- What are the benefits of yarrow?
- How can the same herb have opposite actions?
- 8 Yarrow Uses And Benefits
- #1 – Yarrow Tea (Hot) Or Tincture For Fevers
- #2 – Yarrow For Digestive Support
- #3 – Yarrow For Headaches
- #4 – Yarrow Poultice, Compress, Or Salve For Wounds
- #5 – Cardiovascular Support
- #6 – Yarrow Tea (Cold) For Urinary Support
- #7 -Yarrow Tea For Postpartum And Menstrual Support
- #8 Yarrow For Skin And Hair
- How much yarrow should I use?
- How To Make Yarrow Tea
- How Make Yarrow Tincture
- How To Make Yarrow Salve
- How To Make A Yarrow Poultice Or Compress
- Growing Yarrow
- Yarrow Safety And Contraindications
- Is yarrow safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding?
- Got a question about yarrow?
- Yarrow Care – Growing Yarrow Herb In Your Garden
- How to Plant Yarrow
- How to Grow Yarrow
- Using Yarrow Herb
- Yarrows: Plant Care and Collection of Varieties
- Fern Leaf Yarrow Care
- How to Propagate Achillea Yarrow
- Achillea Pest or Disease Problems
- Suggested Uses For Achillea Filipendulina
- Growing Habits of Yarrow
- 5 Reasons to Grow Yarrow
- 1. Yarrow may accumulate nutrients.
- 2. It attracts beneficial insects and pollinators.
- 3. Yarrow makes a good ground cover.
- 4. It has medicinal uses.
- 5. Yarrow is edible and useful in crafts.
- How to Grow and Use Yarrow
- Medicinal Uses of Yarrow:
- How to Grow Yarrow:
- Do YOU grow and use Yarrow?
- Planting and Growing Yarrow
- How to grow: Achillea
- Yarrow WhiteBotanical Name: Achillea Millefolium
Yarrow is a flowering perennial, common in North America but also native to Europe and Asia. Its leaves are soft and highly segmented with a characteristic appearance that is almost feather-like. Yarrow grows stalks during the summer months, with a height that is dependent upon the seasonal rainfall. During dry years, these stalks may only grow a foot or two, preserving energy in its roots. Clusters of tiny white flowers grow atop the stalks, emitting a distinctive and characteristic aroma.
Yarrow received its Latin name Achillea from the legendary Greek hero Achilles. According to the common legend, Achilles’s mother dipped him into the river Styx by the ankle in an effort to make him invulnerable. Fighting many battles as a seemingly invincible warrior, Achilles used yarrow to treat the wounds of his fellow soldiers. He later died from a wound to his heel, as it was the one unprotected part of his anatomy.
Dried aerial portions.
Tea infusions, tinctures, and in baths.
Old Man’s Pepper. Soldier’s Herb. Knight’s Milfoil. Thousand Weed. Nose Bleed. <<– Yarrow has a colorful list of names, and an even richer and more colorful history of use in European, Native American, and Chinese medicine. The ancients called it Herbe Militaris – the Military Herb – because it was often used to staunch bleeding and support wound healing.
If you’re thinking that your battle wounds look more like homemade ketchup stains and you don’t usually need to staunch bleeding, keep reading. Yarrow is useful for so much more than just wound care – according to the revered Bavarian priest and herbalist Father Sebastian Kneipp, “Women could be spared many troubles if they just took yarrow tea from time to time!”(Treben)
In fact, when you ask an herbalist to choose their favorite herb out of all the hundreds and thousands of medicinal gifts available to them, it’s usually an impossible task. However, herbalist Rosalee de la Foret once said that yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is the one plant she would take with her if she was stranded on a deserted island! (HWR)
What are the benefits of yarrow?
Yarrow is one of several herbs that herbalists call “amphoteric”. This term is borrowed from chemistry, where it is used to describe a substance that can both increase and decrease the pH of a solution.
In herbalism, it is used to describe a plant with seemingly opposite actions. For example, yarrow is known both as a hemostatic (stops the flow of blood) and a diffusive (blood moving) herb. This bidirectional action on blood flow explains how it achieves the multitude of actions listed below.
How can the same herb have opposite actions?
If you are used to the “one extreme action” of pharmaceuticals, this “amphoterism” seems quite mysterious, and perhaps even implausible. However, if you consider that there are thousands of constituents in herbs, most unknown to us, it becomes a little easier to imagine that when we consume or use whole herbs, the body takes what it needs to accomplish what is required for healing. This in part explains the amphoteric nature of yarrow.
