Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Insect Guardian Tansy For Garden And Home

Tansy In The Garden

Historically, the Monks in European Monasteries dating back to the medieval centuries knew to include Tansy within their herb gardens. Most of the gardens contained a vast array of fruit trees as well as vegetables. 

There was a great deal of diversity throughout the gardens, much of which was carefully planned with purpose. Today, I think we call that companion planting or integrated pest management.

If I am to learn anything about gardening or of self sufficiency for that matter, it would be to learn from these times in history. The people during these periods very lives and health depended upon that of which they grew and raised from the land.

Tansy was then and still is today considered a very important guardian for natural pest control throughout the garden and orchard. One of the main chemical properties that this herb contains is called Thujone. They say that wormwood also contains this chemical and acts as a serious repellent to most harmful insects.

Peach, Apricot, Apple and Pear trees benefit by having Tansy growing nearby. It repels the moths and other flying insects that lay eggs within the fruits. 

Tansy also deters most beetles from the garden vegetables such as the Colorado potato beetle and the cucumber beetles. It repels squash bugs and protects against carrot flies as well. 

Tansy will help protect your cole crops as well, such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflowers, by repelling the adult moths from laying their eggs of cabbage loopers and cutworms.

Sometimes we find that the benefits of combining different plants may stem easily by meeting just the right combinations of each grouping. When Tansy is planted in conjunction with Marigolds, Calendulas and Nasturtiums it is said to repel various harmful invertebrates. 

Tansy In The Home

Dried Tansy flowers and leaves can be placed near doorways and windowsills to prevent flies and wasps from coming indoors. Back during the middle ages they actually sprinkled the Tansy all around on the floors of their homes to repel fleas and rodents as well. I don't see what harm it would be to sprinkle a bit in closets or behind cabinets and chairs. 

It is said that housewives would hang dried Tansy from the rafters and tuck it in mattresses to protect from flies and lice and moths. The flowers stay perfect in shape and color, so today this could be added to baskets with other herbs and flowers as a potpourri. 

Even our earliest pioneers found it important to bring Tansy with them as they settled in America. The most important thing it was used for was rubbing it into meats for protecting it against flies and parasites. With no refrigeration is was of their best interests to do so. This gives me ideas for creating flower bouquets to place on the garden or picnic table. 

Today research has identified Tansy to kill and inhibit many types of fungi and bacteria's such as Escherichia coli (E. coli), Bacillus subtilis and Candida. This might give one the idea to add to homemade household cleaners.

And then there is the Tansy Fairy, for those who love a good garden fairytale. She is also known as the seamstress of the garden. It almost seems fitting as she mends so many problems.

Who sews buttons onto Green Elfin Jackets? Who darns Pixies' tiny socks? Who mends Fairies' fancy frocks? The Tansy Fairy is the seamstress of the fairy world. With a needle from a pine tree and a fine blade of grass for thread, she neatly stitches minuscule seams that only fairy eyes can see.

Happy Gardening!


  1. I have never thought to grow this, and yet it is so versatile. I have made a note for next year!

    1. Hi Tracey, you should enjoy it in your garden. I've really enjoyed reading so many things about how Tansy was used in England back in the day. It sounds as tho it was used in a lot of cooking and medicinally too. I guess they don't recommend that these days because of the Thujone being dangerous for the body.

  2. Very interesting and informative. I've never grown tansy but I'm adding it to my list of things that I need to add to my garden.

  3. You are one person I know will enjoy it Dorothy...even tho it repels so many insects the bees and the butterflies still love it..its amazing...its tall..almost 7 ft in my herb garden..I sow the seeds in fall..you know how that goes..xo