Sand Sage (Artemisia filifolia)

Sand Sage (Artemisia filifolia)
Sand Sage (Artemisia filifolia)

Sand Sage (Artemisia filifolia)

Sand sage (Artemisia filifolia) is an aromatic, evergreen shrub. It grows to a height between 3 to 4 feet, with a width of around 3 feet. This native perennial can be found throughout the Western Great Plains and Great Basin. In northwest Oklahoma, sand sage is a major species of the Sand Sage Grasslands. Sand sage thrives in full sun in well-drained, rocky, or sandy soils as well as deep sands and sand dunes and is often found growing in gullies and arroyos. It will also grow in good old garden soil and according to some gardeners, will tolerate clays; however, it will not tolerate heavy soils or shade. Despite a high tolerance to heat, sand sage is not recommended for use in hot desert conditions. Sand sage is a quick growing plant with low water requirements. It has a moderately fast growth rate and it does not hurt to cut it back periodically, especially if it becomes thin during particularly hard winters. Pruning in this fashion will help keep the plants growth thick. Sand sage is an excellent plant to use for wind erosion control, in re-vegetation projects and an obvious choice for xeriscaping. Growing in elevations ranging from 1000 to 8000 feet sand sage is cold hardy to around -30-degrees F. This makes it an attractive ornamental plant for high desert gardens. Like any ornamental grass, sand sage will add both movement and softness to a landscape project. You can grow sand sage as either an accent or a background shrub as deer rarely graze it. Sand sage has also been used as an herbal remedy for indigestion and a lotion for the treatment of boils and snakebites. The silvery blue branches or stems and the plants fine thread-like leaves derive their color from a covering of white hairs. The leaves may fall off during the fall and winter. Unlike the striking leaves and stems, the small, pale yellow flowers of sand sage are almost invisible. Sand sage blooms in the late summer. Crushing the plant releases the heady aroma usually associated with sagebrush. The seeds are extremely small and like the vast majority of ornamental grasses and wildflowers, should be planted no more than ¼” below the ground surface. Prior to planting, loosen the bed with a rake. Following this broadcast the seed and then lightly rake again to cover the seed. Sand sage can be germinated in a greenhouse setting from late winter through to early summer just ensure that the soil is well drained and that it does not dry out. The plants will germinate in a couple of weeks and the young plants can then be placed into pots as soon as they are strong enough. They should remain in the greenhouse during their first winter and planted during the late spring or early summer. Sand sage is a forage plant for a number of wildlife species, and if other forage plants are scarce by livestock. Additionally, it provides shelter and safe nesting areas for a number of upland game birds.

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