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Yarrow: The Low Maintenance, Powerhouse Flower

With tiny clusters of white, yellow, pink, and red flowers, many bypass the beauty of yarrow for its medicinal benefits. In the home garden, it can be a double hitter! Learn all about the amazing benefits of this herbal plant and how you can grow it in your own garden.

field and yarrow

If you’ve been looking to add to your flower bed or herb garden, yarrow will bring you beautiful flowers and amazing health benefits all in one pretty plant. In addition to being drought-resistant and a great attractor of butterflies, yarrow has powerful medicinal qualities dating back all the way to Ancient Greece.

Known as Achillea millefolium, yarrow is an herbaceous perennial native to Europe and Asia with distinct feathery foliage and clustered white flowers (though you can find them in other colours too).

But what about caring for a yarrow plant? I have good news for you! Yarrow is very carefree and will grow happily almost anywhere, making it a perfect plant for beginning herbalists and gardeners alike!

Below I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about growing and caring for yarrow plants, as well as their many benefits and uses.

This post will cover…

red and orange yarrow

Lori’s Green Blessing

This article was reviewed by herbalist Lori Snyder. This is not to be used as personal medical advice; always consult your health care professional for individual concerns.

Here is what Lori had to say about yarrow:
Yarrow is found in the circumpolar region of the globe as another subspecies, A.borealis. In the book Plants of Coastal British Columbia by Pojar and MacKinnon, we read that many Coast Salish People of the Pacific Northwest administered yarrow for various conditions that correlate with our Western Herbal Traditions, how interesting! 

Note only the white flower species Achillea millefolium is medicinal and this relationship with the human species dates back to the time of the Neandertral 40-60,000 years ago.  I remind the children that you can roll the fresh leaf/flower or use it dried between your fingers and stuff up the nose when it’s bleeding. It will stop immediately.

Yarrow has a very diverse nutritional profile so we can add it to tinctures in vinegar (I prefer apple cider vinegar), which is known to extract out the minerals to help support our endocrine system (hormones). 

Yarrow is known to help the liver cleanse out too many hormones in the system, can be used for facial steams, improve digestion, and we can also make a flower essence tincture. Flower essences help with our emotional health. Protecting oneself from within.  Know that I am a source of my own protection.

Caution do not use when pregnant or if you have allergies in the Asterceae family.

Yarrow Benefits

The yarrow plant has been used medicinally for thousands of years, back to Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt. Its versatility makes it a must-have in any herbalist’s collection, as its flowers, stalks, and leaves can all make teas, tinctures, and infusions. You can use the yarrow in your garden as a wound healer, aromatic bitter, fever breaker, and much more.

Many know yarrow as a wound healer. During WWI, medics used yarrow to treat soldiers’ wounds, earning it the nicknames Soldiers’ Woundwort and Nosebleed. It’s antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and can be used as an antiseptic and styptic to stop bleeding when made into a poultice.

Yarrow is also a handy plant to have saved during cold and flu season! It’s a widely used diaphoretic, which means it is a powerful fever breaker during those awful shakes when consumed as tea. If you’re congested, yarrow can also help encourage mucus elimination from the sinuses and aid with reducing inflammation.

Believe it or not, there are even more benefits. This powerful plant can also reduce urinary tract infections, relieve gastrointestinal distress, lessen menstrual cramps, and lower blood pressure.

All around, the yarrow is a must-have. Plus, who doesn’t want to see more ladybugs and butterflies in their garden come spring?

yellow yarrow

How to Plant Yarrow

The wild white flowered yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is what is used for medicinal purposes, but there are so many other vibrant colours available to add to your garden. Yarrow plants are often sold as potted perennials and then propagated by division. If you buy your yarrow as a plant with many stalks in one nursery pot, you can separate them into individual planters or into rows in your garden beds very easily.

First, lift the plant from its nursery pot. Gently remove excess dirt from its roots. Identify the individual stalks or clusters of plants that you want to divide. With a sharp, clean knife cut the sections of plants free from each other, leaving a good section of roots attached to each plant.

