Artemisia ludoviciana 'Valerie Finnis'
Common Name: western mugwort
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asteraceae
Zone: 5 to 10
Height: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: August to September
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Insignificant, Good Dried
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.

'Valerie Finnis' is generally quite restrained and is not considered to be as aggressive in the garden as the species and some of the other cultivars.

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.

'Valerie Finnis' typically forms a clump of generally erect, non-woody stems to 18-24" tall and as wide. Narrow lance-shaped leaves (to 4" long) may be lobed near the tips. Foliage is aromatic when bruised. Species is native to the western United States including Missouri and is commonly called white sage. A Royal Horticutural Society of Great Britain Award of Garden Merit plant (1993).

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.