Sunday, June 12, 2016

Plant Portrait - Chrysanthemum argenteum

This plant has nothing to do with what we think of as chrysanthemum.  It is rather one of those plants whose great virtue is to go unnoticed most of the time. You don't see it, but you do not miss all its neighbours, which are made more prominent by the supporting role  this unassuming foliage plant provides.

You will notice that it looks a fair bit like the ubiquitous "Dusty Miller" (Senecio cineraria). Both are grown for their foliage, their insignificant blooms being ignored or removed. However, contrary to Dusty Miller, the main advantage of Chrysanthemum argenteum, is that it is perennial!

Tanacetum argenteum through Allium karataviense
Chrysanthemum argenteum through Allium karataviense

I get the impression that this plant is not as well known as it deserves to be, given the conflicting information available and the fact that  the various photos provided on the Internet do not always show the same plant.

I first knew it as a tansy, "Tanacetum argenteum", but I read it should rather be called "Chrysanthemum argenteum". 

It grows to 20 to 30 cm and is very hardy. I got the original plant from my mother who has been growing it for years in a zone 4 garden.

A few years ago, she moved house and lost it. I sent her cuttings in a sandwich bag in an envelope which was in the mail system for a week. The cuttings arrived in great shape and grew without problem. That tells you how easy that plant is.

It is a most accommodating plant. At the end of winter, it emerges from under the snow with a small clump of leaves at the end of each leggy stems.

Chrysanthemum argenteum at the end of winter

You trim off all these stems, and the plant rejuvenates from the centre.

If you need more plants, take the numerous stems you have cut off and stick them in sandy soil or simply in a glass of water. Each stem will root in a matter of days and you can have as many new plants as you need.

Propagating it being so easy, it could also be used for ribbon planting along the edge of a bed.

Tanacetum argenteum

Like Dusty Miller, it is very useful in containers.

Here is a close-up of the same container where it grows with a petunia, Ray Sunflower.

In the autumn, when you empty the pot, you can save the chrysanthemums and  heel them in the ground to use again in pots next year.

I do not bother as it is so easy to propagate by cuttings from the plants I have growing in beds. 

In a word, Chrysanthemum argenteum is a great perennial "Dusty Miller".


  1. I've never seen this one before... thanks, and wish me luck in finding it!
    It looks especially nice in the container.

    1. Hi Frank,
      See Sarah's comment below. She saw two places where you can get it online. Perhaps one of them is the US.

  2. This is a new one for me too. What I know as a tansy has yellow flowers and grows wild. Chrysahthemum is an unusual name for it as you say it is nothing like you would expect for a plant with that name.

    1. It does have yellow flowers just like the regular tansy but they are unnoticeable. Sarah below found it under the tansy name in the RHS Plantfinder.

  3. I've just had to look this newbie to me up in the RHS Plantfinder. There is one nursery listed there for it (and two online). The RHS call it Tanacetum, so you were right in the first place. Whatever it's called, I'm very pleased that you have introduced me to it. Thank you!

    1. I am surprised that it is not a common garden plant as few plants are so accommodating. It does not spread, it is very hardy and you can root dozen of cuttings in a few days. Even the trimming in spring, the only care required, could be skipped (the plants would get leggy).

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  4. Hi, Alain!I've not known about this variety of chrysanthemum but I thought it's Tanacetum, it's wonderful that it's easy growing. I should find Chrysanthemum argenteum here.

  5. Great combination with the Allium Alain. I have grown what I know as Tanacetum argenteum and found it a reliable plant for where you want to have some silver foliage, the only proviso being it seems to do best in full sun on fairly poor soil.

  6. Very interesting plant. Maybe if they just called Perennial Dusty Miller it would catch on.

  7. This does sound like a tough plant. I really love those alliums it's featured with. I've never seen either plant around here.


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