Harvesting Feverfew Herbs: How To Harvest Feverfew Plants

Although not as well known as parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, feverfew has been harvested since the time of the ancient Greeks and Egyptians for a myriad of health complaints. The harvesting of feverfew herb seeds and leaves by these early societies was thought to cure everything from inflammation, migraines, insect bites, bronchial diseases and, of course, fevers. If one of these gardens is yours, read on to find out how and when to harvest feverfew leaves and seeds.

Feverfew Plant Harvesting

A member of the Asteraceae family along with its cousin’s sunflowers and dandelions, feverfew has dense clusters of daisy-like flowers. These blooms perch atop stalks over the bushy, dense foliage of the plant. Feverfew, native to southeastern Europe, has alternate yellowish-green, haired leaves that, when crushed, emit a bitter aroma. Established plants attain a height of between 9-24 inches (23 to 61 cm.).

Its Latin name Tanacetum parthenium is partially derived from the Greek “parthenium,” meaning “girl” and alluding to another of its uses – to soothe menstrual complaints. Feverfew has an almost ridiculous number of common names including:

  • ague plant
  • bachelor’s button
  • devil daisy
  • featherfew
  • featherfoil
  • feather fully
  • flirtwort
  • maid’s weed
  • midsummer daisy
  • matricarialn
  • Missouri snakeroot
  • nosebleed
  • prairie dock
  • rainfarn
  • vetter-voo
  • wild chamomile

When to Harvest Feverfew Leaves

Feverfew plant harvesting will take place in the plant’s second year when the flowers are in full bloom, around mid-July. Harvesting feverfew herbs when in full bloom will produce a higher yield than an earlier harvest. Take care not to take more than 1/3 of the plant when harvesting.

Of course, if you’re harvesting feverfew seeds, allow the plant to bloom completely and then gather the seeds.

How to Harvest Feverfew

Prior to cutting back feverfew, spray the plant down the evening before. Cut the stems, leaving 4 inches (10 cm.) so the plant can regrow for a second harvest later in the season. Remember, don’t cut more than 1/3 of the plant or it might die.

Lay the leaves flat out on a screen to dry and then store in an airtight container or tie feverfew in a bundle and allow to dry hanging upside down in a dark, ventilated and dry area. You can also dry feverfew in an oven at 140 degrees F. (40 C.).

If you are using feverfew fresh, it’s best to cut it as you need it. Feverfew is good for migraines and PMS symptoms. Supposedly, chewing a leaf at the first sign of symptoms will rapidly ease them.

A word of caution: feverfew tastes quite noxious. If you don’t have the stomach (taste buds) for it, you might try inserting it into a sandwich to mask the flavor. Also, don’t eat too many fresh leaves, as they cause blistering of the mouth. Feverfew loses some of its potency when dried.

How to Harvest and Dry Herbs for Storage

There are many ways to dry herbs so that you can enjoy them all year. Learn when to harvest and how to dry herbs to preserve their essential oils for the greatest flavor intensity and medicinal properties.

There is nothing better than the flavor and aroma of herbs harvested fresh from the garden. I really miss it when the garden season is over. While I do grow many herbs in containers over the winter to use in cooking, I also like having plenty of dried herbs on hand. Most of the flavors of fresh herbs will be lost in meals that are simmered or cooked for a long period of time.

The intense and concentrated flavor of dried herbs works better for meals that are cooked slowly such as soups, stews, and roasts. Instead of purchasing dry herbs and teas, I try to grow, harvest, and preserve my own.

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.

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.

How to Grow Feverfew | Guide to Growing Feverfew

Binomial Name: Chrysanthemum parthenium

Feverfew was first introduced to North America by European settlers in the 17th century, and has long been used to treat headaches and inflammation. Especially renowned as a treatment for migraines, Feverfew has also been used for menstrual problems such as cramping and irregularity. It can also be taken for problems such as joint pain and rheumatism.

Moderately rich, well-drained soil

Growing Guide
Feverfew often grows to a height of 24-36" and produces good quantities of cheerful yellow and white flowers from early summer through late fall.

Feverfew is hardy and can do well with a wide range of soil and light conditions.

Feverfew is best started in late summer or early fall. The small seeds are light dependant and should be lightly covered with a very thin layer of soil (approx ¼" deep), 3 or 4 seeds together.

If starting indoors in spring, small groupings of seeds should be covered with a very thin layer of soil and kept moist.

Transplant once first true leaves are developed. Give each plant around 8-12" of space once started and thin as needed. Feverfew will readily self-sow after going to seed.

Heirloom seeds are the gardeners choice for seed-saving from year-to-year. Learning to save seeds is easy and fun with these books. Before you harvest, consider which varieties you might want to save seeds from so that your harvesting practice includes plants chosen for seed saving. Be sure to check out our newest seed packs, available now from Heirloom Organics. The Super Food Garden is the most nutrient dense garden you can build and everything you need is right here in one pack. The Genesis Garden s a very popular Bible Garden collection. The Three Sisters Garden was the first example of companion planting in Native American culture. See all of our brand-new seed pack offerings in our store.

In Lieu of Aspirin

Though its name may suggest an ability to lower body temperature, feverfew is instead mainly relied upon medicinally to treat and prevent headaches. It has also been used to treat arthritis and digestive problems.

All parts of the plant that grow above ground may be used in medicines, but most commercial products use the leaves.

Numerous studies assessing the effectiveness of feverfew as headache treatment have been conducted, and a study from H.C. Diener et. al. found that incidents of migraine headaches were reduced in patients who ingested feverfew extract.

Scientists are still working to identify the substance in the plant that offers the beneficial effects.

How to Grow Feverfew

Last Updated: August 26, 2020 References

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Feverfew is an aromatic, flowering herb that can be used to brighten up your garden and even to treat medical conditions such as headaches. It is an easy-to-grow perennial plant, and is often mistaken for a weed because of how easily it spreads after taking hold. As long as you plant feverfew in well-draining soil, make sure it gets plenty of sun, and keep it watered, you will have a plentiful supply of the plant. Enjoy how it looks in your garden, or harvest it to make herbal remedies for what ails you!

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Feverfew is also known as featherfew, febrifuge, featherfoil, mid-summer daisy, wild chamomile, and false chamomile.

Suggested Feverfew Plant Uses

As a medicinal herb, Feverfew is an excellent addition to your herb garden.

Its good looks make it a nice addition to the landscape, as well.

It makes a nice border plant and does well naturalized in a meadow.

Remember to keep it away from plants needing the help of bees and other pollinators to prosper.

Mid-Summer Daisy is self-pollinating and does not need visits from pollinators, but its pollinator repellent properties could prove detrimental to its neighbors.


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