FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Among the flowering plants you will find few that are as tough as yarrow. This trouper tolerates drought & commonly appears in inhospitable disturbed sites. Foliage, however, looks delicate and ferny. Bloom time is long and flowers attract beneficial insects and perfect landing pads for Butterflies and moths.
HABITAT & HARDINESS: The parent species, common yarrow is native to temperate regions of Eurasia and is naturalized in North America. It often crosses with Western yarrow (Achillea millefolium var. occidentalis). The two are almost identical and some references state that A. millefolium is really a complex of hybrids rather than a straight species.
This Sunflower Family relative occurs naturally in sunny meadow type habitats, in open woods and in disturbed sites. Common Yarrow is hardy in USDA Zones 3-8.
PLANT DESCRIPTION: Yarrow is a spreading warm season perennial with upright flower stalks. Normally height is 2′ to 3′ and suggested spacing is 1′-2′. Growth habit and height can differ due to variability within the species.
Yarrow foliage is finely divided and bright green with a fern-like appearance. The leaves are compound and are made of many tiny leaflets. The species name millefolium refers to the “thousand leaves” of yarrow. Foliage is aromatic and not palatable to most herbivores including deer.
White or pink flat topped flower clusters are held above the foliage. The flowers are compound corymbs that consist of 20 or more individual florets. Blooming begins in late spring and continues through the summer. Yarrow flowers are prized by floral designers for their long vase life. The blooms are attractive to beneficial insects including butterflies, bees and parasitic wasps.
CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDS: In garden situations, plants grow best in sunny exposure with well drained soil. Plants tolerate heavy clay and drought.
Yarrow is rhizomatous and can be aggressive in a good garden soil. The vigorous rhizomes can be useful if erosion control is needed. If spreading is excessive, though, maintenance may be needed to curb the growth.
LANDSCAPE USES: Common Yarrow is found most often in Meadows, Perennial Borders, Deer Resistant Plantings and Cottage Gardens. It is tough enough to naturalize on roadsides and help with erosion control on dry hills. It is a useful Cut Flower and Butterfly Nectar Plant.
COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS: This yarrow is at home with other meadow or prairie plants such as: butterfly milkweed, rudbeckia daisies, purple coneflower and native grasses.
If this species is not available other prairie or meadow plants can be substituted.
TRIVIA: Yarrow has an interesting history in herbal medicine. It is cited most often as a topical treatment for wounds, cuts and abrasions. The mythical Greek character Achilles was reported to have taken it on campaign with his army to treat battle injuries. Hence the genus name Achillea and the old school common names “staunchweed” and “soldier’s woundwort”.
Fresh leaves were used to stop nosebleeds. Dried yarrow stalks are still used to consult the I Ching. In the Middle Ages, yarrow was a substitute for snuff and a component in an herbal mixture that flavored beer. It has truly been an all purpose herb.
Yarrow has recently become popular as a groundcover plant in Permaculture “Food Forest” plantings. This is probably due to the ease of culture and the fact that flowers attract beneficial pollinators.
Achillea millefolium ‘Terracotta’
Terracotta Yarrow, Terracotta Common Yarrow
Color: Peachy yellow
Bloom Time: Summer
Achillea millefolium ‘Terracotta’ is a herbaceous perennial with peachy yellow flower heads when they first bloom, but gradually mature to a coppery bronze. Tiny flowers are densely packed in large, flat-topped, terminal flower clusters up to 4 inches (10 cm) across. Green leaves are deeply-cut, fern-like and aromatic when crushed. Long summer bloom period may be prolonged by prompt removal of faded flower heads.
Photo via baumschule-horstmann.de
USDA hardiness zone 3a to 8b: from −40 °F (−40 °C) to 20 °F (−6.7 °C).
How to Grow and Care
It is most often propagated by division, so chances are you’ll buy your Yarrow as a plant. Space your plants 12 to 24 inches (30 to 60 cm) apart if you’re planting more than one plant.
You can also start your Yarrow from seed. Start seeds indoors about six to eight weeks before your last frost date. Sow the seeds in moist, normal potting soil. The seeds should just barely be covered by the potting soil. Place the pot with the seeds in a sunny and warm location.
The seeds should germinate in 14 to 21 days, depending on the conditions. You can speed up the germination by covering the top of the pot with plastic wrap to keep in moisture and heat. Remove the plastic wrap once the seeds have sprouted.
Regardless of whether your plants are grown from seed or bought as full plants, you will want to plant them in full sun. They thrive in a wide variety of soils but do best in well drained soil. Yarrows will even grow in very poor dry soils with low fertility soil… – See more at: How to Grow and Care for Yarrow
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