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How to Prune Wormwood

Wormwood is a sweet-smelling perennial herb also referred to as mugwort, sweet Annie, or by its Latin name, Artemisia. Wormwood is easy to grow and relatively care-free once established. It is not bothered by diseases or pests and the scent of its foliage actually deters many common garden pests. Wormwood will also keep away moths if the dried leaves and flowers are put into sachets and hung in the closet.

Cut the stems down to about 1 to 2 inches from the ground in early spring the first year after planting. Remove the protective winter mulch first.

Prune in subsequent years by cutting the growth from the previous year back by half. Again, prune in early spring before the plant begins active growth.

Prune to renovate wormwood if growth becomes sparse and it produces few flowers. Do this in early spring before growth begins. Cut all of the stems down to about 1 to 2 inches above ground level.

Prune lightly any time during the growing season to contain wormwood if it becomes unruly or spreads beyond its designated space in the garden. Cut unwanted stems down to within an inch of the ground. Do not remove more than one-third of the mass of wormwood or the remaining vegetative growth may not be enough to feed the plant’s roots.

Plant Wormwood

Wormwood produces a poisonous botanical substance called absinthin. Despite its pleasant aroma, do not consume wormwood or use it in cooking. Wormwood is also a poor planting choice for people with allergies, as it is a heavy source of pollen. Be careful how close you plant wormwood to your home or outdoor seating areas for allergy sufferers. Plant wormwood in flower beds, herb or rock gardens. Plant wormwood in full sun. The best soils for wormwood include dry, non-fertile soils with exceptional drainage. The absinthin in wormwood plants is a water-soluble substance that comes off easily during a rainstorm, washing into the soil.


To dry wormwood for use in sachets, dry small bundles of branches by hanging upside down in a well-ventilated dark place for a few weeks until the leaves are dry and crackle when squeezed between your fingers.

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