Feverfew
Botanical Name: Chrysanthemum parthenium syn. Tanecetum parthenium

Feverfew is a short-lived perennial which reseeds easily. It grows to about 60cm and has yellow green lobed leaves which have a strong aroma. The flowers are borne in clusters at the branch tips and are daisy like flowers with yellow centers and white ray florets.

The main use of feverfew is as a treatment for migraines. Clinical trials have shown that taking 2 leaves of feverfew per day reduces the number of migraine attacks.

It is a bitter herb with a pungent odor. It is also used for rheumatic and arthritic complaints, fevers and menstrual problems.

Externally it has been used for skin conditions, insect bites and bruising.

Feverfew should not be taken during pregnancy. In about 5% of people the fresh leaves cause mouth ulcer, in this case a capsule or tablet could be used.

Feverfew makes an attractive garden plant with its fern like foliage and long flowering season.

Growing Conditions

It will grow in full sun to part shade and will handle dry conditions. Feverfew grows best in well drained soils but will grow in a wide range of soils. Feverfew is a short lived perennial but there are always plenty of seedlings to replace the original planting perfect for a cottage garden look.

Matricaria (Feverfew) – Key Growing Information

DAYS TO GERMINATION: 10-14 days at 70°F (21°C)
SOWING: Transplant (recommended) – Sow 5-7 weeks before transplanting in either spring or fall. Gently press the seeds into growing medium, but do not cover as light aids germination. Bottom water or mist to avoid covering the seed with displaced soil. Transplant to cell packs or 3-4″ pots 2-4 weeks after sowing. Harden off before transplanting. Feverfew is a tender, or short-lived, perennial in zones 5-9. Fall Planting: To achieve longer stems and earlier blooms, we recommend fall planting (outdoors or in high tunnels). By overwintering young plants inside a high tunnel for spring harvest, you can attain very tall (up to 48″) and abundant stems. Transplant 3-4 weeks before first frost. Spring Planting: For optimal stem and flower quality, treat spring-planted feverfew as an annual. Transplanting inside high tunnels very early in the spring will yield long stems and abundant blooms. Row covers can also be used to protect early plantings during cold spells. Transplant into high tunnels once indoor temperatures are above freezing. Direct seed – As soon as soil can be worked. Gently press the seeds into the soil, but do not cover as light aids germination. Keep soil surface moist until germination. Thin when seedlings have the first true leaves.
LIGHT PREFERENCE: Sun. Feverfew is a long-day plant, meaning flowering is generally initiated during the longest days of the season. Plants will eventually bloom under short-day conditions but on shorter stems.
PLANT HEIGHT: 28-36″.
PLANT SPACING: 8-12″.
HARDINESS ZONES: Zones 5-9. Treat spring-planted feverfew as an annual for the best plant habit and flower production.
HARVEST: Fresh: When flower cluster is 3/4 open. Dried: harvest when flower cluster is almost fully open.
SOIL REQUIREMENTS: Light, well-drained, moist, fertile soil. 6.0-7.2 pH preferred.
USES: Excellent cut and dried flower. Beds, borders, and containers.
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Tanacetum parthenium

Everything You Need to Know About Feverfew

**Feverfew (Tanecetum parthenium) is my favorite medicinal herb for headaches (here’s my top 15 herbs for headaches). Not only do I grow Feverfew for medicinal purposes, it is a stunningly beautiful perennial with little white daisy-type flowers and lovely green leaves.

**Feverfew is super easy to grow in your flower garden or herb garden. It can be grown in containers and remains evergreen in the winter and is quite frost hardy.

**I’m going to try my hardest to persuade you to use Feverfew in your household and I also want to persuade you to grow your own Feverfew too.

Medicinal Uses of Feverfew:

**Feverfew is a fantastic medicinal tool for your home. Here is a list of medicinal uses of Feverfew:

Feverfew is an excellent and famous remedy for migraines and headaches.

  • It is believed that if you eat some Feverfew leaves everyday, you can reduce your chance of getting migraines. However, the leaves can produce canker sores, so some people will eat 3-5 Feverfew leaves between buttered bread daily to get the benefits of feverfew without the canker sores.
  • Instead of eating the leaves, you can also make an herbal tea for relieving your headache/migraine. Here are a few great headache tea combinations. Here is a list of 15 herbs for headaches, so you can make your own herbal tea combination.
  • My favorite way to use Feverfew for headaches/migraines is in tincture-form. Tinctures are fairly easy to make. Check out how I made my Hawthorn tincture and simply use Feverfew leaves instead of Hawthorns in the tincture recipe.

Feverfew can bring relief from arthritis and/or joint pain.

  • Feverfew has similar medicinal abilities like aspirin, and its’ anti-inflammatory properties can help ease the pain of sore muscles, joint pain, and/or arthritis. One of the best ways to use Feverfew for joints and muscles is in a homemade herbal salve in combination with other inflammation herbs. Click here to learn more about how to make a salve. Here’s a great list of other herbs that might help with joint pain.

Feverfew can be used for stress reduction and to get a restful sleep.

  • Consider making an herbal tea with Feverfew and Borage to combat stress, or add Feverfew to this Nervous Insomnia Herbal Tea recipe.

