A dependable hardy perennial, with excellent architectural qualities. Varies in height and form, from low spreading mat forming plants too large tall specimens. It has a long flowering period from mid-summer onwards and will often flower longer if dead headed.
The brightly coloured flowers of most flat head varieties can be easily dried for indoor decoration. One of the best types for drying is A. filipendulina (shown right).
Greek tradition claims that Achillea originally sprang from the blood of the hero Achilles, who was killed at the siege of Troy.
Botanical Name: Achillea
Common Names: yarrow, sneezewort.
Foliage: Silver-grey or green, aromatic, foliage. Often ferny or finely dissected.
Flowers: Range of bright and pastel colours, depending on variety. Popular forms such as A. filipendulina have wide flat heads, packed with tiny flowers, that can reach 4in (10cm) across. Other forms have small button shaped flowers.
Flowering Period: June, July, August,
Soil: Moist but well-drained. Most varieties prefer lime but will also do well in acid conditions.
Conditions: Full sun, any aspect, exposed or sheltered.
Habit: Clump forming, spreading.
Type: Herbaceous perennial.
Hardiness: Most varieties are hardy in the UK.
Easy to grow herbaceous plant that likes any well-drained garden soil. Plant in full sun or semi-shade. Tolerates dry conditions. Do not plant in soil that can become waterlogged.
Plant pot grown plants from October to march in a sunny position, in a well drained soil. Best planted in groups of three or five to form a drift of colour.
Great for mixed borders and cottage gardens. Contrasts well with other herbaceous plants, especially if planted in mid-border drifts. Also good for wild and informal gardens and an ideal choice for gravel gardens or raised beds. Dwarf kinds are useful for the rock garden.
Most varieties provide good ground cover but some types can become invasive.
Most forms are good for cut flowers and drying.
Requires little attention once established. Dead-head regularly to extend flowering period. Staking is seldom necessary, except for very tall varieties in exposed areas.
Cut down to ground level in the autumn. Alternatively, you can leave the seed heads over-winter to form an architectural effect, then cut back in early Spring.
Generally trouble-free. Susceptible to attack by
aphids. Can be affected by powdery mildews.
Good for cutting and ideal for use as dried flowers if picked before fading begins. To dry, hang individual stems or small loose bunches, upside down in a cool, dark, dry airy place.
Sow seeds in the open in late spring or divide mature clumps when the plant is dormant, in early autumn or spring.
Short 1-3in (3-8cm ) softwood cuttings can be rooted in a cold frame or a propagator. However, don't let the foliage become over wet.
A wide variety of Achillea cultivars are available from tall to medium and dwarf heights. Colours range from bright and pastel shades in red, pink, yellow and white, depending on variety.
A. filipendulina (Caucasus) a tall variety with green, ferny leaves. Long-lasting yellow flowers, from June to September. Good for drying. Height 3-5ft (90cm-1.5m), spread 3ft (90cm).
A. filipendulina 'Coronation Gold' has dense flat heads of tiny yellow flowers. Evergreen, feathery grey-green leaves. Good for drying. Height: 3ft (90cm) Spread: 2ft (60cm).
A. millefolium (common yarrow) smallish white to cerise flower-heads from June to September. Dark green, pointed, deeply cut leaves. Height up to 3ft (90cm); spread 1.5ft (45cm).
A x 'Moonshine' silver grey toothed leaves topped with bright yellow flower heads in summer. Height 2ft (60cm); spread 1.5 ft (45cm). Good for cut flowers.
A. ptarmica 'The Pearl' clusters of double white button flowers, in loose heads, from July to August. Dark green saw-edged leaves. Height 2-3 ft. A. serrata is similar to A. ptarmica, but with single flowers.
A. sibirica (Alpine Yarrow) white or soft pink flowers in spring over green lanceolate foliage. Good ground cover. Attracts Beneficial insects Height: 18-24in; Spread 12-24in.
There are several low growing yarrows that are useful for areas of dry sandy soil or crevices between rocks:
A. argentea white flowers in spring over silvery leaves. Height 6in (15cm).
A. chrysocoma yellow flowers in spring over grey leaves. Height 6in (15cm).
A. tomentosa yellow flowers in spring over downy grey-green leaves. Good ground cover plant. Height 6in (15cm).
A x lewisii 'King Edward' ferny grey-green leaves topped by yellow flat flower heads. Height: 6in (15cm) Spread: 8 in (20cm)
A. clypeolata silvery woolly leaves covered by rich yellow flowers, June-August. Height 18in (20cm).