However, herbalist Sam Coffman offers another explanation. He posits that yarrow appears to support clotting in wound healing by the exact same mechanism with which it works on moving the blood in, say, varicose veins: by breaking up stagnation and supporting the movement of new blood cells to the area, thus speeding up the healing process. (Coffman)
So, while from our perspective yarrow may appear amphoteric (both clotting and moving blood simultaneously), at the cellular level it may be accomplishing both things with just one approach – to help break up stagnation and support the creation of new healthy cells (aka: angiogenesis), thus expediting the healing process.
8 Yarrow Uses And Benefits
There are so may ways yarrow can be used, it’s no wonder Rosalee wants this herb deserted with her on that island.
#1 – Yarrow Tea (Hot) Or Tincture For Fevers
“Fevers are our friend” is longstanding wisdom in the herbal tradition. Now, modern medicine is taking the same view.
“Fever is the body’s normal response to infection — it’s a natural defense mechanism,” Dr. Janice Sullivan, a professor of pediatric clinical care and clinical pharmacology at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, told The Washington Post.
She explains that a high temperature triggers the body’s production of infection-fighting white blood cells, which inhibits the growth of viruses and bacteria, and that “If you lower the fever, you may be affecting the body’s ability to respond to that infection.”
I’ve written before about how to treat a fever naturally by supporting the body, and also discussed guidelines from a pediatrician on when to go to the doctor. Yarrow is one of the remedies mentioned in that post, and for good reason:
This plant is a do-it-all for flu and fever! Yarrow is both an anti-inflammatory as well as being antimicrobial. It reduces pain, is an anti-catarrhal, relaxes circulation, and is a mild sedative, too.” – The Herbal Academy
You’ll find a recipe for yarrow tea below.
#2 – Yarrow For Digestive Support
The Cherokee, Gosiute, Iroquois, and Mohegan nations have traditionally used yarrow for digestive support, which makes since because bitter, aromatic herbs help digestion by stimulating the production of bile and pancreatic juices. (Kruidwis)
When used internally, yarrow’s bitterness increases digestion as well as the absorption of nutrients by the body. The astringent gifts of yarrow makes her very useful in stopping diarrhea. . . The bitter properties of yarrow invigorate the liver and help it release bile while the antispasmodic gifts (an agent that relieves spasms or cramps) help in relieving cramps arising out of tensions, wind, colic, or nervous digestion.” (Sobo)
Yarrow is most often taken as a tea or a tincture to support digestion and soothe stomach aches. I like to mix it with other bitter herbs – dandelion root and catnip for example – to make “tummy tea” when my kids need it.
#3 – Yarrow For Headaches
The anti-inflammatory properties of yarrow are thought to be helpful for dull, pounding headaches or migraines that seem to drag on.
Modern research has confirmed the historical use of yarrow to relieve pain caused by a broad range of conditions. Yarrow teas and tinctures contain salicylate-like derivatives such as stigmasterol and beta-sitosterol that reduce the inflammatory process, which may accelerate healing. These compounds stop the formation of enzymes necessary for a series of chemical reactions that cause inflammation and pain.
Yarrow also contains compound designated sesquiterpene lactones, which reduce the action of pain-provoking hormones, the prostaglandins.” (Balch)
#4 – Yarrow Poultice, Compress, Or Salve For Wounds
Scottish Highlanders still make an ointment from yarrow to apply to wounds, which makes sense given it’s pain-relieving and healing properties.
Containing anti-inflammatory and antiseptic oils, as well as astringent tannins and resins, yarrow possesses excellent wound healing gifts. and also contains silica, which will help in repairing damaged tissue.” (Sakellaridis)
The anti-oxidant and cytoprotective properties of yarrow leaves and flowers may also play a role in wound healing.
How To Use Yarrow For Wound Care
Wound Powder – Dried, powdered yarrow can be applied after wounds are cleaned. Dried yarrow can also be used to make wound healing salves.
Yarrow Tea – Can be used as a wash for cuts and scrapes. (Recipe later in this post)
Poultice or Compress – If you’re wondering about the difference, a poultice is made from the whole herb and a compress is made from an extract like a tea or tincture. You’ll find instructions for making both later in this post.
Infused Oil – Herbal constituents (aka beneficial components) can be extracted using many kinds of mediums: water, alcohol, oil and others. Water based extracts – like this Happy Adrenal Tea – are usually consumed internally, although occasionally they are used externally for issues like skin or eye irritation.
Oil extractions are most often used externally. Also known as infused oils, herbs extracted using oil can be made in a number of ways. I’ll link to a tutorial below on how to make them.
Important note: Infused oils are very different from essential oils. Infused oils use a carrier oil to extract components of the whole plant, while essential oils only extract the light aromatic compounds found in the plant.
Yarrow Salve – Also known as a healing balm, this preparation is a favorite with herbalists.
