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Written by Colorado Green NOW   
Tuesday, January 10, 2023 01:00 AM

Colorado Green Now

 Leprechaun southernwood provides texture and wildlife resistance 

 Contributed by Ross Shrigley and Bev Shaw for Plant Select®

It’s been said by Robin Sharma that “simplicity is the trademark of genius. Leprechaun southernwood (Artemisia abrotanum ‘Leprechaun) is the epitome of that trademark for landscapes in the intermountain region. Even as rabbits and deer are becoming a wildlife staple in neighborhoods, they won’t eat Leprechaun southernwood!  

Interestingly, in the Victorian era, this clean-scented, slightly citrus-smelling plant was included in handheld bouquets to mask overripe body odors of the day. Its pleasant, fine green texture enhanced the bouquets, acting as floral filler and showcasing other flowers in the arrangement. We have now found other uses for Leprechaun’s scent, though discouraging herbivory is an important asset.  

Look at a perennial border and imagine the enhanced presentation Leprechaun southernwood could make with its fine, airy texture and dark green coloration behind all the vibrant flowers. Combine it with groupings of Undaunted® ruby muhly grass to set off those red seed heads. This woody perennial behaves more like a shrub and can also be used as an informal or formal hedge by shearing it. Every fall, be sure to its sheared back to 4 inches. This annual maintenance practice will encourage the presentation of fresh emerald green growth each spring, while allowing space for a carpet of early spring flowering bulbs to bloom at its base. 

In this semi-arid climate southernwood won’t let you down. Water for 15 minutes once a week for 12 weeks throughout the summer, and it will thrive. Water too much and this plant will let you know by growing wider at the base and resting in the landscape like a dollop of bread dough waiting to rise. Low watering keeps Leprechaun more cylindrical, and roughly 2 feet tall and wide.  

The name “southernwood” was given when it was introduced to the British in the 1500s and is a mashup of the words “southern” and “wormwood.” The genus Artemisia thrives in dry, full sun to part shade spots in the landscape. The specific selection that became ‘Leprechaun’ was discovered in southern Wyoming by Kelly Grummons. Hardy to USDA Zone 4, this southern European native rarely flowers and has never been observed going to seed in the Plant Select trials.  

Leprechaun southernwood is another offering that will bring brilliant simplicity to every garden. And a little bit of leprechaun luck might help your garden as well. Try it in your garden this spring. Read the complete article in Colorado Green.

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