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Achillea Plant Growing & Care Guide for Gardeners

Article by Dean Ravenscroft, Ph.D. - Updated 18th Oct 2023

In this Gardener's HQ guide, we'll explore cultivating Achillea plants in your garden, indoor spaces, and other settings.

At a Glance
  • Plant Characteristics: Achillea plants have feathery foliage and clusters of dainty flowers. Their diverse color palette and butterfly-attracting properties make it a garden favorite.
  • Ideal Growing Conditions: Yarrow thrives in full sun and can handle a range of soil types, though well-draining soil is best. It's notably drought-resistant, echoing its native European habitats.
  • General Care: Minimal watering is required once established. Deadheading spent flowers promotes prolonged blooming.
  • Tips for New Gardeners: Yarrow is hardy and forgiving, perfect for those just starting their gardening journey. However, they can spread enthusiastically, so control and division may be necessary.

Yarrow, and Sneezewort: Cultivation & Garden Use

The common names for the Hardy perennials Achillea are Sneezewort and Yarrow.

Achillea typically flower from late spring to early Autumn. Visit this page for specific information on growing Achillea millefolium in your garden.

Picture of Yarrow

Description of Achillea

Yarrow and other Achillea make ideal border plants and are great as part of a meadow garden. They are large plants, ranging from between 15 and 120 cm in height.

Achillea plants have soft feathery leaves, and tiny densely packed flowers of either pink or yellow.

How to Grow Achillea Species such as Yarrow

It is best to plant Yarrow and other Achillea seeds on the soil surface at about 30 to 60 cm (1 to 2 feet) apart

Sow in the early spring, as a frost is required to break seed dormancy, or in the early autumn.

Plants like light and should be grown in full sunlight.

They are capable of growing in poor soil, but ideally should be planted in a loam at a pH of 5.5 to 7.

If growing the plant indoors it should be sown 10 weeks before planting out. They should be put outside in early spring or late autumn.

Achillea requires light, and between 10 and 100 days for germination to occur, at a temperature of 15 to 18 degrees Celsius (59 to 64°F).

Caring for Achillea

Achillea are very easy plants to care for. They require to be cut back in the autumn, and divided every four years to maintain healthy growth.

Commonly Grown Achillea Plants

Achillea millefolium

Achillea millefolium
Achillea millefolium (Yarrow) photograph by FreePhotoFun, CC

Achillea fillipendulina (Fern-leaf Yarrow)

Achillea fillipendulina

Achillea fillipendulina photograph by Evelyn Simak, CC.

Achillea tomentosa (Woolly Yarrow)

Achillea tomentosa

Achillea tomentosa photograph by Ghislain118.

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Achillea Growing and Care Guide

  • Common Names: Yarrow (Common), Sneezewort, Bloodwort, plumajillo, All heal.
  • Life Cycle: Hardy perennial.
  • Height: 6 to 48 inches (15 - 120 cm).
  • Native: Europe, Asia, North America.
  • Growing Region: Zones 3 to 10.
  • Flowers: Late spring through to early autumn.
  • Flower Details: Yellow, Pink, white, orange, red. Small ray/disks. Flat-topped clusters.
  • Foliage: Frilly. Feathery. Aromatic. Fragrance of common Yarrow is similar to that of chrysanthemums
  • Sow Outside: Seeds: Surface. Start of spring - before the last frost, or the beginning of autumn.
  • Sow Inside: Germination time: one week to three months in the light. Temperature: 60 – 70°F (15—21°C). Ten weeks in advance. Transplant outdoors before the last light frost or early in autumn. Space at 12 to 24 inches (30—60 cm).
  • Requirements and care: Full sunlight. Soil pH 5.5 to 7. Most soils; loam for best results. Can survive in dry soils. Provide support for taller varieties. Cut back to the ground in autumn. As some species are short-lived they should be divided every second year in the spring to maintain vigor. Propagate: by dividing once they have finished flowering.
  • Family: Asteraceae (Compositae).
  • Closely Related Aster family members to this genus include: False Chamomile; Ox-eye Daisy; Pot Marigold; Safflower; and Moroccan Chamomile.
  • Miscellaneous: Can be used as a dried flower in displays, cut flowers should be hung upside down in a dry place until ready. Named after Achilles (of heel fame), as it was used to treat his soldier’s wounds. Used in olden times as an astringent to staunch the flow of blood from wounds. Attracts many moths and butterflies to the gardens including leaf miners, Pugs, and case bearers. Spreads from its rhizomes. May become invasive in some areas under favorable conditions.

Achillea Species specific pages


       Achillea filipendulina   |   Yarrow coronation gold

       Achillea millefolium   |   Yarrow lansdorferglut

Common Questions

How many members does the Achillea genus have?

The Achillea genus has about 85 species. They are commonly known as yarrow.

Do members of Achillea make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Yes, Achillea species are excellent for gardens and landscapes. They are drought tolerant and attract beneficial insects.

Which Achillea species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

Among the most popular are Achillea millefolium (Common Yarrow) and Achillea filipendulina (Fernleaf Yarrow).

Are members of the Achillea fragrant?

Yes, many species of Achillea have a distinctive, often strong, aroma when the leaves are crushed.

What is the perfect location to grow Achillea?

Achillea thrives in full sun with well-drained soil. It is a good choice for a dry, sunny area.

Is Achillea invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Achillea millefolium (Common Yarrow) is considered invasive in some parts of the USA, especially the Midwest and West.

How do I remove Achillea from my garden?

Uproot the entire plant including the root system. Any left roots can result in regrowth. Repeat removal if needed.

Summary

Achillea Genus: Growth and Habitat

The Achillea genus, commonly known as Yarrow, encompasses perennial herbs with aromatic foliage and clusters of small flowers. Native to temperate regions, they are adaptable and can grow in various soil types. Achillea plants thrive in full sun and are drought-tolerant once established. They require minimal maintenance and are often used in wildflower gardens and meadows. With their vibrant colors and attractive blooms, Achillea species are popular among pollinators like butterflies and bees.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Achillea plants. You may also enjoy the following Aster family growing guides: How to grow Wild artichoke, Achillea filipendulina, and Zinnia angustifolia plants.

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