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Learn to Grow Feverfew

Written by Stephanie on April 13th, 2017

Feverfew (Chrysanthemum parthenium or Tanacetum parthenium) is a perennial herb that is from Asia Minor and Europe, including Great Britain.  It grows to about two feet high.  The leaves for this plant are dark green and are on fairly short stalks.  The flowers are on slightly taller stalks.  They are up to one inch across, with a yellow disk surrounded by white petals. The flowers bloom in the summer. Feverfew is also referred to as featherfew, feverfoil, and bachelor’s buttons.

Feverfew has been used as a medicinal herb for centuries.  The flowers are harvested in early summer, while the leaves can be harvested at any time.  The dried flowers and leaves were used to reduce fever.  They are also used in a tincture as an insect repellent.  Wine and tea can also be made from feverfew.  It was sold in the streets of London as a preventative for the plague.  Feverfew wasn’t, but its many uses make it a common plant in herb gardens.

Feverfew is a tender perennial and most individual plants die after two or three years.  However, if freely self seeds, so you will still have plenty of it around.  It is hardy in zones five to ten.  It can be invasive, so planting it in pots that you set in the garden can help keep it from spreading too much.

Feverfew likes to be in the sun.  However, if the climate is hot, afternoon shade is welcome.  Feverfew grows best in well drained, loamy soil.  If you do not have a spot like that, you can make your own by tilling the place you want to plant feverfew to a depth of six inches.  Cover the tilled soil with three inches of compost.  Till the area until the compost is well mixed in the soil.

Feverfew does not like dry soil, so keep the soil moist but not soggy.  Overwatering can lead to death.  After the first year, fertilize in early spring when the plant starts putting on vegetation.  Use any balanced fertilizer.

Harvesting the flowers when they are in full bloom will prolong the plants flowering stage and keep it from self seeding.  Dry the flowers for later use by hanging them in a warm, dry place until they are fully dry, then storing the crumbled flowers in a glass jar out of the sunlight.

After the flowers are finished, lightly prune the plants.  Cut long, leggy stems as well as anything that looks diseased.  You can cut the plant back by one third without hurting it.

In the winter, mulch over the plant to keep it warm.  When spring comes, remove the mulch until the vegetation has grown to six inches.  At that point, replacing the mulch with new mulch will help your plant stay cool and hydrated.

Feverfew is usually propagated by seed.  In the spring, after all danger of frost has passed, plant feverfew by sowing seed in the bed you want them to grow in.  Do not cover the seeds as they need light to germinate.  In about fourteen days, the seeds will germinate.  When the plants are three to five inches tall, thin the plants to one every fifteen inches.  They should bloom the same year they are planted.


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