How can you control Mugwort?


I have a 500 sq. ft. area that has been left wild for the last 10 years. I recently had it fenced in to keep out the deer. It is mostly covered with golden rod, wild daisies, pussy toes, some sweet fern, grasses, etc., and unfortunately, in part of the area, I believe I have lots of mugwort (artemisia vulgaris). It seems to be able to survive under cardboard and wood chips, only to sneak out through any crack or crevice. I intend to leave a lot of the meadow plants and add some small trees and shrubs to hide the fencing some and add some seasonal color through flowering treed and foliage. I am hoping to create a wild meadow without mugwort taking over completely. Do you have any advice on how I can get rid of the mugwort? Can you confirm that it is mugwort? I have attached a photo. It’s still small (4″ tall) since it’s early in the season. It will grow to 2′-3′ tall in the summer and send up 4′ flower stalks.

Photo used with permission by the client.


Jonathan Foster, Special Project Assistant

This does indeed look to be mugwort, and I wish I had better news on your question. Mugwort can be extremely difficult to control and generally requires patience, dedication, and a multi-pronged approach to control. Please refer to the following links for advice:

West Virginia Univ Mugwort page

Univ of Maryland Mugwort page

As you can see, they recommend never tilling it under, as the severed rhizomes simply resprout. A combination of smothering the plant, physical removal, and non-specific herbicide application (which should be conducted very carefully and in accordance with package instructions, as you have many plants you want to keep) gives the best chance for success.

I wish I had more encouraging news!