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Quick Plant Care Guide Grow Tansy Tanacetum Vulgare

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Quick Plant Care Guides. Plant care, simple and to the point.

Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)

Tansy, like comfrey, is a fast-growing perennial plant. It has fern-like foliage and adorable bright yellow button flowers.

The flowers are borne in clusters atop tall (mine are over five feet tall) tropical looking plants.

When managed, tansy is a beautiful plant. When allowed to grow leggy, it looks like a weed. Because it is.

Tansy is a weed. You have been warned. Tansy will eat your gardens worse than comfrey. It spreads by roots and by seeds.

Bazillions of teeny, tiny seeds.

If you do not want tansy to spread so quickly--cut it back BEFORE the blossoms set seed. Toss the cuttings in a bucket of compost tea and ferment to prevent them growing. Simple and effective.

All Hail Tansy the Terrible.

Tansy is still worth growing on a homestead, especially because of its weedy tendencies. Remember, we need a lot of biomass when we compost for our gardens (or feed our livestock and make bedding). Plants that grow quickly, do not mind being cut back a couple of times a year, naturally repel pests and disease; are worth their weight in gold.

Tansy is one of those plants.

Tansy Flowers Attract Wildlife

Yellow Tansy Flowers with Caterpillar

Yellow Tansy Flowers with Caterpillar

How to Grow Tansy


I prefer plants to seed.

  • Full sun is appreciated by tansy. In very dry areas of the country, a shade cloth suspended over new planting beds can help them get off to a good start.

  • Dig six to twelve inches, adding compost to the hole. Bury the roots and tamp the soil down firmly. Mulch and water well.
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  • Keep area free of weeds. When the plants take off and become bushy, they will shade out weeds and be drought resistant.


Sow after danger of spring frost has passed. Or, you can winter-sow the seeds.

  • Direct sow by sprinkling the seeds on tilled, tamped soil and water in. Surface sowing is recommended. Keep planting area watered well until plants establish themselves.

When their roots take hold and plants are growing strong, you can back off on watering.

  • I recommend mulching the plants to retain soil moisture.

You can also start tansy seeds indoors when you plant your other herb seeds.

  • Sprinkle the seeds on sterile soil in Dixie cups.
  • Keep the cups watered (like a wrung-out sponge) but not wet.

If they take, you should have a nice clump of tansy in each cup. After danger of frost has passed, plant them in clumps or separate them into individual plants.

Tansy Leaves are Beautiful

Nearly tropical looking tansy leaf.

Nearly tropical looking tansy leaf.

What Is Tansy Good For

  • A bit like comfrey, tansy can create a decent amount of biomass to add to your gardens. You can chop and drop tansy in the garden to use as a mulch. It may also be composted like any other plant. (careful not to spread unwanted seeds around)
  • I have used tansy successfully in my gardens to run Japanese beetles.
  • It also prevented cucumber beetles from attacking my cucumbers. All season long.
  • I use tansy as a companion plant, planted beside my cucumbers. That is all it took to keep the beetles away.
  • Tansy also keeps Japanese beetles off my grape vines.

Every year the beetles destroy my grape foliage. The first year I grew tansy, the beetles were few and far between. The second year, I have seen a total of two beetles near my grapes. Beetles are in other areas of my garden, far away from the tansy plants.

My tansy plants are a few yards away from my grape vines. So their effect covers quite a large area.

The tansy is the only thing that changed in my garden.

I will never be without tansy in my gardens now. It truly is a wonderful weed for repelling unwanted insects.

  • I have read that tansy attracts ladybugs. I haven't noticed this in my gardens. I have always had a healthy amount of ladybugs, so I really can't say if this is true.
  • Dried tansy plants can be placed in drawers and other areas where clothing and food is stored. It WILL help to repel insects. Do not mix tansy with food. Place the plant bits in a muslin bag and store it throughout your home and outbuildings that way.

Unruly Tansy Plants

When left to its own devices, tansy will grow into an unruly weed.

When left to its own devices, tansy will grow into an unruly weed.

What do you think about Tansy?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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