Pacific Northwest Gardening forum: Artemisia in the PNW?

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Name: Deb
Pacific NW (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Deer Ferns Herbs Dragonflies
Spiders! Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry Birds Fruit Growers Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Apr 16, 2015 8:36 AM CST
I have consistently had problems keeping artemisias alive. Some do well for a season or two then simply disappear, others don't overwinter, and still others just struggle along not dying but not doing real good. I suspect they want a more alkaline soil than I have. I have never actually tested my soil but based on the natives (cedar, fir, spruce) I believe I have a fairly acidic soil. The exact same plants (we exchange) typically thrive for my sister who lives in eastern Washington on a river and we assume she has a much more alkaline soil than I do. She also gets a hotter but shorter growing season, which may come into play as well.

The plants I have tried and failed include: Silver Mound, absinthium, various tarragons, mugwort, Powis Castle, Oriental Limelight.

Sweet Annie (annual) grows well for me and reseeds reliably. Southernwood (more shrubby) has been quasi-successful - I've had one for several years, but it gets kind of scrappy looking and needs a lot of remedial pruning (sometimes one whole side will fail while the other thrives).

It appears my white mugwort (Guizhou) has not over-wintered and I plan to replace that because it is so pretty. I am also planning to try another absinthium - perhaps Lambrook Silver which I think may not be as rangy. I may treat tarragon as an annual, because I do like it in my culinary section.

Has anyone else in the PNW had similar problems with artemisias in general, or should I look more closely at my micro-climate to figure out what it is they don't like? For the most part, they have been planted in full sun, good soil, probably more on the dampish side than quick draining but not mucky. I mulch with a cedargrove type mix every year after spring cleanup and usually with shredded leaves after fall cleanup.

So, looking for advice on how to best grow artemisias, and/or reports of what specific cultivars have worked for others in a similar environment. Thanks much.

I have similar problems with sage - replacing two this year for no apparent reason other than they are dead - any connection?

I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
Peonies Ponds Dahlias Canning and food preservation Lilies Permaculture
Garden Ideas: Level 2
Apr 16, 2015 10:11 AM CST
Interesting. I grow Silver Mound and it does very well. I have split one a couple of times to put it in other places. My soil is decidedly acidic and perhaps a tad heavy. I don't do anything for them at all other than cutting back in the spring as they tend to grow to huge mounds that sprawl over fall and winter. I also grow Silver Brocade and Valerie Finnes. VF was positively invasive and I began digging it up. I don't think I have any left. SB can be broken off and planted anywhere and it grows wonderfully. When it 'flowers' I just give it a good haircut and also cut back straggling growth as it would cover anything short around it.

Our average temps are in the 50-60 range, not a lot of rain but fairly cloudy quite often.

My soil is a clay base with organics I guess. I have amended with compost and usually grind up garden detritus and leaves in the fall to spread on the garden. Really over did it last year. I must have 3-4" on some beds. Should I rake it back or will my perennials just grow through it. Am a bit worried about that. Where I have raked back I see nice green growth.

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