Costmary Tanacetum balsamita

👤 Non-toxic to humans
🐾 Non-toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Edible
‍🌱 Easy-care


The plant in question, known commonly as costmary or balsam herb, is an aromatic perennial that features a rich array of sensory and visual characteristics. It has a herbaceous quality, with foliage that is green and sometimes has a slightly grayish tint due to the fine hairs on the leaves, which may give them a more muted appearance. The leaves are quite distinctive, elongated, and oblong-shaped, with edges that can be somewhat serrated looking, resembling the teeth of a saw very subtly. As for the plant's flowers, they are organized in clusters and have a button-like appearance. Typically, the flowers are small and may come in hues of yellow or subtle off-white tones that add a splash of light color to the greenery of the foliage. These flowers often have a daisy-like form, which is not surprising as the plant is related to the daisy family. The overall structure of the plant is upright, with stems that are sturdy and straight, supporting the clusters of flowers above the foliage like small cheerful bursts atop a rich green backdrop. The sensory appeal of costmary is not limited to its visual aspects; it is also notable for its aromatic leaves, which emit a pleasant fragrance often described as a mix of mint and balsam. This scent is more pronounced when the leaves are crushed or rubbed, and it is this fragrant property that has historically made the plant a favorite for both culinary and medicinal uses. While not delving into the specifics of the plant's dimensions, costmary possesses a bushy habit, creating a lush and full appearance in the garden. This growth habit gives it the versatility to be used for various purposes in landscaping, from being an attractive border plant to part of an herbal or fragrance garden. In summary, costmary presents a charming combination of attractive foliage, quaint flowers, and a pleasant aroma that can enhance any garden setting.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Costmary, Alecost, Balsam Herb, Bible Leaf, Balsamita, Mint Geranium

    • Common names

      Balsamita major, Balsamita suaveolens, Chrysanthemum balsamita, Chrysanthemum majus, Pyrethrum balsamita, Tanacetum majus, Tanacetum suaveolens

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Costmary (Tanacetum balsamita) is not widely recognized for being toxic to humans. While it has traditionally been used in herbal medicine and cooking, it's always prudent to use such herbs in moderation. If you suspect an allergy or any adverse reactions after ingesting Costmary, it is important to consult a healthcare provider. However, it's essential to note that ingestion of any plant in excess can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort or other adverse effects due to individual sensitivities or the presence of irritant compounds.

    • To pets

      Costmary (Tanacetum balsamita) is not commonly known to be toxic to pets. However, as with any plant not specifically intended for animal consumption, it is wise to prevent pets from ingesting it. Some pets may have sensitivities or allergies to plants that are otherwise safe for humans. Ingestion of non-food plants by pets can sometimes lead to gastrointestinal upset such as vomiting or diarrhea. If you suspect your pet has ingested Costmary and is showing signs of distress, it is advisable to contact your veterinarian.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      2 feet (0.6 meters)

    • Spread

      2 feet (0.6 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Culinary Use: Tanacetum balsamita, commonly known as costmary, is often used in cooking for its minty, slightly balsamic flavor, and can be added to various dishes, including salads and stews.
    • Fragrance: Costmary exudes a pleasant, balsamic fragrance which can be used to freshen the air in the home and is traditionally used in potpourri.
    • Ornamental Plant: With its attractive green foliage, Costmary serves as a decorative plant in gardens and adds aesthetic value to landscaping designs.
    • Insect Repellant: The plant is known to have a natural ability to repel certain insects, hence it can be planted in gardens to protect other plants.
    • Traditional Craft Uses: The leaves of Costmary were historically used in bookbinding to mark pages and release a sweet fragrance upon opening the book.
    • Companion Planting: It benefits the garden by improving the growth and health of certain other plants when used in companion planting strategies.
    • Low Maintenance: Costmary is considered to be a low-maintenance plant that doesn't require much care once established, making it suitable for beginner gardeners.
    • Drought Resistance: Once established, the plant has a good tolerance for drought conditions, making it ideal for xeriscaping and water-wise gardens.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    • Anti-inflammatory properties: Tanacetum balsamita may be used in traditional medicine for its potential anti-inflammatory effects.
    • Antiseptic characteristics: The plant might have been historically used for its antiseptic properties.
    • Carminative effects: The plant is sometimes used in herbal medicine to help relieve digestive issues such as gas and bloating.
    • Mild sedative: It has been used traditionally to aid in relaxation and for treating insomnia.
    • Emmenagogue action: The plant may have been used in traditional practices to stimulate menstrual flow.
    Please consult healthcare providers before considering the use of this plant for any medical purposes.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • As a strewing herb, costmary was scattered on floors to release a pleasant fragrance when walked upon and act as a natural air freshener.
    • The leaves were once used as bookmarks in Bibles, which is why costmary is sometimes referred to as "Bible leaf."
    • Costmary can be infused into natural insect repellent sprays due to its strong scent which is disliked by many insects.
    • It has been used in potpourris and sachets for adding a fresh, camphor-like aroma to linens and clothing.
    • Costmary leaves can be used in the preparation of certain liqueurs and bitters, providing a subtle background flavor.
    • Old recipes sometimes include costmary in sweet dishes and puddings, as a flavor enhancer.
    • The plant has been used in traditional fabric dyeing processes, creating a pale yellow or green tint.
    • Fresh or dried costmary leaves can add a decorative element and unique aroma when included in floral arrangements and wreaths.
    • It's used as a companion plant in vegetable gardens to help repel pests naturally due to its intense fragrance.
    • The leaves, when rubbed on wooden furniture, can help to clean and polish wood surfaces naturally.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The plant Costmary is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The plant Costmary is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Prosperity: Tanacetum balsamita, commonly known as costmary, has been associated with prosperity due to its lush, abundant growth and historical use in trade and bartering.
    • Longevity: Costmary has long-lasting leaves and a hardy nature, symbolizing durability and a life well-lived, often planted in gardens with the wish for a long life.
    • Remembrance: Its aromatic qualities make costmary a symbol of remembrance, as its distinctive scent helps to evoke memories and was traditionally used in "nosegays" to help one remember.
    • Healing: Historically used for its medicinal properties, costmary symbolizes healing and the soothing of wounds, both physical and emotional.
    • Friendship: Costmary’s traditional use in sweetening the air and flavoring drinks has made it a symbol of warm hospitality and friendship, to be shared between companions.

