I picked up a plant of Southernwood (Artemisia abrotanum) at a Sunday market recently. This completes a trio of insect-repellent plants I can use to chop up and strew around the chook coop and run.
The other two I have are Tree Wormwood (Artemisia arborescens) and Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare). I’m still on the lookout for Common Wormwood (Artemisia absinthum), which apparently doesn’t grow as tall as Tree Wormwood and spreads by suckering.
I cut back my Tree Wormwood the other day and put it through the shredder. The chemical-camphor smell just about took my breath away. I spread a bucket of the mulched material inside the coop and around the nest. The smell was so powerful I wondered if they’d refuse to sleep in there that night, but they put themselves to bed without any fuss so it must have been OK (can chooks smell?).
As they sit on the nest enveloped in this hospital disinfectant-type stink, I hope that any insect nasties on their bodies will run screaming in horror.
I took cuttings of the Southernwood and they grew roots in 22 days. Wormwood is also easy to strike. I grew the Tansy from seed the first year, but so many seedlings came up from seed the next year, it was easier to dig them up and transplant them.
Southernwood cuttings after potting on. Pretty foliage:
Wormwood planted outside the chook run:
Tansy in the garden: