Artemisia ludoviciana 'Silver King'

Tried and Trouble-free Recommended by 5 Professionals
Common Name: white sage
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asteraceae
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: August to September
Bloom Description: Yellowish-gray
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Colorful, Fragrant
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer, Drought, Erosion, Dry Soil

Culture

Best grown in poor to moderately fertile, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Excellent soil drainage is essential for growing this plant well. Plants perform poorly in moist to wet soils where they are susceptible to root rot. Plant stems tend to lodge in summer, especially if grown in fertile soils and/or part shade. General foliage decline commonly occurs in high humidity summer climates such as the St. Louis area. Consider pinching back stems in late spring to reduce mature plant height. If foliage declines or stems flop in summer, plants may be sheared to revitalize. Plants may spread somewhat aggressively in the garden by rhizomes and by self-seeding. Prompt removal of flower heads as they appear prevents self-seeding. Soil barriers may be considered to help contain rhizomatous spread. Propagate by division in late summer to early autumn.

SILVER KING may spread somewhat aggressively in the garden by rhizomes, though it appears to be more restrained than the species. Soil barriers may be considered if growing it in borders close to other valuable perennials.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Artemisia ludoviciana is native throughout North America from Canada to Mexico. In Missouri, it is typically found growing on rocky prairies, glades, bluff escarpments, open wooded slopes, waste ground, along roads and railroads primarily in the northern and western parts of the State (Steyermark). It is commonly called white sage because of the appearance of its foliage. This is an erect, rhizomatous, somewhat weedy, herbaceous perennial that grows in spreading clumps to 2-3' (less frequently to 4') tall on greenish white stems clad with aromatic, sage-like, lance-shaped leaves (to 2-4” long) that are white woolly beneath and nearly glabrous above. Foliage adds texture and contrast to gardens. Tiny, somewhat inconspicuous, yellowish-gray, discoid flower heads (rays absent) appear in dense panicles at the stem ends in summer. Flowers have little ornamental value. Flowers give way to dry achenes. Foliage is aromatic when bruised.

Genus is named for Artemis, Greek goddess of the moon, wild animals and hunting.

Specific epithet is in reference to the Louisiana Territory.

'Silver King' typically forms a spreading clump of generally erect, non-woody stems to 36” tall, with the clumps creeping outward by rhizomes to 2-3’ wide. Foliage is aromatic when bruised. Species is also commonly called western mugwort. This plant is most commonly sold in the U.S. as a cultivar but the Royal Horticultural Society lists the name as Artemisia ludoviciana subsp. mexicana var. albula and indicates that Silver King is a common name.

Problems

Foliage may decline and plant stems may flop in summer. Susceptible to root rot in moist soils, particularly poorly-drained ones. Watch for unwanted spread by rhizomes and/or self-seeding.

Garden Uses

Silver-green foliage provides excellent contrast to flowering plants and green foliage. Invasive habit discourages use of this plant in borders or herb gardens. Good selection for areas with poor dry soils. Good selection for isolated areas where it can naturalize without risk to other plants.