How to Plant and Grow Artemisia

Plant this perennial next to your brighter blooms as an accent plant.

Grown primarily for its silver foliage, artemisia is a wonderful accent plant in many settings. Artemisias come in numerous different foliage shapes, sizes, and heights. A few well-known artemisias are 'Silver Mound' and the herb tarragon. Use these plants to add texture and subtle color to gardens, containers, and borders. Artemesias are also extremely versatile and drought tolerant.

You may also know artemisia by one of its common names, wormwood. Many species of artemisia are prized for the various chemical compounds they produce, giving them a distinctive scent when crushed. One species, in particular, Artemisia absinthium, was once used to make the liquor absinthe but has since been removed from absinthe recipes due to potential health hazards.

It should be noted that some varieties of artemisia (such as tarragon) could be toxic to dogs, cats, and horses. Artemisia is also toxic to humans.

Artemisia Overview

Genus Name Artemisia
Common Name Artemisia
Plant Type Perennial
Light Sun
Height 1 to 3 feet
Width 1 to 10 feet
Flower Color Yellow
Foliage Color Blue/Green, Gray/Silver
Season Features Summer Bloom
Zones 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Propagation Division, Seed, Stem Cuttings
Problem Solvers Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Groundcover, Slope/Erosion Control

Where to Plant Artemisia

Artemisia plants need well-drained soils. Plant them in dry soils and keep plants restrained to prevent them from growing too quickly, flopping, and falling open. Avoid planting them in heavy soils (like moist clays) which will likely cause them to die from rot. Artemisia can also perform well in rock gardens, growing in extremely sharp drainage with extended droughts.

It's important to note that many species of artemisia spread vigorously by rhizomes or underground stems. As a result, several types are considered invasive in some regions and should be researched before being planted. For example, Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) is considered highly invasive in the Northeast region of the United States. If you have doubts about planting these, look for varieties that are slower to spread or for mounding types that don't spread at all. You can also keep them in check by planting them in containers or regularly reining them in by digging up runners.

How and When to Plant Artemisia

Nursery starts can be put in the ground in the spring as soon as the soil is soft enough to be workable. Tease out the root ball and dig a hole just big enough to accommodate it. Place the plant in the hole so that the top of the root ball is even with the ground and cover the roots with soil, gently tamping it down to provide stability before watering.

Artemisia Care Tips

Artemisia are relatively low-maintenance plants, but they can be a little picky about their placement and growing environment.


Artemisia plants love sun and dry heat, so give them as much as possible. Plants are at much higher risk for disease and flopping in part shade.

Soil and Water

For new plants, keep the soil evenly moist until the plants are well-established. Mature plants are extremely drought tolerant and will need very little supplemental water to thrive. In areas with humid summers, many artemisia varieties can be prone to foliar diseases and a decline of foliage. Keep them in well-ventilated areas and full sun to prevent this.


A hard cutback of the plants in summer can be beneficial to encourage new growth of previously suffering plants.

Potting and Repotting Artemesia

Artemisia is a great container plant and its fragrant, silver foliage will likely thrive on a sunny patio or porch. Plant your artemisia start in a medium pot with adequate draining holes and a very porous potting mix. Keep the pot inside in a place with full sun during chilly winter weather and place it outside only after the last frost has passed. To keep the plant producing healthy new shoots, divide the plant every 2 to 3 years (as it starts to outgrow its pot) instead of moving the original plant to a larger pot.

Pests and Problems

Insects tend to avoid artemisia because of its aromatic nature, so disease and pests are rare, but leaf rust, powdery mildew, and downy mildew can be an issue in humid conditions.

How to Propagate Artemesia

The best way to propagate artemisia is through division. Most artemisia plants found in nurseries are hybrids, which means they are either sterile or will only produce seeds that grow and perform differently than the parent plant.

To divide a plant, dig up the root ball (in the spring or fall) and divide it into sections using a sharp tool (like a spade or trowel). Remove any older center sections of the plant if they become woody and unproductive and keep the younger, more vibrant sections from the outer perimeter. Make sure each section has a healthy collection of roots and crown eyes and then replant the pieces with the root crown slightly higher than the ground.

