Growing Guide
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Herbaceous Perennial Flower, Herb

Also known as Absinth, Old Woman, Common Wormwood
Artemisia absinthium
Asteraceae Family

Finely-cut, silver-gray foliage acts as a showy contrast in perennial borders. Scented leaves are used in wreathes and potpourris.

Site Characteristics
  • full sun
  • part shade
Prefers full sun.

Soil conditions:

  • tolerates droughty soil
  • requires well-drained soil
  • tolerates low fertility
Grows well in near-neutral loamy soil. Tolerates poor, alkaline, dry and salty soil and is drought-resistant.

Hardiness zones:

  • 4 to 9

Special locations:

  • rock gardens
  • xeriscapes
Plant Traits

Lifecycle: perennial

Ease-of-care: easy

Height: 1 to 3 feet

Spread: 1 to 2.5 feet

Bloom time:

  • early summer
  • mid-summer
  • late summer
  • early fall

Flower color: yellow

Yellow-gray, often removed to prolong foliage quality.

Foliage color:

  • gray-green
  • other


Foliage texture: fine

Fine but dense.


  • upright
  • loose and formless

Shape in flower:

  • flower stalks with upright spikes
  • flower stalks with flowers hanging downward

Borne in loose clusters atop short, erect flower stems.

Special Considerations
  • salt
  • heat
Special characteristics:
  • deer resistant
  • non-aggressive
  • non-invasive - Naturalized in Newfoundland, and the United States in higher elevations in New England.
  • not native to North America - Native to Europe, Crimea and Siberia.

  • fragrant - Strongly aromatic and intensified when bruised or cut.
Special uses:
  • dried flowers - Air dry foliage for arrangments. Hang cut foliage in a dry, well-ventilated area. Dried foliage is brittle, so use care in handling.
Growing Information
How to plant:

Propagate by seed, cuttings, layering, division or separation - The plant self-sows slowly. Seed is slow to germinate.

Wormwood is often a short-lived plant but it can easily be vegetatively propagated each year by stem cuttings, layering or division.

Divide in spring or fall.

Maintenance and care:
Plants forms a stout rootstock which sprouts several bushy stems that are somewhat woody at the base. Cut back by half and shape in June to keep bushy. Prune again if the plants begin to get leggy late in the season.

Remove faded flowers, as seed production weakens foliage quality.

Divide plants in spring or fall when centers begin to thin. Discard weakened growth and replant healthy new growth.

More growing information: How to Grow Perennials

White rust
Downy mildew
Powdery mildew
Fungal leaf and stem rots (especially in overly moist sites)
'Lambrook Silver' grows 2.5 feet tall with finely cut silver-gray leaves. One of the best cultivars for the North.

'Silver Frost' grows to about 1.5 feet and has finely-cut silver-green foliage.