Every 1-2 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every 2-3 years
Spring-Early Summer
As needed
  • water dropWater

    Costmary (Tanacetum balsamita) prefers even moisture, so water it when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Typically, this means watering approximately once a week, but this can vary depending on climate and weather conditions. During hot spells or in very dry climates, Costmary might need water twice a week. Provide enough water to moisten the soil thoroughly, which usually means using about 1 gallon per watering for a medium-sized plant. Reduce watering in the winter when the plant's growth slows down.

  • sunLight

    Costmary thrives in full sun to partial shade. The ideal spot for this plant would be a location where it receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day, though it can tolerate some afternoon shade. Too little light may result in leggy plants with sparse foliage.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Costmary is quite hardy and can tolerate a temperature range from 30 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it prefers temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees for optimal growth. This plant can survive light frosts, but prolonged exposure to temperatures below freezing can be detrimental.

  • scissorsPruning

    Prune your Costmary to maintain its shape and encourage bushier growth. It should be pruned in early spring or after the flowering period ends in late summer. This is the optimal time to cut back leggy stems and remove any dead or damaged foliage. Regular pruning, done every year or every other year, can help to rejuvenate the plant.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Costmary, or Tanacetum balsamita, thrives in well-drained, loamy soil with a pH range of 6.0 to 7.5. A mixture of two parts garden soil, one part sand, and one part compost or aged manure creates an ideal growing medium.

  • plantRepotting

    Costmary should be re-potted or divided every 2-3 years to prevent overcrowding and to refresh the soil.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Costmary prefers average humidity levels and does not require any special humidity considerations for healthy growth.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Place Costmary in bright indirect light and well-draining soil.

    • Outdoor

      Plant Costmary in full sun to partial shade with well-draining soil.

    • Hardiness zone

      4-9 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Costmary (Tanacetum balsamita) begins its life cycle when a seed is sown into well-draining soil, usually in the spring after the last frost. The seeds germinate, and seedlings emerge, developing a set of true leaves and establishing a root system. As the plant matures, it forms a rosette of aromatic leaves and eventually sends up flower stalks in the summer, bearing small, yellow or cream-colored flowers which are often inconspicuous and prized more for their foliage. Following pollination, which is often facilitated by insects, the plant produces seeds that ripen on the plant. These seeds can be collected and stored or left to self-sow, completing the reproductive cycle. Costmary is a perennial herb, so after blooming, the plant will die back to the ground in winter, only to resprout from the roots in the following spring.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring-Early Summer

    • Costmary, also known as Tanacetum balsamita, is typically propagated through division, which is the most popular method for this plant. The best time to divide is either early spring before the plants start actively growing or in the autumn after the foliage has died back. To propagate by division, carefully dig up an established costmary plant, making sure to keep a good portion of the roots intact. The clump should then be separated into smaller sections, each with a share of the roots and several shoots. These sections can be replanted in well-draining soil, spaced about 12 inches (30 centimeters) apart, ensuring that the crown of the plant is level with the soil surface. Water the new divisions thoroughly, and they should establish and begin to grow, becoming mature plants in due course.