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What is a Silver Mound Artemisia?

O. Parker
O. Parker

Silver mound artemisia is a low-growing perennial that forms a mounded shape covered with fine, silky, silver-gray foliage. As an ornamental, the silver mound artemisia makes an attractive border plant or ground cover. It is drought tolerant and suitable for rocky, poor soil conditions, features that lend themselves well to rock garden specimens. The scientific name is Artemisia schmidtiana. This variety, also known by its cultivar name Nana and the common name satiny wormwood, is the only artemisia that grows low to the ground in a compact, clumping formation.

Silver mound artemisia reaches mature height between 6 inches and 18 inches (about 15 cm to 45 cm) tall, forming mounds from 12 inches to 18 inches (about 30 cm to 45 cm) wide. The foliage is delicate with a silky texture and a matted, wooly appearance on short, woody stems. In late August, small yellow flowers emerge from silver buds under the foliage. The flowers are often overlooked and can be removed to improve the health of the plant and the appearance of the foliage.

Silver mound artemisia is drought tolerant.
Silver mound artemisia is drought tolerant.

This ornamental perennial should be planted in full sun or partial shade. Sandy loam and well-draining, moist soil conditions with relatively poor nutrition will encourage this ornamental to reach its most pleasing shape in optimal health. Wet, heavy soils will cause the roots to rot, and standing water is likely to kill the plant. Soil rich in nutrients will encourage the mound to split apart and grow in a spindly fashion by late summer. Silver mound artemisia is tolerant of rocky soil, heat and drought; in humid or wet conditions, the plant is liable to suffer from stem rot and foliage rust.

The individual clumps of the silver mound artemisia spread in a slow, non-aggressive fashion, unlike other members of the artemisia family that tend to be moderately invasive. When planting a ground cover or border, the individual plants should be spaced from 15 inches to 18 inches apart (about 38 cm to 45 cm). In late summer or early fall, the mound is likely to split apart when planted in a garden or area with good soil and nutrition. To prevent this unattractive feature, the foliage should be cut back to half its mass in summer, before the flowers emerge.

The neutral, silvery foliage is often used as a backdrop for other cool color, flowering perennial plants. Purple, lavender, blue, pink, and magenta stand out against the silver foliage. It is often planted under taller shrubs and trees to form a soft, neutral ground cover.

Discussion Comments


I have an artemisia plant in my rock garden, and it is so soft! We have mild winters where I live, so mine stays alive year-round.

I decided to use some of it in a wreath around the holidays. The beautiful silver color lent itself perfectly to the theme of the wreath.

I included red holly berries and dark green holly leaves from the tree out back. The soft artemisia was a nice contrast to the sharp holly leaves. I ended up with a wreath covered entirely in things from my own yard!


It's hard to believe that there is actually a plant that does better in poor soil with less water than in good conditions! This might be the plant for people who say that they kill everything they try to grow.

@kylee07drg – I have seen silver mound artemisia plants used underneath purple and pink plants, and it looked stunning. The mall in my town has several flower beds out on the edges of the parking lot, and they are covered in silver mound artemisia.

I have seen it planted around pink impatiens, purple pansies, and purple heuchera. I think that all of these plants are pretty hardy, so they can take the potting soil in place of regular dirt.

Since the silver mound artemisia is in a raised bed, I guess the drainage is pretty good. I've never seen one of these plants looking sickly at all.

I love using ground covers around my taller flowers, because they help keep weeds down. My artemisia plant reduces the number of times I have to go into my garden and pull up the weeds.

It may not spread as much as some ground covers, but if you plant several fairly close together, it won't matter. It's actually good that they don't spread very much, because you have control over how much ground they cover.

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    • Silver mound artemisia is drought tolerant.
      By: kentauros
      Silver mound artemisia is drought tolerant.