Four Artemisia varieties for Silver planting schemes

Artemisia abrotanum (top-left) Artemisia alba ‘Canescens’ (top-right) Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ (bottom-left) Artemisia schmidtiana ‘Silver Mound’ (bottom-right)

The Wormwood family (Artemisia species) include some very garden-worthy plants which provide some of the best silver and grey foliage for the garden. These easy-going perennials produce mounds or shoots clothed in whorls of fine textured leaves which blend beautifully with other plants.

They are particularity valuable when combined with whites, greys and blues helping to create a light, shimmering silvery effect. Give them a sunny spot in well-drained soil and they will thrive. In most cases the foliage is scented too. Great for herb gardens, gravel and rock gardens and Mediterranean gardens.

In this article I want to tell you about four great varieties that I grow and share with you some examples of planting combinations that might inspire you.

All four are hardy, easy to grow and well behaved — they do not run at the roots like some Artemisia species.

1 Silvermound (Artemisia schmidtiana)

Artemisia schmidtiana ‘Silver Mound’ growing alongside Dianthus Dainty Dame, Festuca Glauca ‘Elijah Blue’ and Lavandula ‘Hidcote’

Silvermound
(Artemisia schmidtiana)
——
12in (30cm)
16in (40cm)
silver foliage
Mar-Dec
full sun
free-drained soil
soft to touch

Information

Silvermound (Artemisia schmidtiana) is a semi-evergreen perennial, native of Japan. In spring fresh shoots emerge from the base which quickly grow to makes a neat dome of silvery-grey foliage which is unbelievably silky-soft to the touch. The individual leaves are finely divided giving a starry look to the whole plant. The foliage has a slightly camphor scent when brushed. It is very accommodating, growing well alongside other small and medium sized plants in the border where it can set off other plants. Style: Great for Mediterranean, Rock, Gravel, Alpine and Herb gardens, or towards the front of a herbaceous border.

Cultivation Tips

> Tiny yellow flowers appear in late summer, but these are insignificant and can be trimmed off to keep the plant neat.
> Prune back if spreading too far or if commuting with adjacent plants. Cut shoots quickly re-sprout from lower down.
> In winter cut back all stems close to the base.
> Divide every few years and replant the pieces to maintain vigour.

Varieties

A. schmidtiana ‘Silver Mound’
Forms a very uniform, compact dome. (pictured below) which grows 10 to 14 in. (25 – 35 cm) high and 12 to 18 in. across (30 to 45 cm). Best given space to develop its shape. If planted close to other plants it will grow through them

A. schmidtiana ‘nana
A low growing variety which only reaches 4 to 8 in. (10 – 20 cm) high and spreads 12 to 16 in. across (30 to 40 cm). Ideal for growing close to smaller alpines in the rock garden

Gallery

2 White wormwood (A. Alba ‘Canescens’)

White wormwood
(Artemisia alba ‘Canescens’)
——
16in (40cm)
18in (45cm)
silver-white foliage
Mar-Dec
full sun
free-drained soil
one of the whitest

Information

White wormwood (Artemisia alba ‘Canescens’) is a semi-evergreen shrubby perennial, native of the Mediterranean. The species is grey-green with glandular hairs making the stems appear silver-green. In the variety Canescens the whole plant is a very light silvery grey. Multiple stems of the finest filagree foliage arise from a central base, creating an open, loose clump of upward-arching stems . Planted close to other perennials the stems will snake their way up through adjacent plants. The individual leaves are heavily divided, thread-like and recurved creating a striking netting effect. In full sun and drought the foliage seems to get whiter.

Cultivation Tips

> Small flowers appear in late summer, but these are insignificant and can be trimmed off to keep the plant neat.
> Pinch out new stems to encourage bushiness.
> In winter cut back all stems close to the base. (Leave until spring in cold areas)

Planting idea

A busy border of drough-Tolerant Pollinator plants

This is a four feet deep and eight feet wide border in July with a mixture of border-perennials, alpines and shrubby herbs, which is visited continually by bees and butterflies. Holding the arrangement together Artemisia alba Canescens weaves its way through the mid ground, flanked on either side by similarly silvery spires of Perovskia atriplicifolia Little Spire which are topped all summer with their violet-blue hooded flowers. Behind are purple Aster Monch which flower for ages. To the right a few mauve-pink blooms of Penstemon Sour Grapes are visible. Bottom left a Sedum. In the central foreground Phlox douglasii ‘Eva’ grows between two rocks. Bottom right deep blue Hyssop pushes in. The dried seed heads of Alium nigrum add contrasting form and colour.

3 Artemisia arborescens ‘Powis Castle’

Wormwood Powis Castle
(Artemisia arborescens)
——
20in (50cm)
30in (80cm)
silver-white foliage
Mar-Dec
full sun
free-drained soil
one of the whitest

Information

Powis Castle (Artemisia alba ‘Canescens’) is a semi-evergreen dwarf shrub with a fluffy rounded habit. It develops a woody branching stem from which grey shoots grow in the spring. The silver-grey leaves are finely dissected and fernlike, giving the whole plant a soft cloud appearance.

Cultivation Tips

> Small flowers appear in late summer, but these are insignificant and can be trimmed off to keep the plant neat.
> Pinch out new stems to encourage bushiness.
> In winter cut back all stems hard to prevent legginess. New shoots will emerge in spring from dormant buds along the stems, keeping the plant dense and compact.

Gallery

4 Southernwood (Artemisia abrotamun)

Southernwood / Lad’s Love
(Artemisia abrotanum)
——
24in (60cm)
30in (80cm)
sage-green foliage
Mar-Dec
full sun
free-drained soil
beautiful scent

Information

Southerwood (Artemisia abrotanum) also known as Lad’s Love, is a semi-evergreen dwarf shrub which develops a woody base after several years of being cut back each winter. In spring it produces dark shoots which grow to 2ft tall (60cm) These are clothed in finely dissected grey-green leaves reminiscent of miniature fennel foliage. The whole plant gives off a delicious scent when brushed, so is lovely in a herb garden and close to paths. It provides a wonderful background to mediterranean plants, sages, alliums or sedums. It looks at home with other herbs, and can be clipped to produce a neat dome. If pruned it quickly recovers, greening-up in a few weeks. Cut stems make good additions to vases. When stressed at the height of summer some leaves take on a golden reddish hue.

Cultivation Tips

> Small flowers rarely appear in late summer, but these are insignificant and can be trimmed off.
> Pinch out young stems to encourage bushiness. Trim to keep in bounds.
> In winter cut back all stems back to 6in (15cm) from the ground to prevent legginess. A woody base will develop. New shoots will emerge in spring.

Gallery


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