Southern Wormwood, Southernwood, Lad's Love, Old Man

Artemisia abrotanum

Family: Asteraceae (ass-ter-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Artemisia (ar-te-MIZ-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: abrotanum (ab-ro-TAN-um) (Info)




Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun


Grown for foliage



This plant is resistant to deer

Foliage Color:



36-48 in. (90-120 cm)


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)


USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Pollen may cause allergic reaction

Bloom Color:

Bright Yellow

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Summer/Early Fall

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing the rootball

From softwood cuttings

From hardwood cuttings

By simple layering

Seed Collecting:

N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Pittsburg, California

Tampa, Florida

Fayette, Iowa

Iowa City, Iowa

Upper Marlboro, Maryland

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Stow, Ohio

Portland, Oregon

Lansdowne, Pennsylvania

Monessen, Pennsylvania

Pennsburg, Pennsylvania

Galveston, Texas

Houston, Texas

Palmer, Texas

Petersburg, Virginia

Stanwood, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On May 13, 2018, sineadscrap from San Francisco, CA wrote:

I was inspired to seek out this herb after reading War Poet, Edward Thomas's beautiful poem, "Old Man." He never wanted to be without this herb at his front door.

It has so many names~ "Lad's Love," "Maiden's Ruin." I presume it's also "Mugwort."

I too love its bitter sweet scent.

Have just bought three varieties~
"Powys Castle," "Parfum d Ethiopia," and "David's Choice."


On Nov 19, 2009, bonehead from Cedarhome, WA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Plant this somewhere you will brush up against it for the fresh clean scent. Cut it for use as a filler in flower arrangements, in addition to adding a nice smell, will also repel bugs. To keep it tidy, prune hard in early spring, taking out the larger woody stems from the middle.


On May 19, 2004, plantfreedom from Saint Paul, MN (Zone 4b) wrote:

I have had this herb growing next to my pond for about three years now. I love its look in the spring and early summer and has a pleasing delicate smell. By mid-summer and thereafter it tends to become leggy and brown starting at the base and working its way up. I'm wondering if this is normal or am I doing something wrong. It is in well drained somewhat sandy soil, gets full sun. Does it need some kind of special nutrient, certain watering needs, etc.? Should it be cut down every so often during the growing season? Thanks for any help.


On Apr 22, 2004, angelam from melbourne,
Australia wrote:

My grandfather had a hedge of this plant, at least 5ft high. It was dense, soft to brush against and smelt wonderful, especially when he was clipping it. This was in the North of England. It grows equally well in my zone 10 garden, and I wouldn't be without it.


On Jul 27, 2002, darius from So.App.Mtns.,
United States (Zone 5b) wrote:

Wonderful soft, fragrant, ferny silver foliage. Gets tiny yellow flowers in the summer (see close-up photo) but not grown for the flowers. I clip them off. Slow grower, at least in my garden beds.


On Jun 9, 2002, Johngl wrote:

I bought it from an aromatic garden in Norfolk, UK, because of its wonderful lemon-cedar smell. It can be used to flavour fatty meats (duck and pork) and as an alternative ingredient in a pot pourri.
Traditionally the plant was grown in herb gardens to keep witches out. It is a perennial shrub with feathery grey/green leaves that are covered in a down.
Dried leaves can be used in linen bags to prevent insects and an infusion of the leaves can be used as a hair rinse to combat dandruff. How's that for versatility?