How to Grow Feverfew:

**When using Feverfew as a medicinal herb, you use the leaves, either fresh or dried, for your herbal tea, tinctures, salves, etc. It is best to use the fresh leaves whenever possible, because it loses some medicinal benefits when the leaves are dried.

**You can dry the Feverfew flowers and add them to a DIY potpourri for some color.

Position:

**Feverfew does best in full sun.

**Make sure you give your Feverfew plant good soil with great drainage and regular watering.

Propagation:

**You can propagate Feverfew by seed quite easily. You can do cold stratification 1 week before sowing for best results, however, I have never had a problem growing Feverfew from seeds that I start indoors in peat pots (like these).

**Feverfew can also be propagated by cuttings and by root division.

**It also self-seeds regularly, so you can just let your Feverfew spread that way, too, as long as you aren’t too much of a planner person in your herb garden (yeah, I would go crazy if I let my Feverfew self-seed!).

Maintenance:

**If you planted your Feverfew in too much shade, you probably won’t see any flowers.

**If planted in full sun, after your Feverfew is finished flowering, make sure to cut back the tall flowering stalks.

**You might have some problems with aphids, so make sure to look for signs of aphid activity near your plant.

Harvesting:

**You can harvest Feverfew leaves at any time. Just make sure not to take too many leaves from one plant since that can stress your Feverfew plant.

So, how did I do? Are you going to grow Feverfew?

**If you are still not interested in growing feverfew, but you are interested in the medicinal benefits, you could always buy dried Feverfew or a Feverfew extract from a good-quality company like Mountain Rose Herbs. They have some amazing products!

**Consider learning more about Feverfew, other medicinal herbs, how to make tinctures/salves/etc., from Rosemary Gladstar in her book ‘Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health‘. This has to be my favorite book of all time!

**I am no doctor. Feverfew has some warnings attached dealing with pregnant women and those with bleeding disorders. Please read more about Feverfew from other sources, like the ones that I mention in my Reference section.

**I would love to know if you are growing Feverfew! Please feel free to comment in the comment section below about your herb garden. 🙂 Hearing about fellow herb gardens makes my heart happy!

My favorite flower is the daisy so it is no surprise that I love feverfew with its daisy-like flowers. Feverfew isn’t fussy about soil and though it prefers a sunny spot, it will tolerate a little shade. Add to that the fact that it reseeds readily in the garden providing me with new plants every year and you have the perfect plant.

So where did this “perfect” plant come from? Feverfew is a perennial that is native to the Eurasian part of the Mediterranean. It spread throughout the entire Mediterranean area as well as Europe. Then European colonists introduced it to North America where it is hardy through zone 5.

Feverfew has been used as a medicinal plant since Roman times. It’s been used for everything from fevers to arthritis although modern science has proven that it has no real positive effects beyond the placebo effect.

Personally, I don’t know how anyone could stand taking feverfew medicinally. Taken internally, it causes nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and gas. Chewing on it can result in ulcers in the mouth. Just rubbing it on your skin causes contact dermatitis. Feverfew is a blood thinner so you shouldn’t use it if you are taking blood thinners nor should you use it if you are pregnant because it acts as an abortificant.

Feverfew does have its uses as an insect repellent. Its leaves have a strong, bitter odor sometimes described as smelling like citrus. Insects, especially bees, find it distasteful and stay away from it. I usually recommend customers plant feverfew near their outdoor living areas but not in their vegetable gardens where it will keep bees, necessary for pollination, away. If you don’t have any gardens near your outdoor living areas, feverfew grows well in containers.

Feverfew can be grown from seeds, cuttings or by division. Divide your plants in the spring or fall. I prefer the fall so that my divisions have a headstart in the spring. Using a shovel, cut the crown into three or four divisions. Plant your divisions at least eighteen inches apart.

Cuttings should be taken in the summer. Make your cuttings 4 to 5 inches long. Strip the leaves from the bottom of the cuttings and dip them into rooting hormone then plant them in a soilless mix. Use a heat mat to keep your cuttings warm. Feverfew develops roots best in warm soil.

To grow feverfew from seed, start it indoors six to eight weeks before your last frost date. Sow your seeds on the surface of your soilless mix. Don’t cover them! The seeds need light to germinate. Germination is within 1 to 2 weeks. Harden off your seedlings and plant them eighteen inches apart in your sunny garden after your last frost date.

Feverfew isn’t fussy about soil. It grows best in rich loamy soil but it will tolerate poorer soils. What it won’t tolerate is wet feet. Make sure you plant it in a well-drained location. It prefers sun, but doesn’t mind a little shade. Mature plants reach a height of 18 to 24 inches and flower all summer provided you deadhead them regularly. It is precisely that habit of reseeding itself all over the garden that most gardeners hate about feverfew. The most common complaint is that once you plant feverfew, you can never get rid of it! That’s not true if you remove the flowers before they form seeds.

I love feverfew’s cheery flowers. Even its lacy foliage is attractive. The foliage should be cut down to the ground in the fall. When the leaves appear again in the spring, prune away any leftover dead foliage to maintain good plant health.

I don’t understand why so many gardeners dislike feverfew. It grows anywhere, in any soil, is easy to propagate and blooms all summer like an annual. It’s the perfect plant!

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