#5 – Cardiovascular Support
Because it’s an astringent, yarrow is often used to tone veins, which can be helpful for varicose veins and/or hemorrhoids. The blood moving (vasodilation), cytoprotectant and anti-oxidant properties of yarrow leaves and flowers also make it supportive of overall heart health.
#6 – Yarrow Tea (Cold) For Urinary Support
Yarrow is diuretic, and is therefore a wonderful “carrier” to include with urinary antimicrobial herbs for UTIs and other urinary issues to make sure those herbs get to the urinary system. More on natural remedies for UTI’s here.
#7 -Yarrow Tea For Postpartum And Menstrual Support
“Women could be spared many troubles if they just took yarrow tea from time to time!” – Bavarian priest and herbalist Father Sebastian Kneipp (Treben)
Yarrow tea is both blood moving (if you need to get things flowing) and astringent (which is why it’s a used in this healing postpartum bath sitz recipe). Yarrow has also been shown to reduce menstrual-related discomfort. (ULP)
#8 Yarrow For Skin And Hair
Yarrow leaf facial steams can be helpful for clogged pores and yarrow tea as a hair rinse for dry or itchy scalps. You can also drink some of the tea before your shower to achieve any of the therapeutic health benefits above, and even soak a cloth in the tea and lay it over your closed eyes for a headache; look at you multi-tasking!
How much yarrow should I use?
At this point, I know you are reaching for that yarrow! Herbalist Rosalee de la Foret recommends the following adult doses:
- Yarrow tea: 1tsp/8ounces of water steeped 30 minutes, up to 3-9g/day
- Fresh yarrow plant tincture of 1:2 ratio in 95% alcohol, 2-5mL/day
- Dry yarrow plant tincture of 1:5 ratio in 40% alcohol, 2-5mL/day
How To Make Yarrow Tea
Add 1 teaspoon of dried yarrow flower to one cup of boiling water. Cover and steep for 30 minutes, then strain and serve.
Note: I use this basket tea infuser because it comes with a cover for steeping and it makes straining super simple.
How Make Yarrow Tincture
You can buy yarrow tincture here, or you can make your own 1:5 tincture (as recommended above) using the method below.
Mix 1 ounce dried yarrow (by weight) with 5 ounces (by volume) of 80 proof or higher alcohol and allow it to infuse for six to eight weeks. Strain and store in a dark glass dropper bottle.
How To Make Yarrow Salve
Yarrow flowers can be infused in a carrier oil using the exact same process as this calendula infused oil tutorial. It can be directly applied to wounds or used as a base for a healing salve. To make a salve, use the same method as described in this calendula salve recipe.
How To Make A Yarrow Poultice Or Compress
The easiest way to make a poultice is to mix just enough hot water with ground yarrow to make a paste, then apply it to the area. If you have dried herb that is not ground, you’ll need to mash it up a little to make the paste . . . some people opt to do this by chewing it, and others use a mortar and pestle.
To make a compress, simply dip a cloth in strongly brewed tea or a tincture and apply to the area.
Yarrow grows everywhere the sun shines. It isn’t picky about soil or water, and is a great addition to your yard or balcony. If you can’t fit it in, yarrow is easily harvested from the wild – just make 100% sure you have the right plant and that the area is clean of toxins. You can use every part of the yarrow plant, but it is best to leave the root if possible.
Yarrow Safety And Contraindications
Yarrow is in the aster (ragweed) family, so use cautiously if you have a known allergy. Some people also have a skin allergy to the sesquiterpene lactones, so start with a little to make sure you don’t have any issues.
Is yarrow safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding?
Yarrow is a uterine stimulant and emmenagogue and should not be used internally during pregnancy. Yarrow has also not been proven safe for breastfeeding.
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This article was medically reviewed by Madiha Saeed, MD, a board certified family physician. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
Got a question about yarrow?
Please leave it in the comments below!
About the authors: This article was coauthored by Heather Dessinger and Dr. Lori Valentine Rose (PhD). Dr. Rose, PhD is a college biology, nutrition, herbal, and wellness instructor, Certified Nutrition Professional (CNP), Registered Herbalist with the American Herbalist Guild, and is Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition. She created, developed, and instructs the Hill College Holistic Wellness Pathway, the most thorough, affordable, degreed wellness program in the country. She loves spreading love and light, and helping others feel awesome on the inside and out so they can live their dreams and make this world more awesome!
Yarrow Care – Growing Yarrow Herb In Your Garden
The yarrow plant (Achillea millefolium) is an herbaceous flowering perennial. Whether you decide to grow yarrow in your flower beds or in your herb garden, it’s still a lovely addition to your yard. Yarrow care is so easy that the plant is virtually care-free. Let’s take a look at how to plant yarrow and also tips for how to grow yarrow.
