Sneezewort Guide: How To Plant, Grow, Care For Sneezewort Flowers (Benefits)

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Gardening | March 1, 2024

Woman looking at sneezewort in a field after learning how to grow and identify sneezewort flowers, the benefits of insect repellent plants, and growing tips and planting guide steps.

Although the name Sneezewort flower doesn’t sound too appealing, especially for people with seasonal allergies, you may be surprised to learn that this lovely flower has some unique benefits.

The Sneezewort or Achillea ptarmica aka “Peter Cottontail”,1 is a beautiful perennial wildflower that thrives in damp, grassy areas. This plant produces small white flowerheads from mid-summer to early fall and attracts many bees and butterflies.

The Sneezewort is a sturdy plant, that’s a durable, low maintenance plant that’s easy to care for, and thrives under basic conditions.

This guide outlines all the interesting characteristics of the plant, and explains how to plant sneezewort in your own garden.

Common Uses for Sneezewort

Interested in some more Sneezewort facts? Achillea ptarmica has had many symbolic and medicinal uses over the years.

When it comes to Sneezewort symbolism, the plant was thought to have significant healing powers in Celtic mythology. Some cultures even used it to make love potions.

Graphics showing the common uses for Sneezewort (Achillea ptarmica) which include, treating infections and toothache, using as an herb and garnish on food, and using it as an insect repellant.

Its leaves have a peppery taste that can cause a tingling effect in the mouth, so the plant was commonly used to resolve oral pain. Today, some people chew fresh Sneezeworth to treat toothaches.3

Some cultures took dried, powered Sneezewort leaves and used them to create “sneezing powder”, a substance that was thought to induce sneezing. Some studies suggest parts of Sneezewort flowers could be used to treat some infections.4

The plant has also been used in cooking as an herb and a garnish.

Not to mention it’s made an excellent natural insect repellent.

Because Sneezewort produces the natural compound, linalool, that keeps away mosquitoes and flies, people used to crush up the plant and rub it onto the skin to keep bugs away.

Sneezewort Basics

Because it has a long growing season, it makes for a perfect addition to your home garden or backyard garden and many use it as a border or edging plant.

Its flowers add a beautiful aesthetic to any property. It’s one of the most beautiful types of white flowers, and it looks great when planted next to Sheep’s Sorrel, or any blue flowers or purple flowers.

The Sneezewort is close cousins with the Yarrow, and it’s native to Britain, Ireland, Mainland Europe, and Western Asia.

In the United States, Zones 3 through 8 are the best hardy-growing zones for Sneezewort. Where to grow Sneezewort depends on the soil’s acid and moisture content.


(Achillea ptarmica)

Sneezewort image in an oval frame on green background.
  • Characteristics: A downy perennial wildflower with a strong scent with numerous ivory or cream pedals
  • Family: Asteraceae (Daisy Family)
  • Genus: Achillea
  • Leaf: Between 1 and 4 inches long; nearly smooth to sharply toothed at the margins
  • Seed: Sown in spring or autumn
  • Blossoms: Numerous flowers in flat-topped clusters. 7 to 15 white barrel-shaped petals per flower
  • Native Habitat: Damp, acid grasslands, marshes, and beside streams
  • Height: Up to 18 inches tall
  • Canopy: Dark green leaves with loose clusters of white flower heads
  • Type: Perennial
  • Native Growing Zone: Europe and Western Asia

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Ranking

Least Concern


Growing a Sneezewort From a Seed, Cutting, or Seedling

If you want to enjoy beautiful sprays of tiny white flowers throughout the summer, growing Sneezewort from a seed, cutting, or seedling can make a great addition to your garden.

Below are some planting tips for Sneezewort:

  • Seeds can be sown in the spring, but autumn is when to plant Sneezewort for the best yield because this season has the slight advantage of allowing the plant’s roots more time to develop before rapid top growth.
  • Sneezewort plants prefer damp, slightly acidic, well-drained soils and thrive near marshlands, water meadows, or along streams.
  • Try to avoid planting them in rich soil. You can use a soil testing kit to determine the acidity of your soil before planting.
  • About 10 days before you plant Sneezewort seeds, put down 2 to 4 inches of manure or compost at the planting location. You might also consider a thin layer of topsoil if the soil composition is weak.
  • Wondering how far apart to plant Sneezewort to ensure optimal growth? Beds should be about 18 inches deep and plants should be spaced 24” to 30” apart.

Sneezewort can be planted as a seedling, but because it’s a fast grower, it’s not necessary to start your seeds indoors. About three to five weeks is all it takes to grow Sneezewort from a seed.

Container-grown plants should be planted in deep holes with plenty of space in between. Before removing the plant from its container, you’ll need to water it thoroughly and loosen the root ball.

Then, carefully place the rootball in the hole and cover it with soil. Once a thick layer of soil is covering the entire rootball, water it thoroughly.

How To Care for This Perennial Flower

Wondering how to care for this perennial flower? Sneezewort plants are easy to grow, easy to care for, and great for beginners.

They are sturdy, drought-tolerant plants. So how much sunlight does Sneezewort need each day?

A minimum of 4 hours, but they also do well in full sun. They should be watered regularly and soil should remain moist, especially during the growing season.

A cluster of Sneezewort flowers with vibrant white petals blown by the wind against a backdrop of thin and green Sneezewort leaves.

(Image: Pmau6)

These plants will need about 1 inch of water per week in the spring, especially during the first year.

Sneezewort can be fertilized. During the spring, you can use a water-soluble, quick-release fertilizer.

