to its name, it has silvery leaves.
David Beaulieu

Taxonomy and Botany for Silver Mound Artemisia

Silver Mound artemisia is called Artemisia schmidtiana 'Silver Mound' in plant taxonomy. As is standard in botanical language, the words in the single quotes are the cultivar name. An alternate cultivar name is 'Nana.' Whenever you see the latter, you know that the plant in question is a dwarf. A common name loosely used to refer to plants in this genus is "wormwood."

While serving generally as a ground cover in terms of how it is used in landscaping, in terms of botany this is a low-growing perennial that behaves as an herbaceous plant.


The cultivar names of this plant speak volumes about how it looks. It is a plant with silvery leaves and a mounded form. As a dwarf, it stays one foot tall or shorter in many cases, with a width of about 1 1/2 feet.

This is a foliage plant. Even though it does bloom, you can ignore the flowers: They don't amount to much. But the leaves are special. Silver Mound artemisia not only bears pretty foliage but is also an example of a plant with aromatic foliage.

Growing Conditions, USDA Zones 

This silvery, low-growing perennial is native to Japan. Plant it in growing zones 3-7.

It is one plant that actually craves what many other plants dislike: Ground that is fairly low in fertility. A little nutrition will not hurt it, but what most definitely will harm it is soil that is not well-drained.

This is a ground cover that prefers full sun. Water moderately to establish young plants. But once these perennials are established, they should need less water than the average garden plant.

Care for Silver Mound Artemisia

A common problem for mature plants as spring ends and you move deeper into the summer season is that the branches will fall away from the center, leaving a hole in the middle of the clump.

Two ways to address this problem are to:

  1. Give it a modest haircut as summer begins.
  2. Divide (in spring or fall) mature plants that threaten to become unruly.

Uses in Landscaping and in Medicine

Because they are low-growing perennials that can spread over time, their natural use, generally speaking, will be as ground covers. But, more specifically, they can play a number of roles, including as:

But this only begins to suggest their possible uses in the landscape. You are limited only by your imagination. The silver color of the leaves will surely suggest some interesting color combinations to the creative gardener. Many people love a silver-and-red combo (for example, red salvia would work here as a partner). But do not focus too narrowly on color: Those who enjoy working with plant form and plant texture will find fertile ground on both counts with Silver Mound artemisia plants. Contrast its fine texture with coarser plants such as Ageratum, or its mounding form with spiky plants such as torch lily (Kniphofia uvaria).

In terms of its use in medicine, some types of artemisia have been used in matters pertaining to women's health.

Outstanding Features

Besides the above points, any listing of the strengths of Silver Mound artemisia must include mention of the various things to which it is resistant. For example, the plants are:

It is important that a plant be pretty, but long-time gardeners know that this often is not enough. No matter how pretty a plant is, if a pest comes along and eats it, or a heat wave comes along and cooks it, you will no longer be able to admire its beauty. So never underestimate the importance of a plant's ability to hold its own in the face of the challenges that nature throws its way (dry conditions, pests, diseases, etc.).

Origin of the Name

At first glance, it might seem that "artemisia" is obviously named after Artemis, the Greek goddess.

For one thing, there is the similarity between the two words. But besides that, women's health was associated with Artemis, and, as mentioned above, the plant was long used to treat women's health problems.

But the origin of the name might not be quite that simple. According to Michael L. Charters, it is also possible that the name comes more directly from Queen Artemisia of Halicarnassus (died 350 B.C.), perhaps due to her botanical pursuits, as others suggest. But since the queen's name comes from the name of the goddess, ultimately, it's safe to trace the plant's name back to the goddess (even if only indirectly).

Other Types of Artemisia

There are many kinds of artemisias. A weed commonly found along roadsides is A. vulgaris, known as "mugwort." Sagebrush (A. tridentata) is another weedy artemisia. And perhaps you have heard of the alcoholic drink named "absinthe." Absinthe is made with A. absinthium.

In terms of types planted in yards, Silver King artemisia (A. ludoviciana 'Silver King') is taller than Silver Mound; it is often dried and used to make wreaths. 'Powis Castle' is another taller cultivar used in landscaping.