Artemisia vulgaris (Mugwort)

Full Sun
Soil Type:
Most Types
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Plant Overview

A native wildflower steeped in folklore. For hundreds of years it was made into garlands and hung over doors to deter evil spirits. It has also been used in place of hops for beer, as a moth repellent, herbally to cure nervousness in women(!) and to cure consumption.

Mugwort is a large plant covered in small white flowers from August to October. The red stems make interesting additions to dried flower arrangements. It will grow in pretty much any soil in full sun or partial shade and lends a wild feel to a border. In the wild it can be seen growing on verges, field boundaries and wasteland.

Height and Spread: 1-2m x 60cm

Common names: Mugwort; Apple Pie; St. John's Herb; Bollon Bane; Felonherb; Midge PLant; Sailor's Tobacco; Old Uncle Henry; Naughty man; Maiden's Wort.

The word Mugwort comes from the old English 'Mucgwyrt', meaning Midgewort for its insect repellent qualities.

History and Folklore

There is a saying in Scotland and Northern England, although there is no record regarding how nettles or Muggins (Mugwort) should be used:

If nettles were used in March, and Muggins in May
Many a bra'lass wudna turn to l'clay

From century collection of Anglo-Saxon medical texts and prayers found in the 10th century book 'Lacnunga' comes this poem:

Eldest of worts
Thou hast might for three
And against thirty
For venom availest For flying vile things
Mighty against loathed ones
That throughout the land rove.

Gerards Herbal (1597) says of Mugwort's virtues:

"Pliny saith, That the traveller or wayfaring man that hath the herbe tied about him feeleth no wearisomnesse at all; and that he who hath it about him can be hurt by no poysonsome medicines, by any wilde beast, neither yet by the Sun it selfe; and also that it is drunke against Opium, or the juyce of blacke Poppy. Many other fantasticall devices invented by Poets are to be seene in the Works of the Antient Writers, tending to witchcraft and sorcerie, and the great dishonour of God: wherefore I do of purpose omit them, as things unworthy of my recording, to your reviewing."

It was believed that if you dug under mugwort on Midsummer's Eve you would find a 'coal'. Carrying the coal protected the bearer from plague, ague, burning and lightning strike. It also protected them from witchcraft.

The plant has a long association with St John the Baptist and it was believed that the saint wore a girdle of the herb during his time in the wilderness. The plant is known as St John's plant in several European countries and was traditionally collected there on St John's Eve to give protection against all illnesses, evil and misfortune.

It is thought that Romans may have placed Mugwort in their sandals to prevent aching feet on marches.

And if a Footman take Mugwort and put it into his
Shoes in the Morning, he may go forty miles
Before noon and not be weary
~William Coles, The Art of Simpling, 1656



Photo: H. Zell / CC BY-SA

All our plants are supplied in 9cm pots unless otherwise specified. Plants in this size pot establish quickly in the garden and often outpace plants in bigger pots planted at the same time. Our potted plants can be planted immediately, unless otherwise noted, or you can leave them in their pots until you are ready to plant.
The majority of our plants are grown outdoors. This means that they follow their natural growth patterns and are ready to plant at any time of the year. If you order the plants in winter, they are likely to be dormant and died back to ground level, ready to shoot again in spring - just like the herbaceous perennials in your own garden. Very occasionally, in winter, we may indicate on the packing slip that a plant needs to be hardened off before planting out. This will be because it has just come out of a polytunnel. If you have any questions about our plants or growing methods, please feel free to drop us an email.
We grow most of what we sell ourselves, in our nursery in the Buckinghamshire countryside. Our prices include VAT at 20%.