Name: wormwood (Artemisia absinthium).
Height: 1m, with a similar spread.
Plant type: herbaceous perennial.
Foliage: silver and finely dissected.
Climate: succeeds in arid/semi-arid, cold temperate, warm temperate and sub-tropical regions, and will tolerate frosts.
Soil: will tolerate most soils provided they drain well.
Position: full sun.
Flowering: small yellow flowers in summer.
Feeding: sprinkle slow-release fertiliser around the base of the plant annually in spring.
Watering: dry tolerant. Young plants require watering as they establish. Established plants rarely need watering, except in extremely long dry periods.
Wormwood has fine, much-divided leaves that are so silver they almost look white. The growth is shrub-like and made up of many upright growing stems. It naturally holds its shape, which is why it is sometimes used as a hedge. The flowers occur in summer and are small, yellow and not very showy.
Wormwood is most often used as an informal—that is, unclipped—hedge, especially in hotter and drier districts.
The silvery foliage makes a great backdrop to other garden plants, especially ones with darker or wine-coloured foliage.
The foliage gives off a pungent scent that is said to have insect-repelling properties.
The Artemisia absinthium species of wormwood is used to make absinthe, and is also used to flavour other wines, beers and spirits. It also has medicinal properties, and is sometimes used in teas.
You can plant wormwood in any sunny spot on just about any type of soil, provided it doesn't stay wet for long periods. In heavier soils you might want to grow it in a raised garden bed to ensure good drainage.
The plant can be given a light all-over trim with hedge shears or hedge trimmers in late summer to remove the dead flower heads and promote fresh growth. Older plants that need renewal can be cut back hard—almost to the ground—to produce new silvery foliage. Do this in mid-spring.
Wormwood has very few problems, although it can look less than its best if the ground stays wet for long periods. It is very rarely troubled by insect pests due to its insect-repelling oils.
Take 10–15cm-long cuttings of unflowered new growth in summer. Strip off the bottom half of the leaves, dip the end into a rooting hormone and place the cuttings into a pot of propagating sand. Rooted cuttings will be ready to plant out in about six months.
If you look at the base of an established old wormwood plant, sometimes you will find a shoot coming up from the ground that has already started to produce roots. You can gently break this away from the mother plant and pot it up into potting mix. Prune so that the shoot is about 10cm long.
Daisies: easy-care shrubs with showy flowers for many months.
Lavender: grey foliage plant with purple flowers and scented foliage.
Pyrethrum daisies: white daisy flowers are a feature of this plant, well-known as an insect repellent.