Unlike any other plant in the garden, Achillea millefolium (a-KIL-lee-uh mill-ee-FOH-lee-um), or yarrow, of the Aster family, Asteraceae, is an excellent plant for introducing reliable, long-lasting color and natural texture into sunny spaces.
Native to temperate regions of Asia and Europe and naturalized in North America, Achillea, named for Achilles who is said to have carried the plant to treat the wounds of his army, is a rugged plant, tolerant of poor soils, road salt, and drought, and resistant to deer and rabbit feeding. Spreading gently by rhizome to form lush mounds of soft green foliage, Achillea have aromatic feather-like, minutely fringed leaves with fine hairs along their length, or in the case of Achillea ‘Moonshine,’ nearly white foliage in sharp contrast to its bright yellow blooms. Mature plants grow between 12-24” round, with the true species occasionally topping 36” in height with white blooms.
One of the longest blooming perennials for sunny spaces, yarrow bloom from late spring through fall, best when regularly deadheaded to encourage reblooming and to keep foliage dense and full. Yarrow should also be divided every few years to keep plants tidy and full of blooms, and to avoid bare centers. Above their foliage, Achillea produce corymbs of blooms, each structure consisting of 10-40 small yellow disc flowers, as well as many small, scalloped ray flowers (petals), giving them their beautiful blooming color. After late season blooms have faded, seedheads can be left for winter interest and wildlife.
Perfect for sunny beds, natural-style gardens, pollinator gardens, water-wise gardens, as well as boulevard plantings, and excellent as cut flowers, yarrow thrive in areas of full sun with well-drained soil, intolerant of consistently wet conditions. Numerous cultivars are available, including the early blooming, compact ‘Desert Eve Red’ and ‘Desert Eve Yellow,’ the soft orange of ‘Desert Eve Terracotta,’ and the lovely white blooms of ‘New Vintage White.’