Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is an herbaceous perennial wildflower in the aster family (Asteraceae). Yarrow is native to North America and offers a range of benefits to any garden. This widespread plant can be found coast to coast, from Canada throughout the United States and south into Mexico.
The many benefits of yarrow include its highly adaptable nature and willingness to grow in diverse habitats, including ornamental gardens, open fields, roadsides, prairies, and open woodlands.
Growing yarrow is fairly straightforward, and has many benefits!
The native yarrow bears white flowers. As its popularity has grown, plant breeders have developed many colorful varieties with yellow, red, pink, purple, and orange flowers. There are even bi-color flowers that really stand out with their showy blooms. The leaves are finely cut, frilly, and somewhat fernlike, starting out as a basal rosette and growing along stems that reach 2 to 3 feet tall.
For the home gardener, yarrow is very versatile and useful. You can grow it in a raised bed, container garden, perennial flower bed, herb garden, and even as a companion plant in your vegetable garden. You only need a location with partial to full sun and average-quality, dry to medium moisture soil. It doesn’t require special care to keep it growing, just a little maintenance to keep it from spreading too much.
Perhaps you already have this flower in your garden or are considering adding a few native plants. If you are looking for more reasons to love yarrow, keep reading to learn about 11 yarrow benefits that will convince you to grow it in your garden.
Easy To Grow and Low-Maintenance
Periodically thinning your patch is essential for maintaining its neat and tidy appearance.
Here are two benefits rolled into one. Yarrow is both easy to grow and low-maintenance. All you have to do is plant this native species, and it will grow. Immediately after transplanting and until it becomes established, water it well to help it become established in its new location.
Once it starts to grow, you can enjoy it without worrying about adding extra water or fertilizer, as this hardy plant can mostly take care of itself. It is also hardy and not typically bothered by many pests or diseases.
Low maintenance is not the same as no maintenance, however. Once it starts to grow, it will grow fairly rapidly. Every few years, your yarrow patch will benefit from some periodic thinning to help it stay tidy. Prevent crowding by pulling extra plants from the ground.
You can do an annual thinning each spring or periodically throughout the year, whichever fits best into your gardening schedule. If you dig out some plants with their roots intact, you can easily transplant them to new locations or share them with your gardening friends.
Yarrow thrives in perennial flower gardens, making it a perfect fit for your landscape.
If you have a perennial flower garden, yarrow will be at home in your landscape. You won’t need to keep planting it year after year. If you establish one plant, you will soon have a small patch of attractive foliage and flowers. There are varieties native to the United States, Europe, and Asia, as well as numerous cultivars. All are easy to grow and will return year after year for your gardening enjoyment.
If you specifically want beneficial native plants from North America, plant the common species, Achillea millefolium, or one of its regional variants. Most of them have white flowers and look very similar to each other. The colorful cultivars are derived from these native species but come in various beautifully colored flowers.
Attracts Beneficial Insects
Increase the population of pollinators and beneficial insects in your veggie garden by interspersing yarrow throughout the area.
Yarrow is a fantastic flower for attracting pollinators and beneficial insects. It has a long blooming period and may produce flowers from late spring through fall. Butterflies, bees, and many other insects will come to visit the flowers. To benefit native insects, growing a few yarrow plants in your landscape is a solid choice.
This is a great plant for any pollinator-friendly garden, particularly for a lively and active assortment of colorful insects. Your vegetable garden also needs pollinators to help the plants produce fruits.
Companion plant this flower around your veggie garden to increase the populations of beneficial insects in the area. These insects will provide pest-repellant and pollination services to most crops. Beneficial insects include predators that eat insect pests.
Xeriscaping is the practice of using drought-tolerant plants to create a complete landscape.
Are you looking for plants that don’t need regular watering? Yarrow is a lovely xeriscape plant that is well-adapted to dry conditions. Once established, you may never have to water it, which is pretty handy because it saves you time, water, and money.
You can create an entire landscape using drought-tolerant plants (a practice called xeriscaping), and you don’t only have to plant cacti.
Many species of plants grow deep taproots or extensive root networks and many other adaptations to prepare them for dry conditions. Many xeriscape plants also make excellent pollinator plants and would look great in a tidy rock garden or a more natural-looking cottage garden.
Resistant to Rabbits and Deer
Yarrow’s deer-resistant quality is a standout feature that appeals to numerous gardeners.
