Feverfew Plants, Answers You Need for Growing It

Hardy Biennial and Perennial; Aromatic, Ornamental, Culinary, and Medicinal

Feverfew Plants, known for centuries as a natural cure for migraine headaches, has a flower that closely resembles the daisy and is a member of the same family, Asteraceae or Compositae. This includes the sunflower family.  White petals with yellow centers, accent the green serrated leaves of this plant.  If left to its own devices, these gorgeous flowers can grow to a height of two feet to three feet tall. 

Feverfew is one of the herbs which:

  • Belongs to all 4 of the main herb categories: aromatic, ornamental, culinary, and medicinal
  • It attracts bees, butterflies, and birds 
  • It is a plant that adds beauty and value to the landscape
  • Good companion plant enhancing the growth of plants around it

Aromatic:

  • Attracts butterflies and honeybees (some gardeners will say that Feverfew repels bees. My Feverfew Plants are always full of honey bees as are the plants growing around it).
  • The flowers are great in potpourri
  • Its essential oils are used in perfumes
  • The leaves also help deter moths

Ornamental:

  • Double Blossom Variety is best for ornamental use in the landscape
  • Will provide year round color
  • Decorative Golden Feverfew adds a delightful splash of color
  • Use in dried flower arrangements

Culinary: (ingesting a large amount of fresh Feverfew can cause mouth ulcers)

  • Leaves are eaten fresh with honey or sautéed in oil as they are bitter and this helps prevent mouth ulcers
  • Blossoms, fresh or dried are added to salads

Medicinal: (do not take if on blood thinning medication, pregnant, or nursing)

  • Helps reduce the pain of  migraine headaches  
  • Lowers fever and dilates the blood vessels
  • Anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic
  • Aids in digestive stimulation
  • Relaxant

Versatile, Yes Growing Feverfew is definitely that!

  • Can be grown indoors if you keep it pruned back so it bushes out and not up
  • Can be grown outdoors
  • Can be grown using hydroponics
  • An be grown in containers

Cold Tolerant – Yes, Try Growing Feverfew Year Round

Feverfew is a hardy evergreen perennial and can with stand a temperature down to 5°F (-15oC).  If your weather is extreme it may need protection in the winter. 

Cultivation:

Feverfew will bloom almost all summer if you keep it deadheaded. It is one of the first plants to bloom in spring. If the winter is mild the plant will stay green. If you let the blossoms go to seed the plant will self-seed. Let the wind scatter the seeds and you will have feverfew everywhere, yes everywhere! This can be a deterrent for some gardeners as Feverfew will grow everywhere including places you may not want it.

It really isn’t a fussy plant at all. Feverfew grows in just about any type of soil. This makes it the perfect plant to place between stones or pavers on your walkways and paths. 

Feverfew plants spaced close together will block out and suppress weeds. This makes it suitable as a ground cover.

Soil and Light Requirements for Growing Feverfew:

  • Full sun will tolerate shade
  • They like poor to average soil; will thrive in rich soil
  • Do prefer well-drained soil
  • Tolerates drought without problems
  • Prefer a soil ph of 5.5 to 6.5

Propagating Feverfew:

This is done by seed, cuttings or dividing.

Feverfew Plants from Seeds:  

  • Start seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost
  • Seeds can be directly planted into the ground after the last killing frost
  • Harden starts off 12 to 14 days prior to setting out
  • Plant should be spaced every 18 inches apart

Cuttings are usually taken in the Summer:

  • Cut the shoot at an angle just below a leaf node. Use a sharp scissors and ensure the cutting is 4 to 5 inches long.  Remove the leaves from the very bottom of this cutting.  Dip it into a rooting powder and pot it in a light soil mix.  Water this well and keep protected over the winter.
  • The secret to getting the cuttings to grow a new root system is warmth. By keeping the soil warm the cuttings will produce a new root system quickly.

A good light soil mix for cuttings consists of:

  • 2 parts soil
  • 2 parts peat moss
  • 2 parts sand
  • Water

Mix together and use for your cuttings.

Dividing can be done in the spring through fall:

  • Using a sharp spade, divide the Feverfew Plant into three or five fairly large pieces.  
  •  Replant using a little fertilizer
  • Protect from the sun and wind for a few days

Older Plants can be Move to a New Location:

Transplanting older Feverfew plants is not a problem as long as you dig up a good portion of the root ball.  The roots are not that deep so it is easy to do.

Pruning:

This encourages new growth. Prune after the last hard frost in the spring. Remove any damaged areas.  Pinch back tips where you want it to bush out. Feverfew can be pruned again after it flowers as you are deadheading it. Pruning can be done at anytime if you want to keep it manicured.

Diseases, Pests, and Fertilizing:

Another benefit of Feverfew Plants is that they don’t have a problem with diseases or pests due to their pungent odor and bitter taste. 

The only pests I’ve encountered are slugs and spittlebugs. I place a ring of coffee grounds around the base of the plant, about 5 inches from the stem. The slugs won’t go over the coffee grounds as they penetrate the slug’s soft body.

Spittlebugs are easy to tell due to the foam they create when devouring the plant. They can be picked or washed off the plants.

Some gardeners report a problem with black fly attacking their Feverfew Plants. Sprinkling pepper on the plant works as a deterrent.

Feverfew doe not require a lot of fertilizer, just a small dose. The coffee grounds are also acidic and act as a slow release fertilizer. This is the only fertilizer my Feverfew plants get.

Harvesting:

Once your plant has had a chance to establish itself and has plenty of leaves on it, you can began using the. The leaves and flowers can be harvested anytime.  Gently snip the leaves or sprig off with a scissors.  The leaves can be used fresh, dried, or froze.

Before using any herbs for any condition, check with your physician to verify they won’t cause any drug interactions with medications you may be taking, adverse reactions to any medical conditions you may have and that you are not allergic to any of them.

The main attraction of Feverfew Plants is that they do not require a lot of attention and give you so much in return! 

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