Discover the beauty and benefits of growing yarrow! This easy-to-grow perennial attracts pollinators, resists pests, and adds vibrant color to your garden with minimal effort.

Do you dream of growing a flourishing flower bed bursting with vibrant colors and interesting textures, all with minimal effort? Look no further than yarrow – one of the easiest flowers to grow for a low-maintenance garden.

If you’re looking for a tough, beautiful flower that practically takes care of itself, yarrow might be your perfect plant.

Its delicate, fern-like leaves and clusters of cheerful blooms in white, pink, yellow, and red add a pop of color all season long. Plus, yarrow is a pollinator magnet and incredibly drought-tolerant.

This versatile perennial is a friend to both seasoned gardeners and beginners. But yarrow isn’t just about stunning good looks – it’s about toughness too.

This drought-tolerant plant shrugs off neglect and bounces back year after year. Sound too good to be true?

In this guide, I’m sharing how to successfully grow yarrow so you can enjoy its enduring beauty with minimal work for years to come.

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growing vibrant pink achillea (yarrow) flowers in a lush garden

I’ve been growing several different yarrow varieties in my flower garden for the last few years. In my former garden, I overlooked this underrated perennial plant. And I’m not sure why! When we moved here, I saw it at the nursery, was inspired to plant it, and have fallen in love with it ever since.

You can’t beat the beautiful colors and textures that it adds to flower gardens. And it’s easy to grow too? Yes, please!

The Basics of Growing Yarrow: What You Need to Know Before Planting

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is an herbaceous perennial that thrives in many climates. It typically grows 2-3 feet tall and spreads into a lovely mound.

You might recognize its distinctive feathery leaves. While common yarrow often has white blooms, you can find cultivars sporting delightful pinks, yellows, and vibrant reds. Yarrow is a remarkably tough plant, thriving in USDA hardiness zones 3-9. Yarrow loves full sun for the most blossoms but tolerates some shade too.

It’s adaptable to various soil conditions, but the key is good drainage. Yarrow can handle sandy, loamy, or even slightly clay-based soils as long as they don’t remain constantly wet. It’s not picky about soil fertility and can even flourish in less-than-ideal locations.

Gardeners love yarrow’s extended blooming season. It typically starts flowering in early summer and continues into fall. If you diligently deadhead spent blooms, you can encourage even more flowers throughout the season.

  • Category: Perennial
  • Hardiness Zone: USDA Zones 3-9. Yarrow is very hardy and can tolerate cold winters as well as hot, dry conditions.
  • Bloom Time: Late spring to early fall
  • Height and Width: It generally reaches about 18-24 inches in height and spreads around 12-18 inches.
  • Light Requirements: Prefers full sun but can tolerate light shade, especially in hotter climates.
  • Soil Requirements: Best growth is achieved in well-drained soil; it can handle poor, rocky, or sandy soils and is highly drought-tolerant once established.
  • Deer Resistance: Yarrow is considered deer-resistant due to its aromatic foliage, which contains bitter compounds and essential oils that deer find unpalatable. The strong scent and taste of yarrow deter deer and other herbivores from browsing on it.
Clusters of small yellow flowers with hints of orange, blooming above feathery green leaves, with a mulched ground in the background (achillea firefly peach sky) - growing yarrow
achillea firefly peach sky

Planting Yarrow: A Step-by-Step Guide

You can cultivate stunning achillea blooms either by starting from them seed or planting established transplants.

I’ll walk you through both methods, providing step-by-step instructions to help ensure your yarrow thrives in your garden. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or new to plant parenthood, you’ll find everything you need to know to successfully add yarrow’s beauty and resilience to your landscape.

How to Grow Yarrow from Seed

For budget-friendly blooms, start yarrow from seed either indoors or via the winter sowing method. I’ll cover both here so you can decide which is easiest for you!

Starting Yarrow from Seed Indoors

Start yarrow seed indoors about 8 weeks (or whatever your seed packet recommends) before your last frost. They need light to germinate so you don’t have to cover the seed for it to sprout.

Use a seed starting tray or small pots with drainage holes filled with a quality organic seed starter mix that is pre-moistened. Yarrow needs light to germinate so you don’t need to cover the seed. Sow only one variety per cell tray as the different plants will germinate at different times.