How to Plant Yarrow
Yarrow is most often propagated by division, so chances are you’ll buy your yarrow as a plant. Space your plants 12 to 24 inches apart if you’re planting more than one yarrow plant.
You can also start your yarrow herb 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 yarrow 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 yarrow 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. Yarrow plant will even grow in very poor dry soils with low fertility soil.
Some caution should be taken when growing yarrow, as in the right conditions, it can become invasive and will then be in need of control.
How to Grow Yarrow
Once you have planted your yarrow, it needs little care. It doesn’t need to be fertilized and only needs to be watered during times of severe drought.
While yarrow needs little care, it is susceptible to a few diseases and pests. Most commonly, plants will be affected by either botrytis mold or powdery mildew. These will both appear as a white powdery covering on the leaves. Both can be treated with a fungicide. Yarrow plants are also occasionally affected by spittlebugs.
Using Yarrow Herb
Yarrow has many uses as an herb. It is commonly used as a medicinal herb that can treat the bleeding of minor wounds, swollen or cramping muscles, reducing fever or to help with relaxing. As with any medicinal herb, yarrow herb should not be taken without first consulting a physician.
On the non-medicinal side, yarrow herb is an astringent and makes a good facial wash or shampoo.
Whether you grow yarrow as a decorative plant or an herb, you can be sure that it will add beauty to your garden. Since yarrow care is so easy, you have nothing to lose by giving this ancient herb a small place in one of your flower beds.
Yarrows: Plant Care and Collection of Varieties
Yarrow is a hardy and versatile perennial with fernlike leaves and colorful blooms. The large, flat-topped flower clusters are perfect for cutting and drying.
Most yarrows grow 2 to 4 feet tall, although low-growing varieties are also available. The plants are remarkably durable, tolerating dry spells and low soil fertility where other perennials would fade. Yarrows bloom from late spring to early summer; some varieties continue blooming intermittently into fall. Flower colors include red, pink, salmon, yellow, and white. Yarrows are versatile and look equally at home in a perennial border, sunny rock garden, or wildflower meadow. Powdery mildew disease may be a problem in humid areas.
Special features of yarrows
Easy care/low maintenance
Good for cut flowers
Tolerates dry soil
Choosing a site to grow yarrows
Select a site with full sun and very well-drained soil. Yarrow thrives in hot, dry conditions and low soil fertility, but won’t tolerate wet soils.
Apply a 2-inch layer of mulch to retain moisture and control weeds. Water plants during the summer if rainfall is less than 1 inch per week. After the first killing frost, cut stems back to an inch or two above soil line. Divide plants every 3 to 4 years as new growth begins in the spring, lifting plants and dividing them into clumps.
Plant in spring, spacing plants 1 to 2 feet apart, depending on the variety. Prepare the garden bed by using a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches. . Dig a hole twice the diameter of the pot the plant is in. Carefully remove the plant from its container and place it in the hole so the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface. Carefully fill in around the root ball and firm the soil gently. Water thoroughly.
Achillea filipendulina also known as fern leaf yarrow is an Asian perennial plant belonging to the aster family (Asteraceae) along with the Joe Pye weed plant.
Now found in Europe, North America, and Canada, this herbaceous plant is native to the Caucasus, Iran, Afghanistan, and central Asia.
This particular species of the Achillea genus is one of the tallest ones and it’s similar to the Achillea millefolium (Common Yarrow).
The genus name references Achilles, the hero of the Trojan Wars in Greek mythology, who planted medicinally to stop bleeding and to heal the wounds soldiers.
It’s characterized by its long-lasting golden flowers and fern-like foliage.
An interesting aspect of the plant is it releases a spicy aroma when its semi-evergreen foliage is crushed.
Compared to other perennials, it’s a well-behaved plant which doesn’t overtake garden soils.
Positioned in a sunny location, it creates a bushy mound of fragrant flowers which thrive even in substandard growing locations.
The common names you may hear include:
- Fernleaf Yarrow
- Coronation Gold
- Gold Plate
Fern Leaf Yarrow Care
Size & Growth
Yarrow has herbaceous foliage with fern-like texture leaves.
This long-lasting foliage is dotted with clumps of tiny, bright yellow/golden flowers.
The plants bloom time is during early summer to early fall growing to impressive heights.
It can reach a height of 35″ – 59″ inches and spreads 18″ – 23″ inches in diameter.
This plant has a fast growth rate, which means you will see it bloom not too long after you plant it in your garden.
Flowering and Fragrance
Achillea is known for its bright flower color.