Types of Artemisia

Coastal sagebrush

Canyon Gray' Coastal sagebrush
Denny Schrock

Artemisia californica 'Canyon Gray' is a fantastic groundcover. Coastal sagebrush remains under 2 feet tall and forms a 10-foot-wide mat of fine textured silver-gray foliage. Zones 9-10


Dean Schoeppner

Artemisia vulgaris has a sage-like scent with mint undertones. Its primary use is in aromatherapy. Mugwort grows 2-4 feet tall and wide. The plant flowers from mid to late summer with greenish-white blooms. Zones 5-10

'Powis Castle' artemisia

'Powis Castle' artemisia
Jerry Pavia

Artemisia 'Powis Castle' is a hybrid form that grows upright to 2-3 feet tall. Its finely divided foliage stays put, making it a welcome addition to the border and container plantings. Zones 7-9

'Silver King' artemisia

'Silver King' artemisia
Jane Booth Vollers

Artemisia ludoviciana 'Silver King' is a fast-spreading variety with bright silvery-white leaves that often turn reddish in autumn. Plant it on a slope in poor soil to prevent erosion. It grows 4 feet tall and is hardy in Zones 4-9

'Silver Brocade' artemisia

'Silver Brocade' artemisia
Mark Kane

Artemisia stelleriana 'Silver Brocade' (also called A. stelleriana 'Boughton Silver') grows only 6-8 inches tall and spreads a foot or more wide. Its lobed woolly white leaves are ideal for softening the edge of a container or retaining wall. Zones 3-7

'Seafoam' artemisia

silvermound artemisia silver-leaf plant
Peter Krumhardt

Artemisia versicolor 'Seafoam' has frothy, contorted silver foliage that works well as a groundcover around taller, drought-tolerant perennials. It grows 8 inches tall and is hardy in Zones 4-10.


French tarragon
Bob Stefko

Artemisia dracunculus, most commonly known as tarragon, is grown primarily for its use as a culinary herb and not for any ornamental qualities. Zones 5-9

'Silver Mound' artemisia

'Silver Mound' artemisia
Dean Schoeppner

Artemisia schmidtiana 'Silver Mound' forms a low mound of soft, fine-textured foliage up to 1 foot tall that does not spread. Cut it back after its spring flush of growth to prevent the plant from flopping open midsummer. Zones 5-8

Artemisia Companion Plants

Russian Sage

light purple full-sun russian sage perennial
Peter Krumhardt

With its tall wispy wands of lavender or blue flowers and silvery foliage, Russian sage is an important player in summer and fall gardens. It shows off well against most flowers and provides an elegant look to flower borders. The aromatic leaves are oblong and deeply cut along the edges. Foot-long panicles of flowers bloom for many weeks. Excellent drainage and full sun are ideal, although very light shade is tolerated. Plant close to avoid staking since the tall plants tend to flop.


Salvia farinacea

Few gardens don't have at least one salvia growing in them. Whether you have sun or shade, a dry garden or lots of rainfall, there's a salvia that you'll find indispensable. All attract hummingbirds, especially the red ones, and are great picks for hot, dry sites where you want tons of color all season. Most salvias don't like cool weather, so plant them outdoors after all danger of frost has passed.


Veronica 'Purplicious'
Marty Baldwin

Easy and undemanding, veronicas catch the eye in sunny gardens over many months. Some have mats with loose clusters of saucer-shaped flowers, while others group their star or tubular flowers into erect tight spikes. A few veronicas bring elusive blue to the garden, but more often, the flowers are purplish or violet blue, rosy pink, or white. Provide full sun and average well-drained soil. Regular deadheading extends bloom time.

Garden Plans for Artemisia

Colorful Slope Garden Plan

Drought Tolerant Slope Garden Plan
Illustration by Mavis Augustine Torke

Transform a tough hillside into drifts of color with show stopping results.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is it okay to plant artemisia with edible plants?

    Tarragon, A. dracunculus, is an excellent plant to include in your herb garden and grows nicely alongside lemon balm, lemon thyme, chives, parsley, rosemary, and sage. However, other types of artemisia should be avoided in edible gardens as the chemical substance contained in the leaves can wash into the soil and inhibit the growth of nearby plants. If you want to use artemisia as a natural pest repellent near your vegetable garden—it is especially adept at repelling mosquitoes and carrot flies—plant it in containers and place them around the perimeter of your garden.  

  • How do I keep artemisia from overtaking my garden?

    Artemisia is a plant that expands by spreading rhizomes—a subterranean plant stem that sends out fleshy roots from its nodes to form new shoots. You can keep it in check by confining it to a specific area (with a container buried underground) or by digging it up and dividing it regularly.  

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  1. Tarragon, ASPCA

  2. Artemisia, North Carolina State University

  3. Li J, Chen L, Chen Q, Miao Y, Peng Z,Huang B, Guo L, Liu D, Du H. Allelopathic effect of Artemisia argyi on thegermination and growth of various weeds. Sci Rep. 2021 Feb 22;11(1):4303. doi:10.1038/s41598-021-83752-6. PMID: 33619315; PMCID: PMC7900198.

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