Cover seed trays with a clear dome and move them under grow lights placed on a heat mat to speed up germination. Remove the cover when the seeds start to germinate. It’s okay if they didn’t all germinate, more will grow after the cover is removed.

Keep the soil moist by bottom watering only. Before transplanting yarrow seedlings outdoors, harden them off by gradually exposing them to outdoor conditions over a period of 14 days.

When seedlings are hardened off and ready to plant in the garden, space them in your flower garden about 18″ inches. Water young plants regularly, keeping the soil moist but not waterlogged. Then feed with an organic fish fertilizer for a few weeks to promote healthy growth and lots of blooms.

A vibrant garden scene featuring clusters of pink and white yarrow flowers, with prominent pink coneflowers in the background and delicate white yarrow in the foreground. Growing yarrow with coneflowers
Pink flowers: yarrow and coneflowers

Starting Yarrow Seed Using the Winter Sowing Method

Winter sowing is a GREAT way to start yarrow seeds if they are hardy in your hardiness zone. You’ll save yourself some indoor seed starting space and don’t need to go through the hassle of hardening them off. Thus, winter sowing is very eco-friendly!

I started some yarrow from seed for the first time this year using the winter sowing method and every single seed sprouted!

The best winter containers for sowing are things that we use every day like chicken rotisserie containers, milk jugs, and plastic storage boxes. Each of these items can be repurposed and recycled as winter sowing containers, so we don’t have to spend a dime on expensive seed starting trays, domes, and grow lights.

It’s important to add drainage holes to the container bottoms so moisture can drain out. Fill the bottoms of containers about halfway with pre-moistened potting soil. (You should be able to make a ball out of the soil without it falling apart.) To keep things neat in my workspace, I used THIS tray to hold the potting soil and THIS tray beneath my containers.

Then sow your seeds and attach the cover and tape it closed. Label the containers well so you know what’s planted. Remove the cap or add a few holes at the top of the container to insure good airflow.

Move seed starts to an outdoor location that receives sunlight and rain, but is protected from harsh weather. And if you live in a warmer climate, set them in a shadier spot where they’ll receive moisture but don’t cook in the heat. Check weekly to make sure they are moist.

The seeds will eventually sprout! Mine did and the plants are thriving in my new cottage garden.

A vibrant garden scene with tall red flowers and clusters of pink yarrow blooms in the foreground, surrounded by lush greenery. Growing yarrow with coneflowers
Achillea and coneflowers

Planting Yarrow in Your Garden With Transplants

I’ve been gardening for almost 30 years and this is the first time I’ve ever started yarrow from seed. If you want to skip seed starting and quicker results, buy yarrow plants from your garden center in spring or fall. Space plants 18″ apart to allow for spread.

Here’s how to plant achillea in your garden.

Choose a sunny spot with well-draining soil. Dig a hole twice as wide as the plant’s container, and the same depth. Gently loosen the roots and place the plant in the hole. Then backfill with soil, press gently, and water well.

Yarrow Care: Easy Tips for Beautiful Blooms

Achillea is the poster child for low-maintenance plants! They are that easy to care for! Here’s the simple routine:

  • Watering: Water deeply when first planted, then only during extreme drought. Established yarrow is remarkably tough.
  • Division: Every few years, in spring or fall, divide yarrow clumps to keep them healthy and control their size.
  • Mulching: Mulching around the base of your achillea to help retain soil moisture, keep the roots cool and control weeds.
  • Weeding: Keep the planting area weed-free to prevent competition for water and nutrients.
  • Fertilizing: I don’t fertilize my perennial flowers unless they are in grown in pots. Instead, I recommend focusing on good soil quality by amending it yearly with compost, aged manure, leaf mold, and other organic matter.
  • Deadheading: Deadheading, or removing spent flowers, is a simple technique to promote continuous blooming in yarrow. This practice not only encourages the plant to produce more flowers but also helps maintain a neat and tidy appearance in your garden. Plus it keeps the rampant self-seeding in check.
achillea firefly peach sky

Yarrow Pests and Diseases: Troubleshooting Tips

One of yarrow’s greatest strengths is its natural resistance to most pests and diseases! However, even the toughest plants can sometimes be bothered. Here’s what to watch for and how to handle any issues that pop up:

