Yarrow Plant

a.k.a. Milfoil

Achillea millefolium
Photo: Goaplanet

The yarrow plant has a long history that goes back centuries. 
Achillea millefolium is a wildflower with flat white clusters on
top of three foot stems.  Other names for this wildflower
include Common Yarrow and White Yarrow.

Because there are blood coagulating properties in this herb, it was used by the Greeks to stanch, or stop, bleeding.  Because of this other names include Stanchgrass, Bloodwort, Sanguinary and Woundwort.

Achillea is named after the god Achilles.  During the Battle of Troy he is know for treating warriors' wounds with the yarrow herb.  It was brought to America by the earliest colonists and would soon be used by Native Americans and other settlers.  Eventually it would also be used by surgeons during the American Civil War for healing wounds caused by iron such as bullets and shrapnel. 

Achillea millefolium can become quite aggressive. 
Throughout the years it was known a problematic weed for farmers.

The good news is there are many cultivars.  These garden varieties are cultivated with Achillea millefolium, A. filipendulina, A. taygetea and A. clypeolata. 

Colors include yellow, red, orange, pink and purple.  Many more cross varieties are known as summer pastels which now come in peach tones to rusts to sandy-beige colors. 

Stems are feathery
and colors are green, blue-gray to gray-green.

Photo: Motorolka

Yarrow plant cultivars are easy to grow, tough perennials.  They thrive in hot, dry conditions where there is full sun.  They're great for southern exposure where there is maximum light and heat.

As perennials Achillea does well in cold climates and because there are so many varieties the planting zones are 3-9.  These are long bloormers and are seen early summer through July, others through late August. 

Other important highlights about Achillea include:

  • Regardless of if there is lime in the soil or not, the fragrant yarrow flower does well in poor to average soil as long as there is good drainage.  This includes sandy soils.  Rich soils produce ok results and often needs to be staked.  

  • The Achillea family is large and plants vary in heights from a few inches all the way to five feet, averaging three feet.  Many taller varieties may need to be staked.

  • Great plants to attract butterflies.

  • Great flowers for hummingbirds.

  • An informal plant that fits will into cottage gardens.

  • Used often as border plants.

  • Achillia are great rabbit and deer resistant plants.

  • Rare that there are problems - on occasion there may be powdery mildew or stem rot.

  • Wonderful for fresh and dried flower arrangements.  Will retain their color and fragrance.

  • Long blooming, drought tolerant plants.

  • Can divide Achillea every three years for propagation.

  • Propagate also by sowing Achillea seeds in spring.  Be sure not to cover seed with soil as germination is dependent on sunlight. 

  • Deadhead to promote Achillea to re-bloom.

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