During the summer season, the plant blooms tiny bright yellow flowers on stiff, erect stems.
The stems are usually longer than the foliage and could rise above to 3′ – 4′ feet.
The flowers appear in flattened, plate-like compound corymbs.
They start blooming early during the summer and lasts through the fall season.
To promote long-lasting blooming, deadhead flowers so lateral buds can bloom.
Light & Temperature
The bright yellow flowers love bright full sun.
They do extremely well when planted in sunny locations where they get light throughout the day.
The plant’s quite tolerable and hardy in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 9.
They are heat tolerant and grow in locations where summers are long and hot.
Make sure they get enough sunlight during the day to remain healthy for the growing season.
Watering and Feeding
Fernleaf Yarrow has average water needs and can tolerate hot and humid summers.
It’s drought tolerant and can even moderately tolerate salt.
Since they prefer a drier climate, don’t overwater it.
Overwatering can lead to root rot and negatively impact the plant’s health.
Soil & Transplanting
Yarrow is favored because of its ability to grow beautiful flowers, even in poor soil conditions.
However, they do well when planted in well-drained soil with dry to medium soil moisture.
Unlike some other plants, avoid using heavily enriched and moist soils.
This can cause your plant to get leggy.
A mixture of average or sandy soil type with a neutral pH is sufficient for healthy foliage and flowering.
Grooming and Maintenance
Since Achillea doesn’t tend to spread and overtake, it’s pretty low maintenance.
Although not necessary, deadheading is used to encourage further growth.
As soon as you see spent flowers, remove them.
It will promote lateral flower buds to be exposed and bloom.
Furthermore, cutting back the plant after initial blooming will also promote rebloom and extend the bloom season for the year.
Although Yarrow is not a spreading species, it does have a clumping habit.
Staking is necessary from time to time.
How to Propagate Achillea Yarrow
Yarrow propagates by seed and division.
If you’re propagating from seeds:
- Collect them in late summer.
- Cut the flower heads as they start turning light brown and let them dry.
- Wrap them in paper towels and let them chill in the fridge for four weeks.
- In late spring, sow the seeds in a ¼-inch deep hole.
- It will take approximately 14 to 30 days to germinate if kept moist.
- When they grow a few inches tall, transplant them to their permanent position in early fall.
If you’re using the division method:
- Divide the young plants away from the main one in early spring.
- Plant them the clumps immediately at the same level as they were and water well.
Achillea Pest or Disease Problems
The diseases commonly found in Achillea include stem rot, powdery mildew, and rust.
Learn more on How To Get Rid Of Powdery Mildew
The plant is usually problem-free and even deer resistant.
Suggested Uses For Achillea Filipendulina
The clusters of bright yellow flowers on Fern Leaf Achillea look striking when planted in groups or masses in garden beds or borders.
The plant looks beautiful as cut flowers in arrangements or as dried flowers in dried arrangements.
There are many herbs that can catapult the success of our gardens. Yarrow is one of those herbs. It’s a medicinal powerhouse and has many uses in the permaculture garden. Here are 5 reasons to grow yarrow in your garden.
This article may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.
Growing Habits of Yarrow
Common yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is native to the dry, disturbed soils of prairies, meadows, and the edges of forest in the northern hemisphere. This perennial grows best in hardiness zones 3-9.
It grows 36-inches high and produces white flowers. Other varieties produce pink, yellow, red, or orange flowers. Like many other prairie plants, its deep, fibrous roots enjoy absorbing water in my rain garden.
In fact, my first experience growing yarrow was adding it to my rain garden. See: How to Build a Rain Garden to Capture Runoff
I was impressed with the cheerfulness of the flowers, the roots’ hardiness to push through the clay soil, and the number of pollinators landing on the flat flower tops or seeking shelter in the fern-like foliage.
Even if you don’t grow this herb in your garden, it’s a fun herb to forage. You can spot the fern-like foliage in sunny, cleared areas. It’s easy to collect the seeds after the flower heads have died, so you can sow them around your garden.
5 Reasons to Grow Yarrow
Here are five reasons why I enjoy growing yarrow in my garden.
1. Yarrow may accumulate nutrients.
According to Dr. Duke at the USDA, yarrow’s deep roots mine the subsoil for potassium, calcium, and magnesium. And according to sources like Gaia’s Garden and Edible Forest Gardens, yarrow may also mine for phosphorus and copper, making it a potentially nutrient-rich mulch.
We don’t have a lot of scientific data about these nutrient accumulators. For example, does the plant make the nutrients available to the soil if used as a mulch? While the jury is still out, my food gardens seem to be healthier when yarrow is grown in them.
