ARTEMISIA – wormwood

This group of perennials, herbs and small shrubs are grown primarily for their rich, silvery foliage. Leaves are finely textured, often aromatic. Some varieties are evergreen. Few varieties have attractive flowers.

Suitable site and soil. Plant in the front of borders, in an open location. Artemisias need full sun and perfect drainage. Poor, dry soils are best.

Cultivation and care. Plant out in autumn or spring. Avoid over-watering or feeding. Protect plants in winter by surrounding with sharp grit or gravel. Trim lightly in spring and cut perennials down to ground level in autumn.

Propagation. Divide and replant perennials between autumn and spring. Softwood or semi-ripe cuttings can be taken in summer from shrubby species. Take 5cm – 2in cuttings and root in a light, sandy compost.

Recommended varieties. A. absinthium ‘Lambrook Silver’ has silvery, aromatic, fern-like foliage. A abrotanum (southernwood) has a bushy habit. A. arborescens is a small shrub with silvery white foliage and bright yellow flowers in summer; ‘Powis Castle’ is compact at 90cm – 36in. A. lactiflora is a tall, green plant with decorative plumes of creamy white flowers in summer, ideal for fresh or dried flower arrangements. A. stelleriana is a tall, silver-leaved plant with yellow flowers.

Pests and diseases. Watch out for cream-coloured root aphids on the leaves and spray with insecticide. The undersides of leaves may also suffer from rust.

SCENTED LEAVES

Plant artemesia beside a path, where it can be touched and its fragrance can be appreciated. With its silvery foliage, A. absinthium ‘Lambrook Silver’ is the perfect partner to purple sage and lavender.

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