In late summer, the tops of my tansy plants are covered with small yellow flowers that last for weeks and weeks. The flowers look like a daisy might if you pulled off all the white petals and just saved the centers.
Here’s tansy with purple perilla:
Nothing seems to bother tansy – no deer, no aphids, no Japanese beetles. In fact, tansy was known as a “strewing herb” as far back as the 16th century because of the way it repels flies, ants and other insects. Pioneers and early settlers planted tansy near their homes to keep bugs away.
If you brush your hand against the lacy, fernlike foliage, it even smells a bit like bug spray. You can see the foliage in the background here:
Known botanically as Tanacetum vulgare, tansy is sometimes nicknamed “buttons” because of the appearance of the flowers.
A hardy perennial, tansy grows to a height of 4 to 5 feet and sometimes needs staking. In spring, you can take cuttings and root them for new plants. But you probably won’t need to – tansy spreads about a garden bed fairly easily and may need to be pulled up in spots.
Like most herbs, tansy prefers full sun. But I have a patch growing in partial shade and the plants seem quite happy. They are not at all fussy about types of soil.
On the down side, tansy is tall and floppy and really should be staked (I hate staking). I try to plant it among other tall stuff that will keep it upright, and I just moved some to a spot just below our new deck and have it sort of leaning against the railing. It looks happy for now.