Using yarrow as a potential fertilizer is just one of many ways we can “stack the deck” in our favor of having a thriving, healthy garden. Perhaps not everything we try will yield the result we’re looking for, but with a richness of plant diversity comes a rich gardening experience.
Would you like to learn more about using herbs like yarrow to improve the biodiversity of your garden, reduce maintenance, and increase yield?
You’ll find loads of information just like this in my award-winning book, The Suburban Micro-Farm.
Grow healthy fruit trees. Create healthy mulch and compost.
Because of its potential ability to fertilize, grow yarrow under fruit trees to enhance fruit production. You can also chop and use it as mulch around the garden, or add it to the compost bin to boost nutrient content.
For more about fruit tree guilds, see:
- How to Build a Fruit Tree Guild
- The Cherry Tree Guild and Natural Pest Control
For more about mulching and fertilizing with herbs, see:
- Mulching in the Permaculture Garden
- Fertilizing the Garden with Herbs
Deep-rooted yellow yarrow anchors the rain garden that overlooks my patio.
Create amazing food forests.
In a new food forest, you’ll want to protect the soil until the trees have matured and begin to provide shade. A mixed cover crop can be used in this less-visited area to build soil, mine minerals, break up compacted soil, and attract beneficial insects.
In Gaia’s Garden, Toby Hemenway suggests a mixture of the following mix, which would only need mowed once or twice per year:
- annual rye
- daikon radish
For more about food forests, see:
- Create a Food Forest for Low-Maintenance, Edible Rewards
- Benefits of the Edible Forest Garden
Where lead contamination in soil is a concern, yarrow may be able to help with the clean up.
Yarrow may mine copper from the subsoil, which is an important micronutrient for plant growth and an essential amendment for acidic soils.
According to Gaia’s Garden, however, plants that mine for copper can also concentrate lead if it is present in the soil, “such as along the foundation of old houses where lead-based paint may have weathered”.
A simple and inexpensive soil test can inform you whether or not contaminated soil is a concern.
This is why yarrow and many other accumulators of copper and zinc are used to clean up lead-contaminated sites: The lead concentrates in the plants, which are dug up at the end of each season (roots and all) and disposed of.
If this is a concern on your site, do not use these plants for mulching, medicinal, edible, or craft purposes.
2. It attracts beneficial insects and pollinators.
The white, yellow, or pink flowers attract many types of pollinators who prefer umbel-shaped flowers for nectar collection.
A wealth of beneficial insects such as lacewings, parasitoid wasps, ground beetles, spiders, ladybugs, and hoverflies find habitat for egg-laying or overwintering refuge in the fern-like foliage.
According to Carrots Love Tomatoes, yarrow emits a pungent odor that repels pests, so you might consider growing it near pest-prone gardens.
Pink yarrow mingles with other herbs like oregano and fennel here in my herb garden.
3. Yarrow makes a good ground cover.
If left to its own devices, yarrow will grow to about 3 feet high, producing flowers throughout the summer.
However, you can try growing it as a running ground cover. It can handle light foot traffic if it is mowed a few times a year (according to Edible Forest Gardens). It may not flower if it has been cut, but the beneficial insects will still be able to utilize the foliage for refuge.
4. It has medicinal uses.
The flower and the upper portions of leaf and stem have many medicinal uses, making yarrow an important herb to have in your medicinal garden.
A yarrow tea can help to reduce a fever and a yarrow poultice can calm the inflammation and soreness of a bruise.
Yarrow has many first aid uses such as stopping bleeding, or as a general first aid remedy for calming and healing rashes, bug bites, bee stings, cuts, and burns.
According to Homegrown Herbs, the yellow flowers should not be taken internally, such as in teas, tinctures, elixirs, syrup, or honey. Only white or pink flower yarrows should be used for internal medicine. Yarrow should not be taken internally by pregnant women.
5. Yarrow is edible and useful in crafts.
Individual flowers are edible, and Homegrown Herbs suggests using them for a confetti effect in cookie batter. The dried cut flowers also make beautiful wreaths and dried bouquets.
Useful or not, yarrow is a joy to have in the garden!
- 5 Weeds You Want in your Garden
- Attract Beneficial Insects in the Edible Landscape
- What is Comfrey and How to Grow It
What’s your favorite reason to grow yarrow?
>>> Get my free 19-page Guide to Organic Soil Amendments for more ideas:
How to Grow and Use Yarrow
Let’s talk about how to grow and use yarrow.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a tough, hardy perennial as well as a potent medicinal herb.
Some people consider this an invasive, roadside weed. However, I have always loved Yarrow, even before I knew its’ medicinal value, and I have always left a place for it in my flower beds and herb gardens. I think that Yarrow flowers are beautiful, with their umbrella-type shape and varying colors from white to pinkish-red. I also LOVE their soft, fern-like leaves.
