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How to Grow: Yarrow
Achillea spp and hybrids
Bloom Period and Seasonal Color
Early to late summer in colors such as yellow, gold, red, rose, salmon and white
Mature Height x Spread
6 inches to 3 feet x 2 to 3 feet
attracts beneficials, drought tolerant, deer resistant, native
Yarrow is a commonly grown native perennial that has soft, fern-like foliage and flat, clusters of colorful flowers that bloom on and off all summer. Yarrow is a common wildflower plant, but also looks great in perennial flower borders. Low growing varieties make great edging and ground cover plants. Yarrow is a clump-forming plant, but does spread by under ground rhizomes. Care should be given where it’s planted so it doesn’t become invasive. The aromatic flowers attract butterflies and beneficial insects that help keep a good ecological balance in the garden. Yarrow is good for cutting and drying for flower arrangements. Once established, yarrow is salt spray tolerant, so is a good seaside plant.
Where, When and How to Plant
Yarrow is hardy throughout our region. Sow seeds indoors under grow lights 8 to 10 weeks before your last frost. You can also sow seeds directly in the garden, but the plants may not fill out and flower well until the second year. For small plantings, consider purchasing transplants from the local garden center or obtain divisions from a friend’s garden. Plant from spring to early fall in full sun on well-drained soil. Yarrow is tolerant of poor fertility soils. Space plants 1 to 2 feet apart.
Yarrow is drought tolerant so only newly planted transplants or seedlings need water to get established. Yarrow needs little additional fertilizer once established. Just spread a light layer of compost on plants in spring.
Regional Advice and Care
Deadhead spent flower heads starting in early summer to promote more flowering the rest of the summer. Cut back plants by one-half to stimulate new shoots and blooms. Thin spreading plants in spring to keep them from becoming invasive. Divide out these plants and replant in a new location or give them away. Cut plants to the ground in fall after a frost and compost the foliage. Space plants further apart or spray with an organic fungicide, such as Serenade, if powdery mildew is a problem.
Companion Planting and Design
Pair tall yarrow varieties with summer blooming perennial flowers, such as balloon flowers, daylilies and lavender. Grow low growing varieties in rock gardens and as an edging plant along a wall or front of a flower border. Of course, yarrow is a standard in many wildflower mixes and spreads quickly throughout an abandoned area.
Some good tall growing varieties include “Moonshine”, with its soft yellow flowers. “Paprika” has bright orange-red flowers whose color deepens as they age. “Coronation Gold” is a popular golden variety that’s widely adapted. “Pearl” is an unusual white flowered variety with double, button-like, white pom-pom flowers and lance-shaped leaves. A good low growing variety is wooly yarrow (A. tomentosa) that only grows 6 inches tall with yellow flowers.
Excerpted from my book, New England Getting Started Garden Guide.