As you travel in the West and Midwest, you will notice gray-green shrubs growing wild. These sagebrush shrubs have silvery green leaves and a strong, camphor-like odor. They stay green all year and produce tiny yellow-gold flowers in the late summer. Common sagebrush, known as Artemisia filifolia, grows in high-elevation states, including Arizona, Colorado, areas in Texas and South Dakota. When you plant and grow your own sagebrush, you create landscaping that is almost effortless to care for, plus you help restore the natural habitat for a wide range of bird and other wildlife species.
Things You'll Need
- Cold frame (optional)
- Sagebrush seeds
- Small plant pots
- Pruning shears
Start sagebrush plants in a warm greenhouse or inexpensively in a mini-greenhouse like a cold frame using free-draining soil and compost. Free-draining soil allows water to flow out rather than pool in the soil. Allow the compost to stay moist. Cold frames are small rectangular or square boxes made of wood or metal with slanted covers to let more sunlight in for starting seeds.
Sprinkle sagebrush seeds lightly on the surface of the soil during the late winter or early summer. Sprinkle seeds lightly to prevent the plants from growing too closely together and rotting. Sagebrush seeds are tiny and will only germinate if you plant them on the soil's surface. The germination process takes from one to two weeks in a greenhouse.
Remove sagebrush seedlings and put them into separate, small pots. Allow the seedlings to grow in the greenhouse, until the late spring or early summer months, then transplant the seedlings outdoors.
Transplant the sagebrush seedlings in dry soil in a warm, sunny location. Sagebrush grows ideally in poor, dry soil. Over time, it becomes increasingly strong and fragrant. These plants grow 2 to 12 feet tall with leaves 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches in length. You do not need to water your sagebrush, but if you do, water them lightly.
Trim away dead branches that may appear during the winter, using pruning shears.
Tips & Warnings
- Choose locally adapted sagebrush seeds when purchasing. The seed information should list the preferred geographic area and elevation.
- Skin contact with the sagebrush can cause dermatitis in some people or other allergic reactions. An inflammation of the skin, dermatitis results in redness and itching.
- If the sagebrush seeds you purchase smell musty and old, return them -- the seeds probably came from an old crop.
- Pacific Northwest National Laboratory: What About Sagebrush?
- Blue Planet Biomes: Common Sagebrush
- New Mexico State University; Artemisia Filifolia; Luz Hernandez, Anderson Manybeads; Summer 2001
- Wind River Seed: Selecting Good Shrub Seed
- Danny Lipford: How to Make a Cold Frame to Grow Vegetables or Flowers
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images