If you’re planting into a garden bed, space your plants 12 to 24 inches apart. Cover the root systems in new soil in a section of your garden that gets full sun.

red yarrow in a garden

Starting Yarrow from Seed

If you’ve bought yarrow as seeds to start yourself, you’ll want to start them somewhere from six to eight weeks before your last frost date. Sow your yarrow seeds in your regular potting soil. Barely cover them and mist them so that the soil is moist.

If you keep your seeds in a sunny, warm spot in your home (hello, windowsill!) you should see your seeds start to pop up within 14 to 21 days. If it’s a little chillier where you are and you’re worried about germination times, you can always cover the soil with some plastic wrap to trap in the heat and then remove the plastic once you see the seeds pop up.

When you go to move your seedlings into their permanent homes, they’ll thank you for going in well-draining soil. But, they aren’t picky plants! These plants will often grow even in dry soil.

orange yarrow

Yarrow Plant Care

Sun

Alright, you’ve started your yarrow and you’re ready to get them growing tall and beautiful! Yarrow needs full sun in order to thrive.

Water

If you live in a climate that gets less rainfall, don’t worry! Yarrow is very drought resistant and tends to survive dry spells.

Once you have your yarrow in the ground it needs very little maintenance. Unless you receive less than 1 inch of rain a week in the summer, you don’t need to water these plants hardly at all.

Fertilizer

If you’re hoping to see your yarrow spread, take it from me—these plants don’t need it! They are very hardy plants and will thrive without any fertilizer. However, if you are in a severe drought and see your plants start to wither, you can fertilize sparingly with water to keep them alive.

white yarrow

Pruning

Though yarrow needs very little maintenance, it’s smart to deadhead flowers when you see them fade partway through the summer. This gives your plants their best chance to grow another round of flowers before the season’s end.

It’s also important to note that yarrow plants are speedy growers and aggressive spreaders. They can grow to be 2 to 4 feet tall and will spread rapidly if left unwatched. Best to keep your eye on these plants, lest they take over your whole garden!

If you see them start to spread more than you’d like, you can dig up the new plants and share them with friends or transplant them to another area of your garden.

Common Issues

Lucky for us, yarrow is a very easy plant that usually stays free of disease. However, pests and diseases are inevitable in most gardens and some may find your yarrow attractive.

If you’re going to face issues with your yarrow, it is likely to be either botrytis mold or powdery mildew. Both of these look like spotting white powder covering the leaves of the yarrow. In both cases, the plant can be treated with natural pest control and you should see the problem clear up in no time.

Occasionally, you might see spittlebugs take up residence in your yarrow, but these little crawlers can be easily removed. You can remove them by hand, wipe up their foam, and drop the larvae into soapy water to dispose of them.

yellow yarrow plant

Harvesting

When you’re ready to harvest your yarrow, choose a warm, sunny day when the plants are in full bloom. This is very important! The flowers must be fully opened in order to harvest.

Once opened, check to make sure that any dew collected on the plant overnight has dried. Then, cut the stem of the plant with a sharp pair of scissors above a leaf node.

Frequently Asked Questions About Yarrow

What is Yarrow?

Yarrow is a flowering perennial plant known for its clustered flowers and a vast array of medicinal uses. It is commonly used to heal wounds and lower fevers and can be grown very easily in most gardens.

Where Do You Find Yarrow?

In the wild, yarrow can be found in sunny locations along roadsides, fields, and lawns throughout North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, and South America.

What is Yarrow Good For?

Yarrow is a powerful plant often used for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties both internally and externally. They can be brewed as tea, made into tinctures or infusions. Yarrow can also act as a styptic to stop bleeding and clean wounds.

Is Yarrow a Perennial?

Yarrow is a hardy, flowering perennial that can survive frost in the winter and bloom again in the warmer months. Once you’ve got them planted and well established in the growing months, you can rely on these plants to bloom again year after year.

orange and red yarrow

Let me know any other questions you may have about yarrow down below. Happy growing!

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