Plant Spotlight - Wormwood
Wormwood in the Garden
Wormwood or Artemsia absinthum is a powerful medicinal herb. It was infamously associated with Vincent Van Gogh cutting off his ear, after drinking too much of the liquor Absinth, of which Wormwood is the key ingredient.
In the garden however, it is a very attractive and useful addition, particularly as an insect repellent, and is ideal to plant around your entertaining areas in pots or hanging baskets to deter the pesky bugs that you don't want to invite to your parties!
Wormwood repels insects like mosquitoes and mites
Benefits of Wormwood
Wormwood is an attractive plant with feathery silver/grey/green foliage and small yellow or white flowers. It is an easy care plant that comes in three varieties: Artemsia or Tree Wormwood, ‘Powis Castle’ Wormwood, which grows to 1m x 1m in size, and Artemsia frigida which is the groundcover form.
All forms are hardy plants and are heat and wind tolerant, require minimal pruning and will happily thrive in poor soils as long as there is good drainage. It is also drought and frost tolerant. It is great in rockeries, as a low hedge, or as a border plant in an ornamental garden.
Wormwood has an attractive feathery foliage
Wormwood in the Chicken Coop
Wormwood is a particularly useful companion plant to have around chicken coops, not only for discouraging pests like flies, mosquitoes and rodents, but also the chickens recognise its medicinal benefits and will peck it to help rid themselves of internal parasites and worms, seemingly in just the right amounts!
Chickens will also rub themselves against the plants to release the oils that can help rid them of any parasites like mites that may be living in their feathers. The prunings are a great addition to add to nesting boxes for this reason as well. As it is a tough plant, once established, it will generally survive the chickens scratching around it which makes it a great plant to include for extra greenery in and around your chicken yard when little else will survive.
Wormwood is a useful plant in a chicken coop
Wormwood as a Medicinal Plant
When dried, Wormwood plant is a powerful natural medicine due to its strong anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties. Aside from repelling insects and killing internal parasites, it is purported to be useful in treating conditions like malaria, Crohn’s disease, cancer, and nervous system disorders. (Caution - it should only be used under medical supervision by a qualified naturopath, as it can be toxic in high doses.) The leaves can also be steeped in water and used as a natural insecticide spray for ornamental plants like roses or gardenias. It is not suitable to use on your edible plants.
Location, Location, Location
Despite the many benefits listed above, Wormwood is also a plant that should be treated with caution.
It should not be planted where dogs, cats or small children can ingest it. The absinth chemical in Wormwood, can also inhibit growth in other plants so it is is best planted either in pots, or around the borders of your garden and in ornamental garden beds rather than edible ones.
The only exception would be if you have an area designated to growing carrots as Wormwood is a good companion plant to deter carrot fly.
As with all elements in a good garden design, location, and purpose should be front of mind when choosing plants for your garden. As we say in Permaculture, we choose the right plant, for the right place and for the right reason - and in the right location, Wormwood will be a great addition to your home garden.
Where to Buy Wormwood Seeds?
Urban Revolution stocks Wormwood seeds from Yilgarn Seeds and our staff are always happy to provide help with your garden questions or general planting advice.
Please comment below if you have any additional information or experiences to share about this wonderful multi-use plant Wormwood.