Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A is for Achillea

Common name:  Yarrow.  Known as a short lived perennial.

Achillea "Coronation Gold" (Gold - 36 inches)  Coronation Gold presents large golden yellow clusters of flowers up to 4 inches across all summer. It has gray-green foliage, a strong upright form and is heat tolerant. 

The foliage on yarrow will be from gray/blue to deep green.  Some are very fern-like while others have leaves more substantial looking. 

Yarrow is a good companion plant, not only repelling some bad insects while attracting good, predatory ones, but also improving soil quality.  It attracts predatory wasps, which drink the nectar and then use insect pests as food for their larvae. Similarly, it attracts ladybugs and hoverflies. Its leaves are thought to be good fertilizer, and a beneficial additive for compost. 
Several cavity-nesting birds use yarrow to line their nests. Experiments suggest that adding yarrow to nests inhibits the growth of parasites.

Both drought & heat tolerant and accustomed to poor soils & little care. Some of the older varieties may suffer from mildew if it's a wet summer.  Most new varieties are disease resistant and hardy.  New tall varieties are bred for sturdier stems.  Some of the tall older varieties will flop.

Yarrow isn't bothered by deer.  Keep them deadheaded for even more blooms. Zones 4-8.  Yarrow is not an aggressive spreader but needs to have room to form a good sized clump.  Best way to have more plants is to dig starts and transplant.  May also be planted by seed.

Yarrow looks especially lovely in cottage and informal or wild gardens.  Yarrow plants enjoy full sun and dry soil.  They will tolerate less sun but will be less full and bloom time will be shorter.  Some vibrant colors will not be true in more shade.  Most will die if standing in water.

From a mere 4 inches tall to a good five foot tall, they fit most any garden plan.  The rich golds and reds make a big statement while the softer colors are soothing.  The flowers do every well dried.  Pick when in full bloom and hand upside down until dry.  They will stay in a vase arrangement long past any other flower.  Make sure there is no foliage in the water.

Other yarrow varieties:
Achillea filipendulina "Gold Plate"  (Gold - 4 ft.)
Achillea millefolium "Saucy Seduction" (Rose/pink - 18 ins.)
Achillea millefolium "Peachy Seduction" (Pale mix - 24 ins.)
Achillea millefolium "Strawberry Seduction" (Red - 20 ins.)
Achillea millefolium "Sunny Seduction" (Yellow - 2 ft.)

Achillea millefolium "Paprika" (Apple red - 2 ft.)

Achillea  "Pretty Belinda" (Light pink - 20 ins.)
Achillea "Pink Grapefruit"  (Pale pink - 2 ft.)

Achillea "Summerwine"  (Wine pink - 2 ft.)
Achillea ageratum "Moonwalker"  (Yellow - 2 ft.)
 Achillea clyp. X "Moonshine"  (Canary yellow - 2 ft.)
Achillea millefolium "Cassis"  (Cherry red - 2 ft.)
Achillea filipendulina "Cloth of Gold" (Gold - 5 ft.)
Achillea filipendulina "Credo"  (Yellow - 3 ft.)
Achillea filipendulina "Parker's Variety"  (Yellow - 4 ft.)
Achillea millefolium "Cerise Queen"  (Purple/pink - 2 ft.)
Achillea millefolium "Colorado" (red/pink/yellow - 2 ft.)
 Achillea millefolium "Mary Ann"  (Lt. Yellow - 2 ft.)
Achillea millefolium "Red Beauty" (Red/pink - 18 ins.)
 Achillea millefolium "Summer Pastels"  (Pinks/white - 3 ft.)
Achillea ptarmica "Perry's White"  (White - 2 ft.)
Achillea ptarmica "The Pearl"  (White - 2 ft.)
Achillea siberia "Love Parade"  (Lavender/purple - 2 ft.)
Achillea tomentosa "Aurea"  (Yellow - 10 ins.)
Achillea millefolium var. rubra "Rosy Red" (Rosy pink - 2 ft.) 
Achillea millefolium "Apricot Delight"  (Apricot - 3 ft.)
Achillea "Moonshine" (Yellow - 2 ft.)
Achillea "Royal Tapestry" (Royal purple/pink - 2 ft.)
Achillea filipendulina "Fireland' (Intense red - 2 ft.)
Achillea millefolium "Apple Blossom" (Lilac/rose - 3 ft.)
Achillea "Terra Cotta" (Peach/orange/yellow - 3 ft.)
Achillea "Angelique"  (Deep red - 2 ft.)
Achillea "serbica" (White - 4 ins.)
Achillea "kellereri"  (White - 8 ins.)
Achillea "ageratifolia"  (White - 4 ins.)
Achillea millefolium "Summer Berries"  (Mix - 2 ft.)
Acillea millefolium 'Red Velvet'  (Red - 18 ins.)
Achillea millefolium 'Fireland'  (Red - 18 ins.)

The different varieties and subspecies indicate where they originated.  Yarrow was know for being a herbal that stopped bleeding.  The genus name Achillea is derived from mythical Greek character, Achilles, who reportedly carried it with his army to treat battle wounds.  This herbal has so many uses through the ages, it takes many pages to describe.

Yarrow was used as a flavoring in beer prior to the use of hops.  Yarrow has also been used as a food. The younger leaves are cooked much like spinach. Yarrow is sweet with a slight bitter taste. The leaves can also be dried and used as a herb in cooking. 


  1. I planted yarrow in a new flower garden this year. Initially, the foliage was large and beautiful. One of my plants turned completely brown--over night it seemed. I cut it back and it is trying to come back. My other plant completely wilted so I cut it back today. Neither plant bloomed this year. I have never had trouble growing yarrow until this year. I also noticed a mound of fire ants in the plant I cut back today. Help! What am I doing wrong???

  2. I'm sorry I didn't get back to you earlier-this didn't come to my e-mail as it usually does. If you have fire ants, you're not in the same area as me. I'm at a loss on why your yarrow would turn brown almost overnight. Have both survived after you cut them back and they've gone a month?