Wormwood is a plant known for its ability to keep ants, mice, moths and flies away, due to its distinctive, bitter odor. The plant is tall, resembling a shrub, and has grey and green stems, its leaves wrapped in a spiral pattern around the tips. It is effective at keeping leaf damaging insects away from other plants in the garden, though its chemicals are harmful to certain species.
Step 1 – Sow the Seeds
Wormwood can be planted in the late winter and late summer months. If planting in the winter, make sure any frost danger has passed. As an alternative, you can plant wormwood seeds inside and move them outside once you are sure any threat of frost has disappeared. Sow the seeds into the soil – which should be covered with fine seed compost – going only about 2mm deep. Wormwood needs a lot of room to grow, and as the seeds are so tiny, you can plant more than you need. As the seedlings sprout, you can move the extras to pots or other areas of the garden or yard.
Step 2 – Allow Seeds to Germinate
Keep the soil lightly watered, but not overly wet, and do not cover the seeds. Wormwood needs light to germinate, and will take 2 to 4 weeks for seedlings to emerge. Once the plants have grown more than two leaves, separate them by 18 to 20 inches. Wormwood is a sizeable plant, and must have ample space to grow.
Step 3 – Transplant or Pot Plants
If you have planted more seeds than necessary, you can transplant them when they’re strong enough to be moved. Generally, this is after the first two leaves appear. If you want to grow wormwood in a pot, keep the pot in partial shade. Wormwood tolerates direct sunlight, but thrives best when it only receives a few hours a day.
Step 4 – Maintain Soil and Foliage
Wormwood is an easy to grow, adaptable plant that does not need overwatering. Make sure that the soil does not dry out during the hot weather – one a week should be sufficient. In the spring, cut wormwood back to allow fresh growth. In the winter, the plant is hardy enough to survive a frost, but the dead foliage must be cut when winter passes so the plant can start growing once more.
Step 5- Harvesting
You can start harvesting wormwood plants after they have been growing for at least two years. It is not advisable to harvest after only one year because the plants are not as strong or as potent as they will be after being allowed more time to mature. There are numerous uses for wormwood, the most common of these being as an ingredient in absinthe. You can also use the oil of the wormwood as an insect spray or antiseptic, and its upper stalks as a potpourri or sachet.