Growing Wormwood or Silvermound Artemisia

The Ultimate Mounding Plant

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

Silvermound artemisia is scientifically called Artemisia schmidtiana in plant taxonomy. Silvermound is the cultivar name. An alternate cultivar name is "nana." Whenever you see the latter, you know that the plant in question is a dwarf. Another common name used to refer to plants in this genus is "wormwood."

This plant generally serves as ground cover in landscaping. It is considered a low-growing perennial that behaves as an herb plant.

Features

Its cultivar name describes how it looks. It is a plant with silvery leaves and a mounded form. As a dwarf, it stands one foot tall or shorter and grows to a width of about 1 1/2 feet.

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

Growing Conditions

This silvery, low-growing perennial is native to Japan. It can survive in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 3 through 7, which covers almost all of the U.S. with the exception of Hawaii.

This plant actually craves what many other plants dislike: non-fertile ground. A little nutrition will not hurt it, but what most definitely will harm it is soil that is not well-drained. This ground cover plant 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 Silvermound 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. There are two ways to address this problem. You can give this plant a modest trim as summer begins. And, you can divide (in spring or fall) mature plants that threaten to become unruly.

Uses in Landscaping

Because they are low-growing perennials that can spread over time, their primary use, generally speaking, will be as ground cover. But, you can use them in different ways for landscaping.

  • This plant functions well in a rock garden
  • It can work well in Mediterranean gardens as a companion for lavender and other herbs
  • Use as an edging plant, which you plant to provide a well-defined border along various features in your landscape

These are just a few of the possible uses in the landscape. The sky is the limit with artemisia and landscape options. The silver color of the leaves provides some interesting color combinations for a 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 great options with this plant. You can provide contrast with its fine texture by pairing with coarser plants such as ageratum or highlight its mounding form with spiky plants such as torch lily (Kniphofia uvaria).

Outstanding Features

Silvermound artemisia is also special for its natural resistance to certain external and environmental variables. It is deer-resistant and rabbit-resistant.

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. Also, it is considered a drought-resistant ground cover. Never underestimate the importance of a plant's ability to hold its own in the face of the challenges that nature throws its way.

Origin of the Name

At first glance, it might seem that artemisia is named after Artemis, the Greek goddess. Women's health was associated with Artemis in ancient Greece, and it is believed that varieties from the plant family were used to treat women's health problems.

But the origin of the name might not be a direct correlation. It is possible that the name comes more directly from Queen Artemisia of Halicarnassus who died in 350 B.C. She had a reputation for botanical pursuits. But since the queen's name comes from the name of the goddess, ultimately, it is indirectly related.

Other Types of Artemisia

There are many kinds of artemisia. A weed commonly found along roadsides is A. vulgaris, known as mugwort and used for medicinal purposes. Sagebrush (A. tridentata) is another weedy artemisia. A. dracunculus is the scientific name for the common herb tarragon, popular in cooking. And, the alcoholic drink absinthe is made with A. absinthium.

In terms of types planted for foliage, Silver king artemisia (A. ludoviciana) is taller than silver mound; it is often dried and used to make wreaths. Powis Castle artemisia is another taller cultivar used in landscaping.