Common Name: silky wormwood
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Native Range: Southeastern and eastern Russia, North America and Canada
Zone: 3 to 10
Height: 0.50 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: August
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Full sun
Suggested Use: Ground Cover
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer, Drought
Best grown in poor to moderately fertile, dry, well-drained soils in full sun. Excellent soil drainage is essential for growing this plant well. Does poorly in moist to wet soils where plants are susceptible to root rot. Plants typically develop deep taproots in dry soils, but often develop much shallower root systems if grown in moist soils. Plant stems may lodge in the summer, especially if grown in fertile soils and/or part shade. General foliage decline often occurs in high humidity summer climates such as the St. Louis area. Prune plants in spring to control growth, but be careful to leave sufficient numbers of live buds on each stem to facilitate bushy growth. Never prune stems to the ground. Foliage may also be lightly sheared in summer to shape, but avoid pruning in fall. Foliage is evergreen in warm winter climates, but not in the St. Louis area.
This species of wormwood is a tufted, low-spreading, woody-based perennial that is primarily cultivated for its aromatic (camphor-scented), silver-white foliage. Erect, clustered, herbaceous stems with deeply-cut, silky-haired, silvery-white foliage rise up from tough, woody crowns. Stems typically grow to 9-16” tall in gardens. Tiny yellow flowers in nodding clusters bloom in summer, but are not particularly showy. Foliage is finely divided and feathery in appearance, hence the also used common names of fringed sagebrush, fringed sage-wort and fringed wormwood. This species is native to western North America, where it is most commonly found on dry open sites and waste areas in the Great Plains, foothills and mountains. Although it has spread or escaped gardens in at least two different western Missouri counties (Steyermark), it is not considered to be a Missouri native plant. Additional common names for this species include praire sagewort, pasture sagebrush and mouintain sage.
Plants tend to open up in summer in hot and humid climates. Susceptible to root rot in moist soils, particularly poorly drained ones.
Silver-white foliage provides excellent contrast to flowering plants and green foliage in rock gardens, wildflower gardens, border fronts and herb gardens. Good selection for areas with poor dry soils.