As long as you MAINTAIN your yarrow, they will not become an invasive plant in your garden, but instead they will know their place.
Medicinal Uses of Yarrow:
**Yarrow has many powerful medicinal purposes:
- It can be used to stop bleeding quickly. This includes treating heavy menstrual bleeding.
- It can be used to dilate peripheral blood vessels, which makes it good for the heart. (Check this post of mine for an Herbal Tea for the Heart)
- Yarrow is good for reducing inflamation.
- This herb helps with fevers and colds/flus by reducing body temperatures and encouraging perspiration (often combined with elder flowers for this). Click here for my herbal tea that you should take at the first sign of a cold.
- Yarrow is also a valuable digestive remedy: it helps with colic, indigestion, and improving appetite by stimulating bile flow and liver function.
For more information, check out this other post of mine on the Medicinal Benefits of Yarrow.
If you are not interested in growing yarrow, but you want to use it, you can often find some at local health stores. Otherwise, you might need to buy it online, this is an online option.
How to Grow Yarrow:
**Yarrow is a tough, hardy perennial.
**This plant is very easy to grow, and shines in zones 3-9.
**Even if you do not want to plant Yarrow for its’ medicinal benefits OR because the flowers are beautiful, you should plant Yarrow because when you add the leaves to your compost pile, it will speed up decomposition. It also “doctors” the plants near the Yarrow, making them healthier and better in many ways (see below for more on that).
**You can pretty much plant Yarrow anywhere.
**It likes anything from full sun to partial shade. Yarrow will tolerate any type of soil, but prefers well-drained, rich soil.
**They are frost hardy and drought-resistant, so you can plant them in spots of your yard where other things will not grow.
**You can propagate from seed (like these). It is best if you do cold stratification for 1 month, then sow the seeds in pots indoors. Do not transplant outdoors until 6-8 weeks later (when the plant is healthy and frost danger has passed).
**You can also sow the seeds directly into the ground in Early Spring. For more information on what to plant in Early Spring, check out this post.
**You can also propagate by root division in the Spring or Fall.
**Since Yarrow is an invasive plant, you need to maintain it by dividing the plant. Dig up clumps of the plant and either plant it somewhere else or put the leaves in your compost pile and properly discard the rest.
**You should divide the plant every 3 years in late Fall or Early Spring.
**Yarrow is considered the “plant doctor” of the garden. Yarrow’s root secretions activate the disease resistance of nearby plants. It also deepens the color, flavor, and fragrance of nearby plants.
**Harvest the flowering stalks when they are fully open. If you are drying the, hang them upside down in small bunches, out of direct sunlight.
**You can harvest the leaves at anytime.
Do YOU grow and use Yarrow?
I hope you learned something about how to grow and use yarrow. Do you already grow it?
If so, how do you use yarrow for your home?
If not, do you think you will grow Yarrow or at least use it in the future?
More Herbal Tips:
- Everything You Need to Know About Lemon Balm
- Borage Tea for Stress
- Everything You Need to Know About Valerian
- Growing and Using Feverfew
Planting and Growing Yarrow
Give your garden a shot of easy-care color by adding yarrow to the planting mix. Common yarrow (Achillea millefolium) and fernleaf or yellow yarrow (Achillea filipendulina) bring summer-long color to garden beds and borders. Planting yarrow is an easy chore—even finding the just-right spot isn’t difficult. Growing yarrow is equally simple. Plants are fuss-free and undemanding.
When planting yarrow, start with a spot in full sun. While plants can survive in the lower light of a partial sun or part shade setting, flower stems will stretch and become floppy. At this point, you’ll definitely need to stake plants, which would otherwise not be necessary for common yarrow and the shorter fernleaf yarrow varieties. Staking is wise for common fernleaf yarrow, since its stems can grow four feet tall and higher.
Planting yarrow in a somewhat sheltered location—where winds don’t whip through too often—makes sense when you realize that flower stems can appear on plants for the entire summer. The stems stand above a clump of fern-like leaves, making them vulnerable to strong winds.
The other consideration for planting yarrow is soil type. Select a spot where soil is average to lean. Too-rich soil or soil with high fertility leads to lush plants with weak, floppy flower stems. Soils need to drain well so plants don’t rot. Avoid heavy clay soils, which don’t drain well.
Growing yarrow is one of the more undemanding chores you’ll tackle in gardening. Plants don’t need much attention during the growing season. Some gardeners clip spent flowers, snipping flower stems down near the main foliage clump. This can lead to an autumn rebloom in common yarrow and some of its hybrids. Fernleaf yarrow doesn’t rebloom.