One feature that helps make yarrow very attractive to many gardeners is its deer resistance. Neither deer nor rabbits seem fond of it and will typically leave it alone. You won’t need to worry about installing extra fencing or spraying your plants with deer-repellent to protect your yarrow from hungry local herbivores.
Since deer and rabbits don’t like yarrow, you can try interspersing it with plants they do like. You may deter some mammals by doing this, but you won’t stop them from eating your other plants. Still, the more “unappetizing” plants you grow in your garden, the harder it will be for the deer and rabbits to find the plants they like the best.
Beautiful Ground Cover
Despite not being a vine and not creeping along the ground, this native plant is an efficient ground cover.
Yarrow isn’t a vine and doesn’t creep along the ground, but it still makes a very effective ground cover. It spreads fairly quickly by seeds and rhizomes. If you grow a single plant, you will notice that each year, it spreads out into a larger and larger cluster, eventually forming a tight colony of vegetation.
Most of the leaves grow low on the plant, forming dense leafy basal rosettes. The rosettes will cover the ground with attractive foliage as the plants spread. This will form a nice clump, and the dense vegetation will also help prevent weeds from springing up around them.
This native flower tolerates various soil conditions, such as dry and periodically wet soils.
Yarrow grows fairly fast, it spreads to form colonies, and the roots create dense networks near the soil surface. It also tolerates many soil conditions, including dry soil and periodically wet soil. All of this means that these plants can help control erosion.
If you have a bare slope where the soil is starting to wash away, try growing a patch of yarrow. The roots will help hold the soil together and look great while they do it.
With so many beautiful cultivars, yarrow, a small to medium-sized perennial, offers many options.
If you think yarrow is common and boring, think again. There are some very colorful yarrow flowers in the form of popular cultivars. Native varieties tend to be white, but growers have introduced flowers with various shades of red, pink, purple, orange, and yellow.
Yarrow leaves, flower shapes, and flower colors will vary from one cultivar to the next, but they are all easily recognizable as varieties of yarrow.
The leaves are somewhat frilly and fernlike. Flowers grow in dense clusters atop taller leaf-lined stems. Yarrow is a small to medium-sized perennial. With so many beautiful cultivars available, it is a versatile addition to your flower garden.
Yarrow benefits the soil for plants with high nutritional needs, enriching it effectively.
Companion planting is an excellent gardening concept. Companion plants are two (or more) different species of plants that, when grown together, can benefit each other. Yarrow makes a great companion plant for herbs, fruits, vegetables, and other flowers.
Grow yarrow near your eggplants, beans, spinach, tomatoes, basil, cabbages, and broccoli, to name just a few. It can help enrich the soil around plants that are heavy feeders.
This herb will also attract pollinators and even repel some insect pests. You can grow it as an annual or perennial and easily transplant it to wherever it’s most needed, whichever method is most convenient for your gardening style.
Natural Soil Enrichment
Accumulating nutrients in its roots, yarrow can transport them to the surface.
Growing yarrow in the garden can have a surprising benefit. Not only are these plants easy to grow, beautiful, and great for attracting beneficial insects, but they can also be used to help enrich the soil. How does this work?
Some anecdotal evidence shows that vegetables grown near yarrow can produce more robust annual harvests if they don’t directly compete for light and space. But for a more reliable and scientifically-proven option, at the end of the season, you can mow the patch, shred the biomass, and return it to the garden as a fully organic mulch that will break down and help to enrich the soil further.
During late spring through fall, this native flower will experience various blooming phases, attracting pollinators throughout the season.
If all these reasons to grow yarrow aren’t enough, remember that this flower is beautiful! The plants are very attractive with their silvery-green foliage. The flowers are colorful and showy and look great throughout the growing season.
In the spring, you can enjoy the showy foliage. From late spring through fall, your plant may go through different blooming phases and attract pollinators. Enjoy their masses of flowers in the garden, and if you like cut flowers, you also can cut them and bring them inside because they make great cut flowers and work well in mixed flower arrangements.
If you don’t already have yarrow growing in your garden, you now know 11 more reasons why you may want to consider adding this plant to your landscape. This perennial flower has many uses, looks great in almost any garden setting, and is extremely easy to grow.
Use it in a pollinator garden, grow it in a container garden, incorporate it into a companion planting, or use it as a ground cover. Be prepared for beautiful foliage, flowers, pollinator visitors, and plenty of vibrant and healthy plants!