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I've scoured the internet and am still unsure what these plants are! They're starting to die off and I'm trying to do some research on what can be done to save them.

They have somewhat feathery silver/green leaves and stems that crawl along the ground and then curve upward into a foot-long stalk with seed pods (but no flowers that I've seen).

Growing conditions: SE Michigan, full sun. They were planted 1-2 Summers ago and were going strong up until about a month ago. My current best guess is that these are wormwood which, I'm told, do better without a lot of water and are susceptible to root rot if they get too much. That seems contrary to what I'm seeing, though; the plants appear to be withering and those closest to a downspout are the doing the best. Any suggestions other than watering, which I am doing (carefully and in small amounts)?

Dying plant alongside healthy one

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Looks like an Artemesia...possiby a 'Snow Mound' in some shade. COOL perennial! Needs some sun and regular water. Could be Silver King...wormwood I believe is another common name for this plant...also needs a bit of pruning, once flowers start showing it is time to head it back, a buzz-cut so to speak. This will keep it thicker. I hate bark...tells me you need to use more fertilizer as decomposers are using mega amounts of Nitrogen. This nutrient is being taken away from plants as decomposers need Nitrogen to do their job decomposing this bark. Another story you should look into.

This ground cover can make a thick massed plant if enough sun, regular water (allow to dry between watering) and a little fertilizer. I used Osmocote Extended Release 14-14-14 for all my shrubs/perennials twice per season. Is this in the shade? On the irrigation system? The middle plant looks pretty much toast...dying/dead. If in the shade, move remaining plants to a sunny spot this fall before the ground freezes.

  • There are no flowers, but should I cut back all of the tall stems with seeds? This picture was taken a few weeks back and the plant on the left is completely dead and was taken out today, the plant on the right is on its way out as well (you can see that it is just beginning to turn brown on the left side in the picture), but I'll try the fertilizer and keep an eye on its water. Thanks for all of the info! – Ryan Jul 30 '15 at 0:24
  • Yes, prune back any reproductive growth. This plant is grown for its vegetative growth (leaves) not for flowers. The energy drain you cut off will then be diverted to the health of the plant above and below ground. Pull back that bark to make sure the roots have been planted in SOIL not the bark or mulch. This is a pretty hardy plant once it has found acceptable conditions...Love that you are out in the garden, seeing, thinking and most important caring about a couple of little plants. You are a gardener, Ryan!! – stormy Jul 30 '15 at 20:37
  • Awesome, thanks @stormy . I cut them back, removed the dead bits, and fertilized. I guess I'll wait and see if that was enough. I'm going to save some of the seeds... maybe I can get some to grow back next year. BTW, I looked it up from the nursery where these plants came from and they are listed as: "ARTEMISIA shmidtiana, Silver Mound, Wormwood" so spot on. – Ryan Jul 31 '15 at 15:45
  • Wow...love to hear my first impressions can be correct! Grin! Also a great plant for pots. (Try to find another mulch and get rid of the bark...one of my major peeves. Grin!!) Thanks for your input and please stay in touch! – stormy Jul 31 '15 at 20:56

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