It’s a good idea to clip spent flower heads before they set seed for several reasons. First, some of the common yarrow types self-sow freely, and leaving flowerheads in place can result in a yarrow takeover in the garden. Second, yarrow crossbreeds vary readily, which means that if plants do self-sow, you could wind up with seedlings that have reverted to the parent types—likely the wild yarrow with white to gray blooms.
One aspect of growing yarrow you’ll need to master is curtailing the spread. Common yarrow and some of its varieties tend to spread from the central foliage tuft via underground stems. This can also lead to yarrow overrunning garden beds. In early spring, as new growth appears, it’s easy to pull up spreading stems by hand, especially if you tackle the task after rain when soil is soft. Fernleaf yarrow and some of the common yarrow hybrids don’t spread as aggressively as the wild, common type.
How to grow: Achillea
The silver-leaved achilleas, such as ‘Moonshine’ and Anthea, all need light soil and full sun. They thrive in summers but persistent rain can make them look miserable and blacken the flowers. Another sun-worshipping achillea with a repeat flowering habit is the spreading (and some say invasive) low-growing Achillea nobilis subsp. neilreichii. The ferny foliage is smooth and grey-green, while the flower, which appears just after ‘Moonshine’, is more creamy than light yellow. It will thrive in the very driest conditions.
The terracotta and orange achilleas are grey-leaved too, but flower from late summer onwards – many do fade to dull brown, however. The most enduring for colour and longevity is ‘Walther Funcke’, a warm orange achillea that only reaches a foot in height. Though useful and handsome against the taller catmint Nepeta grandiflora and other blue flowers, it cannot match the bushy vigour and one-flower-after-another performance of ‘Moonshine’ – an established garden classic.
Achilleas are members of the daisy family, a diverse genus. When growing them, look at the leaf carefully. Green-leaved achilleas need good soil and sun, although the taller cultivars (such as A. filipendulina ‘Gold Plate’) often thrive at the back of the border given some sun.
Those with silver, slightly pungent leaves do best in full sun on light, well-drained soils. Gardeners with heavy soil can succeed with them (and other silver-leaved plants) by making a raised bed. Heap the soil above ground level and incorporate coarse grit. Always plant in the spring to avoid the chance of plants being killed by winter wet as they establish themselves.
‘Moonshine’ must be replaced every three years or so. Pull away young growths from the main plant, leaving a heel, from early spring onwards. Place lots of cuttings in a seed tray containing half-and-half horticultural sand and soil-based compost. These pieces will root very easily – within weeks.
Pot up each rooted cutting individually into a 3in pot and plant out in late summer in well-drained soil. Gardeners with heavier soils should place these new achilleas in a cold frame and wait until the following spring. Taking cuttings works with all achilleas.
Achilleas are disease-free plants with medicinal associations – yarrow (Achillea millefolium) was used to staunch bleeding and is known as woundwort. Legend has it that the warrior Achilles treated his soldiers with this herb, and it is still used in homeopathy today. It can be grown with herbs and on the edge of vegetables beds.
In the flower border, Achillea ‘Moonshine’ enhances many other sun-loving plants – including lavender, purple sage, phlomis and artemisia. It also makes a splendid background for tall, blue, bearded irises such as ‘Braithwaite’ and ‘Jane Phillips’ and mixes well with the blue sun-loving Salvia pratensis Haemotodes Group, a short-lived perennial easily raised from seed, and the slender drumstick Allium sphaerocephalon, which has rose-pink flower heads.
Planted behind ‘Moonshine’, the red crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ and the orange C. masoniorum bring warmth to sunny borders. Add the pale yellow daisy, Anthemis tinctoria ‘E C Buxton’ to the planting as well. This, too, has repeat flowering abilities.
Buy Achillea ‘Taygetea’ from the Telegraph Gardenshop.
Botanical Name: Achillea Millefolium
Yarrow grows naturally in Europe and Western Asia and is grown around the world as a medicinal and ornamental herb.
It is a perennial herb with feathery leaves that spread along the ground in a matt like habit. Flower stems up to 60cm rise from underground rhizomes and produce many small white to pink flowers in flat clusters.
Scatter a few yarrow leaves in layers through the compost bin help to activate and break down the compost.
Medicinally Yarrow has been used for colds, flu, arthritis and hypertension. Externally it can been used on wound and cuts to stop bleeding. Bruised leaves can be crushed and carefully placed in the nose to stop bleeding.
Yarrow combined with equal amounts of peppermint and elder flower is a traditional tea used for colds and flu.
The flowers can be used in flower arrangements and dry well.
Yarrow will grow in sun or part shade. Responds well to water but will survive dry conditions. Grow in cottage gardens or rock gardens.