Growing Guide
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Sweet Cicely

Herbaceous Perennial Flower, Herb

Also known as Garden Myrrh, , Sweet-Scented Myrrh, Fern-Leaved Chervil, Cow Chervil, Great Chervil, Holy Grass, Shepherd's Needle
Myrrhis odorata
Apiaceae Family

This tall, hardy perennial herb is perfect as a landscape specimen for a partly shady nook, or the delicate fern-like foliage can add textural contrast to border backgrounds. You can also use it for a foundation planting on the north side of a building.

Site Characteristics
  • full sun
  • part shade

Soil conditions:

  • requires damp soil
Prefers moist, well-drained soil. Tolerates pH from 4.5 to 7.4.

Hardiness zones:

  • 3 to 7
Plant Traits

Lifecycle: perennial

Ease-of-care: easy

Height: 3 to 6 feet

Spread: 2 to 5 feet

Bloom time:

  • late spring
  • early summer

Flower color: white

Foliage color: light green

Foliage texture: fine

Fern-like foliage is an attractive contrast to other border plants.


  • cushion, mound or clump
  • upright

Bushy, very slowly spreading plant that forms dense patches with time.

Shape in flower: same as above

Flat topped umbel-like clusters of bright white flowers rise above the foliage.

Special Considerations
Special characteristics:
  • aggressive - Self-seeds readily.
  • non-invasive
  • not native to North America - Native to Southern Europe.
  • fragrant - Whole plant is anise-scented.
  • beneficial insects
Special uses:
  • naturalistic garden - Fern-like texture makes a nice textural contrast in naturalistic areas.
Growing Information
How to plant:

Propagate by seed, division or separation - Readily self-seeds. Sow fresh seed because stored seed is difficult to germinate. Mix stored seed with peat moss in a plastic bag and place in a refrigerator. When the seeds begin to germinate, transplant into pots and return the bag to the refrigerator and wait for more seeds to germinate.

Divide in spring or fall. Remove the tapering tap root and cut the root into sections with at least one eye per section and replant in their permanent position.

Maintenance and care:
Remove flowers if you want to preserve leaf flavor.

More growing information: How to Grow Perennials