  • Aphids: These tiny sap-sucking insects may cluster on new growth. A strong blast of water often dislodges them, or use insecticidal soap for stubborn cases.
  • Powdery Mildew: This fungal disease can appear as a white coating on leaves, especially in humid conditions. Improve air circulation by thinning out overcrowded yarrow, and prune off severely affected parts of the plant.
  • Root Rot: This is rare, but can happen if yarrow is constantly in soggy soil. Ensure your planting area has good drainage. If root rot is suspected, digging up the plant and repotting it into fresh, well-draining soil may help.

Growing Yarrow in Pots

Growing yarrow in pots is a fantastic option for gardeners with limited space or those who prefer container gardening. Yarrow’s hardy nature and adaptability make it well-suited for container growth, allowing you to enjoy it on patios, balconies, or any sunny spot. Here are some tips for successfully growing yarrow in pots:

Select a pot that is at least 12 inches in diameter and has good drainage holes. Yarrow has a moderate root system, so a container with adequate depth is essential for healthy growth.

Use a well-draining potting mix, ideally one formulated for drought-tolerant plants or a cactus mix. You can also add sand or perlite to improve drainage.

When planting yarrow in a pot, ensure the crown of the plant is level with the soil surface. Plant one to a pot as they need at least 12″ of spacing between plants. After planting, water thoroughly to help the plants establish their roots.

Place the pot in a location that receives full sun for at least six to eight hours a day. Water the plants well but allow the soil to dry out between waterings. During the hot summer months, you’ll likely need to water potted yarrow once per day. Always water the base of plants in the earlier part of the day where plant roots need it most. This will help cut down on pest and disease problems in the long run. But the best way to water potted flowers is to set up a drip irrigation system so it is set and forget!

Yarrow does not require much fertilization. A light application of a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in the spring will provide sufficient nutrients for the growing season. Deadhead spent flowers regularly to encourage continuous blooming and prevent the plant from becoming leggy.

Winter Care for Achillea in Pots

If you want your yarrow in pots to survive the winter, choose a variety than can handle two zones colder than your current hardiness zone. This means, if you live in zone 6, you’ll want to ensure the variety you grow can handle zone 4.

Another option is moving the pot to a sheltered location or insulating it with mulch or bubble wrap. You can also try bringing the pot indoors to a cool, bright area to overwinter and water it minimally.

Growing yarrow in pots allows you to enjoy its beauty and benefits in versatile settings, making it a perfect choice for small gardens, urban spaces, and container displays. With proper care and attention, your potted yarrow will thrive and bring continuous charm to your outdoor or indoor space.

A lush garden bed lined with a stone wall, featuring a variety of blooming flowers such as yarrow, pink, purple, orange, and yellow blossoms. The background has dense green trees, and a well-manicured lawn stretches alongside the flowerbed.

Using Achillea in Cut Flower Arrangements

Yarrow’s pretty blooms and delicate, fern-like foliage make it a stunning addition to cut flower gardens and arrangements. Its flat flower clusters create beautiful focal points or airy filler within bouquets. From classic whites to vibrant pinks and yellows, yarrow adds a delightful pop of color and natural texture to any design.

Tips for Using Yarrow in Arrangements

  • Harvest at the Right Time: Cut yarrow stems when the flowers are just opening for the longest vase life.
  • Remove Lower Foliage: Strip off any leaves that would be submerged in the vase water to prevent decay.
  • Pair with Complementary Blooms: Yarrow works beautifully with both bold and delicate flowers. Experiment with roses, zinnias, lavender, or wispy grasses for delightful combinations.
  • Don’t Forget Dried Arrangements: Yarrow dries well, preserving its shape and color. Include it in dried flower bouquets for long-lasting beauty.

Bonus: Yarrow is known to have a subtle, sweet fragrance, adding a gentle touch of scent to your bouquets!

Companion Planting with Yarrow: Attract Pollinators, Repel Pests

Yarrow isn’t just a beautiful addition to your garden; it’s also a great team player! Strategic companion planting with yarrow can boost the health and productivity of surrounding plants, attracting beneficial insects while discouraging unwanted pests. This means you’ll grow an eco-friendly garden while cutting down on the use of pesticides. Here are some ideas of what to plant with yarrow.

