What Is a Yarrow Plant

Discover one of the most versatile perennials.
Moonshine Yarrow (Achillea ‘Moonshine’)

Moonshine Yarrow (Achillea ‘Moonshine’)

'Moonshine' yarrow boasts lemon yellow blooms atop plants that reach 12 to 24 inches tall.

Photo by: PerennialResource.com


'Moonshine' yarrow boasts lemon yellow blooms atop plants that reach 12 to 24 inches tall.

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Consider adding yarrow plants to your landscape. Despite their tendency to spread, yarrow plant varieties offer a host of flower colors and can fill a multitude of roles in the garden. As an herb, yarrow boasts culinary and medicinal uses. Yarrow plants blend easily and beautifully with many common perennials. 

Yarrow plants are probably one of the easier perennials to grow. Plants are generally pest-free, and they’re not picky about soil or demanding when it comes to care. Yarrow grows best in lean soil that’s not too fertile. In these conditions, plants don’t normally need staking. Your only task as a gardener is to clip spent flowers. If yarrow plants flop, soil is likely nutrient-rich. Cut back on fertilizer to help reduce soil fertility. 

Use yarrow plants in cutting gardens to yield a host of colorful blooms. Yarrow flowers form flat, wide heads made up of individual blooms. The native wildflower yarrow (Achillea millefolium) has white to gray blossoms. Native yarrow plants have been hybridized with other yarrows to produce a host of flower colors, including bold red and gold, pastel peach and pink and even bicolor blooms. 

One well-known yarrow plant is ‘Moonshine’ yarrow. It’s a hybrid yarrow formed by crossing the native yarrow (Achillea millefolium) with Egyptian yarrow (Achillea aegyptiaca x taygetea), which has silvery leaves and bright yellow flowers. Both of these traits are evident in ‘Moonshine’ yarrow. 

Fernleaf yarrow (Achillea filipendulina) is another common yarrow. This yarrow plant grows much taller than common yarrow, topping out at 3 to 5 feet. It opens bright gold flower heads tightly packed with small blooms. The result is an almost solid flower that’s a favorite stopping place for butterflies. 

Yarrow plants are a natural addition to a wildlife or butterfly garden. The blossoms of all yarrow plants attract all kinds of pollinators, which love the flat-headed blooms filled with tiny flowers. You’ll see butterflies, beneficial insects, hummingbirds and different kinds of bees and wasps flock to yarrow flowers. 

You can also include the native common yarrow (Achillea millefolium) in an herb garden. This yarrow has a host of medicinal uses, including stopping blood flow and breaking fevers. Yarrow is also useful in soothing upset stomachs and relaxing menstrual cramps. Harvest yarrow flowers, leaves and stems to dry and use in a tea, poultice or salve.

Yarrow plants can spread somewhat aggressively in the garden. They self-sow readily and spread by underground stems. Remove spent flowers to prevent seed formation, clipping stalks back to the tuft of ferny leaves at the base of the plant. To keep plants in bounds, simply pull up spreading stems with a firm tug.

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