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Products > Artemisia ludoviciana 'Valerie Finnis'
Artemisia ludoviciana 'Valerie Finnis' - Silver Wormwood

Note: This plant is not currently for sale. This is an archive page preserved for informational use.  
Image of Artemisia ludoviciana 'Valerie Finnis'
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Asteraceae (Sunflowers)
Origin: North America
Flower Color: White
Bloomtime: Summer
Height: 1-2 feet
Width: Spreading
Exposure: Full Sun
Summer Dry: Yes
Deer Tolerant: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: < 0 F
Artemisia ludoviciana 'Valerie Finnis' (Valerie Finnis Silver Wormwood) - A low, spreading sub-shrub/perennial that grows to form mounds to 2 feet tall by 4 feet or more wide (spreads slowly in heavier clay soils but runs more freely in lighter sandy ones) with large white-gray felted aromatic lance-shaped leaves that are lobed near the tips and on stems of the same color. In mid-summer appear the clusters of small yellowish to cream-white flowers that rise just above the foliage - flowers while interesting, are not that attractive.

Plant in full to part sun (plants get floppy with too much shade) with occasional to very little irrigation - drought tolerant, once established. Completely dormant in winter and hardy well below 0F and can reportedly be grown down to USDA Zone 4a (-30F) and some say even to USDA Zone 1 (-50F). Give a hard annual cutting back to the ground to keep tidy and prune off flowers to rejuvenate growth. This plant is not attractive to deer and tolerates poor or dry soils so long as they drain well. It is an outstanding silver-leafed perennial for a sunny border or large container where its white leaves brighten up any space and are particularly dramatic in the moonlit garden. It is also useful in cut flower arrangements or in dried arrangements after stems have been dried by hanging upside-down in a darkened room but avoid using the flowers in this respect, as some allergies are reported to the pollen of this plant.

Artemisia ludoviciana is a widespread throughout the entire North American continent - in California it can be found in the Peninsular Ranges (mountains and hills south of San Gorgonio Pass) and in the deserts. The name for the genus likely honors Artemisia II of Caria, a botanist and medical researcher who died in 350 BC but whose name came from the Greek goddess Artemis, whom the Romans called Diana. The specific epithet is a Latinized version of the word Louisiana and is a reference to the area of the Louisiana purchase where the British born American botanist Thomas Nuttall first described this species from along the banks of the Mississippi near St. Louis and included it in his The Genera of North American Plants in 1818. It is also called White Sagebrush, Western Mugwort, Louisiana Wormwood and Gray Sagewort.

There have been many selections made of the species and many feel that 'Valerie Finnis' is among the best. It is noted as holding up well to summer heat and humidity and is resistant to predation by deer and rabbits. This plant was brought to England by Valerie Finnis (19242006), British gardener and photographer, in 1950 from the Munich Botanic Garden, where it was being grown under the incorrect name of Artemisia borealis. She gave the plant to eminent plantswoman Beth Chatto, who named it in her honor and was awarded the Victoria Medal of Honour in 1975 by the Royal Horticultural Society. The Chicago Botanic Garden concluded a 4 year study of Artemisia cultivars in 1996 and in this study they concluded that Artemisia ludoviciana 'Valerie Finnis' was the best cultivar of the white sage group because its foliage was the most vibrant, had less floppy stems, and spread more slowly than the other cultivars. 

This information about Artemisia ludoviciana 'Valerie Finnis' displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.