Achillea: The Pollinator Magnet

Yarrow’s flat-topped flower clusters are packed with tiny, nectar-rich blooms. These make irresistible landing pads for lots of pollinators and beneficial insects alike.

Add plants like milkweed and coneflowers alongside your yarrow to create a full butterfly garden. Yarrow also attracts various bee species, including honeybees, essential for garden pollination. And hoverflies, ladybugs, and parasitic wasps feast on pest insects, and they adore yarrow’s pollen and nectar.

Yarrow as a Natural Repellent

Yarrow’s scent is rumored to deter some pests, making it a helpful companion for vulnerable plants. While not foolproof, consider planting yarrow near tomatoes, peppers, or brassicas to potentially discourage aphids and other munchers. Not to mention, achillea can help mask the scent of herbs like basil or mint, which some pests find appealing.

Best Companion Plants for Yarrow

Yarrow is a great companion plant for many different types of plants. For example, herbs like dill, oregano, thyme, and chives pair well with yarrow.

It looks gorgeous with blooms like such as coneflowers, bee balm, sunflowers, salvia. And it helps ward of pests with tomatoes, peppers, and other leafy greens

Keep in mind that companion planting results can vary. Observe your garden and enjoy experimenting with different plant combinations to find what works best for you and your resident bugs!

monochromatic pink flowers of yarrow and coneflowers
monochromatic pink flowers of yarrow and coneflowers

Top Achillea Varieties

Here are some of my favorite varieties of yarrow.

  • Firefly Peach Sky
  • Firefly Amethyst
  • Firefly Fuschia
  • Vintage Rose
  • Vintage Violet
  • Layla
  • Apricot Delight

Growing Yarrow FAQ: All Your Growing Questions Answered

Got questions about growing yarrow? You’re in the right place! This section provides answers to common queries about planting, care, controlling spread, and more.

Can yarrow take some shade?

Yes, yarrow can handle partial shade but it blooms best in full sun.

Can yarrow be grown in pots?

Yes, yarrow can easily be grown in pots. To ensure it survives the winter, choose achillea that is 2 zones hardier than your locality. Choose containers that can handle the freezing and thawing of winter temperatures. Avoid using clay, terracotta, or stone as they will break if left outdoors in winter.

Does yarrow spread?

Yes, yarrow can spread via seeds and underground runners. I haven’t found it to be aggressive in my zone 6b garden. Dividing it regularly will help keep it in check.

How invasive is yarrow?

Common yarrow is vigorous and can spread quickly. To prevent it from becoming invasive, be mindful of its growth habit and consider dividing it regularly. Before planting check with your local cooperative extension about their growth habit in your locality. In my zone 6 garden, it spreads but not aggressively.

Is yarrow deer resistant?

Yarros is not the most deer-resistant plant but does have some repelling properties. If you live in an area where deer are a problem, you may want to employ other strategies or use deer repellents to give them additional protection from browsing.

achillea coneflowers and zinnias

Final Thoughts About Growing Yarrow

With this easy guide, you’re well on your way to enjoying years of carefree color with yarrow!Growing yarrow offers numerous benefits, making it a valuable addition to any garden. Its vibrant, long-lasting blooms add continuous color from late spring to early fall, while its feathery foliage provides texture and interest.

Yarrow’s deer-resistant nature ensures it remains unbrowsed, and its ability to attract pollinators enhances the ecological health of your garden. This hardy perennial thrives in poor soils and dry conditions, making it an excellent choice for xeriscaping and low-maintenance gardening. Additionally, yarrow’s versatility as a cut or dried flower further elevate its appeal, providing both beauty and practical benefits with minimal effort.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please share them in the comments below. And if you love this post, please share it with your gardening besties or pin it to your favorite Pinterest board.

Need to brush up on some flower gardening basics? Please read these posts:

Want to learn more about growing Achillea? Read more about it with the North Carolina Extension Service here.

Thank you so much for following along.

Enjoy a beautiful day! xo

Stacy Ling

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2 Comments

  1. I planted my first yarrow last fall and have been amazed at the blooms this year. Will be adding more asap.