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Artemisia vulgaris, how to grow the mugwort herb

Artemisia vulgaris, mugwort

Good for cooking and health, simple to grow, common wormwood (or mugwort) has many advantages going for it.

Key mugwort facts:

Latin name: Artemisia vulgaris
Common name: mugwort, wormwood
Family: Asteraceae

Type: perennial, herb plant
Height: up to 5 feet (1.50 m)
Exposure: sunny
Soil: ordinary, even poor

Blooming: summer – Foliage: deciduous – Harvest: end spring → mid-summer

What is Artemisia mugwort?

What is artemisiaMugwort is a rapidly growing, robust perennial with stiff, upright stems tinged with purple. Its leaves, aromatic, are very cut, dark green on top and grayer underneath. In summer, around July-August, large cream yellow flower panicles appear.

Did you know?

Stems and leaves of mugwort make for a great insect repellent weedy tea.

Planting Artemisia vulgaris

Plant density: 1 to 2 plants for 10 square feet (per square meter). For common mugwort to grow, it needs:

  • sunlight (even if partial shade is tolerated);
  • protection from wind;
  • and soil that’s somewhat light, moist but well-drained.

The ideal time to plant it is in early fall (September-October): The return of rains and still mild temperatures will aid its recovery.

Planting artemisiaWhen it comes to planting Artemisia vulgaris, you just have to:

  • Dig a hole about 8 inches deep (20 cm);
  • Remove the root ball from the pot and break it up gently to promote root development;
  • Place a little bit of potting soil at the bottom of the hole (this step is not mandatory, but it helps the plant to settle);
  • Place the plant in the hole and refill it, compacting it well;
  • Water it thoroughly;
  • Mulch the soil around the plant, to maintain the moisture.

It’s also possible to sow the seeds of common mugwort. In this case, the operation takes place in two steps:

  • In spring, spread seeds in a terrine or a pot filled with a mixture of potting soil and sand. Maintain slight moisture in the substrate;
  • In early fall, select the most vigorous plants and plant them in open ground, spaced 15.7 to 23.6 inches apart.

Note that sage and common mugwort don’t always get along. Avoid planting them next to each other.

Artemisia plant care

Pay careful attention to watering during dry periods. In winter, add more mulch to maintain a sufficient level for retaining moisture.

Pruning mugwort

In autumn, when foliage starts to wither, cut back the clump an inch (a few centimeters) from the ground. If you wish to prevent excessive plant growth, remove the flowers after blooming.

Propagating common Artemisia

Propagation artemisiaAs is often the case with perennial plants, the easiest way to propagate a common artemisia is by dividing it in autumn. It is also possible to sow seeds indoors and then transplant the young plants.

Another option: let nature takes its course, since Artemisia vulgaris easily self-sows. In autumn, collect the new plants and replant them wherever you like.

Diseases and Pests

Resistant to diseases, Artemisia vulgaris does not appear to attract harmful insects.

Common Artemisia in cooking

Perfect for all types of recipes, artemisia, as an herb, can accompany both meats and fish, as well as soups or vegetables. In May-June, harvest only the young shoots, which are the most fragrant; older stems are mostly bitter.

Benefits of Artemisia

Artemisia health benefitsArtemisia vulgaris possesses vermifuge and anti-inflammatory properties, and can even be used for digestive disorders or painful menstrual periods. For digestive problems and intestinal parasites, drink 1 to 2 cups of infusion per day. The same goes for painful menstruation, where the intake should be done for 8 to 10 days in advance.

Preparing common Artemisia infusion

  • Harvest leaves in July and let them dry.
  • Use 1 tablespoon of dried leaves for ½ to ¾ cup of boiling water.
  • Let it steep for 5 to 10 minutes.


Although natural, the use of medicinal plants is not without contraindications. Therefore, common artemisia may cause skin allergies in certain individuals. If in doubt, consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Images: 123RF: Nontawat Thongsibsong, Somkak Sarykunthot, CC BY-SA 2.0: Mrs. Gemstone, Daniel; Pixabay: Merja Partanen
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