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Gardening 101: Yarrow

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Gardening 101: Yarrow

August 27, 2020

Yarrow,  Achillea: “Butterfly Landing Pads”

Butterflies rejoice when they spot yarrow (Achillea), a long-blooming perennial with flattened poufs of flowers for them to land on. Gardeners love this plant because it needs little water or maintenance, and even tolerates troublesome clay. Cut back spent flowers to keep it blooming all summer:

Yellow yarrow (Achillea) mingles well with other perennials in a flower bed. Photograph by Cristina Sanvito via Flickr.
Above: Yellow yarrow (Achillea) mingles well with other perennials in a flower bed. Photograph by Cristina Sanvito via Flickr.

I use yarrow in my garden designs when I need an easy, deer-resistant flowering perennial that attracts beneficials, provides a long burst of color, and adds a vertical element to a perennial bed. There are hundreds of varieties of yarrow, most which blooms in shades of yellow, white, pink, salmon.

I also really love contrasting yarrow with wispy grasses because Achillea‘s rigid, upright nature can provide that perfect ballast against the breeziness of ornamental grasses.

White dwarf yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a solid addition to a low-maintenance lawn that doesn’t overpower other native plants and grasses, but adds a pleasant variation. To  see more of this garden, visit: DIY: Wild Lawn. Photograph by Erin Boyle.
Above: White dwarf yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a solid addition to a low-maintenance lawn that doesn’t overpower other native plants and grasses, but adds a pleasant variation. To  see more of this garden, visit: DIY: Wild Lawn. Photograph by Erin Boyle.

Cheat Sheet

  • Yarrows are most comfortable in meadow type gardens, but also work in cottage and seaside gardens.
  • Attracts pollinators, like butterflies and bees, with their flat tops and bright colors like orange, red, yellow, pink and white.
  • Their colored blooms change and fade gently, providing long lasting interest. The flowers also are good cut flowers.
Achillea &#8
Above: Achillea ‘Moonshine’ attracts butterflies. Photograph by Audrey Zharkikh via Flickr.

Keep It Alive

  • Trim faded flowers and their stems to the base.
  • Plant Yarrow in full sun or the flower stalks will anxiously lean toward the light.
  • Divide clumps every three to five years for best bloom production.
Red toned Achillea &#8
Above: Red toned Achillea ‘Fanal’ adds to this drought-tolerant collection in artist Celia Hart’s England garden. To see more of this charming garden—and her fabulous chickens—visit: Celia’s Garden: At Home with an English Artist and Her Chickens. Photography by Jim Powell for Gardenista.

N.B. See more of our suggestions for pairing Perennials by browsing through our plant field guides, including ideas about how to find a place in your garden for our all-time favorites:

Finally, get more ideas on how to successfully plant, grow, and care for yarrow with our Yarrow: A Field Guide.

Finally, get more ideas on how to plant, grow, and care for various perennial plants with our Perennials: A Field Guide.

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