Slow-release, temperature-controlled fertilizers can be used once during the growing season. Organic fertilizers may also be used.

Flowers will bloom in late summer, and once they’ve faded, you can cut this perennial back by half to prepare it for next season.

Sneezewort plants have excellent survival skills. Because of their pungent scent, they successfully repel deer, rabbits, and other animals.

However, like all perennials, Sneezewort plants are susceptible to certain fungal diseases like powdery mildew and black spots.

Sneezewort disease prevention starts by frequently monitoring the plant and pruning infected limbs as needed. You should also avoid overwatering.

How To Identify Sneezewort: Achillea ptarmica aka “Peter Cottontail” or “Pearl Yarrow”, “White Tansy”

Looking for more Sneezewort facts?

Sneezewort identification graphics showing Sneezewort seed, Sneezewort flower, and Sneezewort leaf images in circle frames on the left and a flowering Sneezewort on the right.

(Seed Image: AnRo00027)

Below are some details about its flowers, leaves, and seeds:

Sneezewort Flowers

You’ll recognize Sneezewort flowers by their white ivory pedals that resemble Baby’s Breath and also give the plant its nickname “Peter Cottontail”. They appear in July and August and come in flat, branching clusters and are about ½ to ⅔ of an inch across.

They typically have 7 to 15 pedals, and double flowers with 20+ rays are common too. Its flowers can be white, ivory, or cream-colored.

Sneezewort Leaves

Sneezewort leaves have a unique aesthetic. They’re finely divided, soft-green in color, and slightly resemble a fern.

They’re 1 to 4 inches and have a slightly hairy texture with toothed edges. Their stems are erect, branched, and hairy on the upper half and smooth on the bottom portion.2

Sneezewort Seeds

Sneezewort seeds should be sown in the spring or autumn and lightly covered with a light layer of compost. They can be either planted outside or started in seed trays.

Seedlings can be pricked out and grown on, for planting out later in the year.

This Cottontail Plant Plays an Important Role in the Local Ecosystem

Not only does Sneezewort look great, this cottontail plant plays an important role in the local ecosystem. They provide an excellent source of nectar and pollen for insects, so they’re sure to attract many different types of bees and types of butterflies to your home garden.

If you add this beautiful plant to your property, you can expect to find honey bees, bumble bees, and solitary bees all around. It’s also a host plant for caterpillars, hoverflies, and a multitude of butterfly species including the small white and the painted lady.

The Sneezewort plant and it’s flowers are a beautiful and beneficial addition to any garden.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sneezewort

What Are the Best Companion Plants For Growing Sneezewort?

When it comes to plants that thrive in similar conditions, Helenium (Sneezeweed), Anthemis tinctoria (Golden Marguerite), and Echinacea (Coneflower) are all great options. If you’re looking for some plants that look great next to Sneezewort, we recommend Meadow Vetchling or Sheep’s Sorrel.

What Are the Best Growing Conditions for Sneezewort?

Sneezewort does very well in most hard-growing zones across the US. The plant enjoys slightly acidic, damp soil and a minimum of 4 hours of sunlight per day.

What Are the Watering Needs for Sneezewort Plants?

The soil around your Sneezewort should be kept consistently damp throughout the year, but during the growing season, they need a minimum of 1 inch of water per week.

What Are Some Common Pests of the Sneezewort?

Other than aphids, there aren’t too many as these plants don’t have serious issues with pests. Sneezewort produces a compound called linalool, which repels a wide range of insects.

What Is the Ideal Sneezewort Growing Zone?

Sneezewort is hardy in zones 3–8, which covers most of the United States.

What Is Sneezewort Growth Rate?

Sneezewort plants are fast growers and they can reach up to 18 inches tall and 24 inches wide.

What Is the Best Natural Pest Control for Sneezewort?

Sneezewort produces its own pest control called linalool. This substance keeps away mosquitoes, flies, and harmful pests, but doesn’t deter bees or butterflies.

Any Ideas About How To Stop Sneezewort Disease From Spreading?

First, make sure you’re not overwatering. Second, if you spot signs of disease (stunted growth, discolored flowers, black spots), you should quickly prune the diseased sections of the plant to help stop it from spreading.


1Michigan State University. (2023). Sneezeweed (Achillea ptarmica). Learn | MISIN. Retrieved December 27, 2023, from <>

2Klein, H. (2011, February 7). sneezewort | Achillea ptarmica L. UAA | Alaska Center for Conservation Science. Retrieved December 27, 2023, from <>

3U.S. Department of the Interior. (2016, October 13). Herb Garden Continued. National Park Services. Retrieved December 27, 2023, from <>

4Althaus, J. B., Kaiser, M., Brun, R., & Schmidt, T. J. (2014, May 20). Antiprotozoal Activity of Achillea ptarmica (Asteraceae) and Its Main Alkamide Constituents. Molecules, 19(5), 6428-6438. <>

5Species Information Image: Achillea 4 Photo by Neelix. (2009, May 9) / Public domain. Cropped and added text, shape, and background elements. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved January 30, 2024, from <>

6Achillea ptarmica, Sélestat – img 40171 Photo by Pmau. (2015, October 12) / CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED | Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International. Resized. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved December 27, 2023, from <,_Sélestat_-_img_40171.jpg>

720190313 Achillea millefolium 1 Photo by AnRo0002. (2019, March 14) / CC0 1.0 DEED | CC0 1.0 Universal. Cropped and added image, text, shape, and background elements. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved December 22, 2023, from <>