How to Grow Tansy

How to Grow Tansy

How to Grow Tansy


Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) is a perennial herbaceous flowering plant that has been grown for centuries for its ornamental qualities and medicinal benefits. Though considered a weed by some, tansy is relatively easy to cultivate if you understand its growing requirements and care. This guide will provide in-depth information to help you successfully grow tansy in your garden.

Choosing a Variety

There are several varieties of tansy to choose from:

Common Tansy

  • Grows 2-5 feet tall with fern-like leaves and round yellow button flowers
  • Hardy in USDA zones 3-9
  • Can spread aggressively via rhizomes

Gold Leaf Tansy

  • Compact 12-18 inch variety with bright golden foliage
  • Tolerates some shade
  • Less aggressive spreader

Variegated Tansy

  • Leaves edged in white
  • Grows 12-24 inches tall
  • Flowers not as prominent

I would recommend the compact Gold Leaf tansy variety for most home gardeners, as it is visually striking yet less invasive. The common tansy is best for larger spaces and those who want it for medicinal use. Variegated tansy adds nice color contrast to the garden.

Growing Conditions

Tansy thrives in the following conditions:

  • Full sun – At least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day
  • USDA zones 3-9 – Can tolerate cold winters and hot summers
  • Well-drained soil – Does poorly in wet, compacted soil
  • pH 6-7 – Prefers slightly acidic to neutral soil

Make sure to choose a spot that receives plenty of light and has soil that drains well. Tansy is prone to rot in heavy clay or constantly soggy soil. Amending with compost can improve drainage.

Planting Tansy

Tansy can be planted in spring or fall. Follow these tips for planting:

  • Start with transplants – Begin with nursery-grown plants or by dividing existing plants. Tansy grows best when started from divisions rather than seed.
  • Space 12-24 inches apart – Give each plant enough room to reach its mature spread.
  • Plant crown 2 inches deep – Set the crown right at soil level and fill in around it.
  • Water thoroughly – Water transplants daily for the first week until established.

Do not bury the crown too deep when planting, as this can cause rotting. Be sure to give tansy ample space in the garden since it can spread over time.

Care and Maintenance

Here is how to care for tansy once established:

  • Water – Water during drought to keep soil moderately moist. Allow soil to dry slightly between waterings.
  • Fertilize – Apply a balanced organic fertilizer at the start of spring growth.
  • Prune – Remove spent flowers and cut plants back to 6 inches after flowering to encourage new growth.
  • Weed – Mulch around plants to prevent weeds, which compete for nutrients.
  • Divide – Divide congested clumps every 2-3 years in spring or fall.

Regular pruning of flowers and foliage will keep tansy looking its best. Dividing the plants prevents overcrowding and encourages vigor. Make sure to discard unwanted divisions responsibly since tansy can be invasive.

Pest and Disease Control

Tansy is not significantly bothered by pests or disease if cared for properly:

  • Aphids – Hose off plants with water to control aphids if they appear.
  • Leaf spots – Improve air circulation and avoid wet foliage to prevent fungal disease.
  • Root rot – Ensure soil drainage to reduce risk of rot. Allow soil to dry between waterings.

The most common issues are fungal leaf spots and root rot due to overwatering. Maintaining tidy plants and adequate garden sanitation will also limit any pest problems that may occur.

Using Tansy

Here are some ways to use your homegrown tansy:

  • Add young leaves to salads and soups
  • Dry leaves and flowers for herbal teas
  • Make tansy oil extracts from the plant
  • Repel ants and flies by rubbing leaves on skin
  • Create yellow and green flower arrangements

While tansy has traditionally been used for medicinal purposes, consult your doctor before ingesting as it can be toxic in high doses. Focus on using your tansy for ornamental purposes in the garden.


With its lacy yellow blooms and aromatic foliage, tansy is a lovely addition to the herb and flower garden. Follow the growing recommendations in this guide to successfully raise healthy, vibrant tansy plants. Pay close attention to providing plenty of sun, well-drained soil, and occasional pruning and dividing. In no time, you’ll have lovely clumps of tansy to enjoy!