Plant Reviews

‘Isla Gold’ Tansy

'Dark Towers' Penstemon with 'Isla Gold' Tansy
The ferny yellow new foliage of ‘Isla Gold ‘Tansy contrasted with ‘African Sunset’ Sedum.

I’m a bit of a lazy gardener.  I think I sometimes prefer the IDEA of gardening over the actual ACT of gardening!  Of course, I rationalize it by saying that I need to understand how the plant will perform WITHOUT exacting maintenance as they are unlikely to receive it in most garden situations.  I always like to plant things that will thrive under realistic, rather than idealistic, conditions.

However, sometimes you simply HAVE to step in to keep things looking good and some plants are worth a little extra attention.  One such plant is a staple in my garden- Golden Tansy (Tanecetum vulgare ‘Isla Gold’).

This form of Golden Tansy emerges a bright, vivid yellow color in the spring and will fade out to a more chartruse color as the season progresses.  The ferny, bright foliage is the reason I grow it- I’m not fond of the tiny yellow button flowers that look for all the world like a denuded daisy!  In a perfect world, I wouldn’t let it get to the flowering stage because I’d cut back the flower stalks as they form.  but nothing is perfect in my garden!

‘Dark Towers’ Penstemon with ‘Isla Gold’ Tansy

If you allow it to grow unimpeded, it will reach a scraggly height of 4 feet tall and look a little like a vagrant in the process.  The key to enjoying this plant all season is to cut off the bloom stalks, either before or after bloom, which allows the plant to regenerate bright new foliage.

Two 'Isla Gold' Tansy Plants

You can see from the above photo the difference between a Tansy I cut back and one I didn’t.  The bottom one, in flower, was not cut back and the foliage has become more of a thin lime green- a shadow of it’s early spring self.  The the upper plant was cut back after blooming and sent a up flush of fresh foliage which looked good the rest of the season. Which would YOU rather have in your yard? Yeah, I thought so! 

Cutting off spent blooms once per season is still pretty minimal maintenance and a price well worth paying for a plant that GLOWS vivid yellow- even in full-sun!  In fact, you’ll want this guy in full-size as even part-shade dulls it’s wonderful color.

While it’s sister, Tanacetum aureum can reseed and be a bit of a pain, I have not had this problem at all with ‘Isla Gold’- in fact I wish it WOULD reseed a little so I can continue to enjoy it without buying more plants! As an added bonus, it’s a waterwise (but not xeric) landscape perennial.

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  • Jen
    February 5, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    Very interesting. I couldn’t see the picture you said you had posted, but I could see it in my brain ;0). I often think the same about sunflowers…when they get really tall, they get scraggly and I want to cut them back so they can start blooming again in a more controlled setting. My family will let you know I am all about “control”. LOL.

    • admin
      February 5, 2011 at 9:13 pm

      You were too quick! I keep thinking no one is reading this blog YET so I published the post before I found the photos!

  • buzzwad
    July 14, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    To me they they are the perfect aggressive plant. I t will spread with rhizomes, so do not buy anymore. Just water more where you want it to spread!

    • Cynthia
      July 22, 2012 at 8:21 am

      That’s good to know. I have had reseeding from the regular “Golden Tansy” but I haven’t experienced the same issue with the ‘Isla Gold’ variety. However, I keep my ‘Isla Gold’ in a waterwise border which means they receive less water than may be the standard for most gardeners. Perhaps it is this leaner situation which has them doing so well for me?