Bitter Wormwood: Growing Artemisia Absinthium

http://www.motherearthliving.com/In-the-Garden/growing-artemisia-absinthium.aspx

H.CardenasHeidi Cardenas is a freelance writer and gardener in Lake County, Illinois, with a background in human resources. She has written about gardening for various online venues and enjoys The Herb Companion’s valuable resources. 

I found a beautiful, 12-inch tall plant at a local nursery about four years ago. It had pungent, delicate yellow and green leaves growing from a central stalk. It was labeled artemisia. It was very pretty and I had to have it. I brought it home and planted it next to a small pond beside our deck. It grew to about three feet high that first summer.

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Wormwood is an attractive herbaceous perennial.
Photo by Heidi Cardenas
 

It turns out that the plant is more commonly known as wormwood (Artemesia absinthium). I didn’t find out about the plant’s growing habits or anything much besides noting from its label that it is a perennial plant.

The following spring, there were about a hundred little artemisia seedlings in the lawn all around the original plant. I dug them up and moved them to a border garden alongside a fence, happy to have many free seedlings of such a beautiful plant, but now I had a perennial management problem. Contain the plants by cutting the tops before seeding? Move the plants to a contained area, pot them up or sink landscaping borders around their garden bed? Or pull them all up and reduce the group to just a couple of plants?

I ended up separating them and spreading them out further along the fence in the back yard. They grew almost four feet high and made a very nice screen, although not quite as thick as a hedge.

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Artemesia is a good shrub for screening fences or undesirable views.
Photo by Heidi Cardenas
 

I didn’t use the foliage for food or medicine, but it can be distilled in cold water to make a deworming tonic for animals; it is a source of absinthol for absinthe; and it has many other medicinal uses. Wormwood is mentioned in the bible and other ancient texts. It’s an herbaceous perennial with a long history that is a versatile and interesting garden and landscape plant.