The Complete guide to Achillea (Yarrow Plant)

 These colourful plants are incredibly useful for growing in borders with other perennials. They add a horizontal accent to the whole layout of the border, breaking what might otherwise be a scene of hummocks or spikes.

Types Of Achillea Plants

Achilleas can roughly be broken into three types: upright, mounding and creeping. These refer to the shape and pattern they grow. When you buy achillea plants, mounding and creeping varieties tend to be in the minority. Many of the most colourful varieties yarrow plants originate from A. millefolium, a white to pale pink flowered plant found growing wild in fields and along verges where the soil can be very well-drained.

Left to right: Mounding Achillea 'Red Velvet', tall Achillea 'Coronation Gold', creeping Achillea ptarmica 'The Pearl', upright Achillea 'Terracotta'

When do Achillea Flowers Bloom?

These are perennials that bloom all summer until early autumn and has a composite flower head with 5 ray flowers and 10-30 disc flowers. These attractive plants bear the small, round, papery flowers in broad, flat heads. 

Each head is created from clusters of flowers borne on a short branch that branch out from near the top of a sturdy central stem. The blooms range in colour from pale yellow to rich magenta-red, with a few white varieties. The flowers on some of the brightest varieties will open one colour and gradually change to another as the small centre of the flowers get bigger, eventually giving the whole plant an attractive two-tone appearance.

Left to right: Achillea 'Walther Funcke', Achillea 'Pink Grapefruit', Achillea 'Lilac Beauty', Achillea taygetea

Achillea Leaves & Appearance  

The tall flower stems spring from a clump of pretty deeply divided leaves, which on some varieties can be so finely divided they look feathery. The leave colour ranges from grey or mid-green, and when crushed between the fingers, the leaves will emit a gentle aroma of thyme. A mature plant can grow up to 60cm tall.

Left to right: Achillea 'Paprika with Campanula 'Kent Belle', Achillea taygetea with short white Sanguisorba, Achillea millefolium (also called 'White Beauty) with Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Orange Field', Achillea 'Moonshine' in front of Gillenia trifoliata

Where Does the Achillea Come From?

Common yarrow plants are a native perennial to the UK, but many varieties are found all around Europe and western parts of Asia. The name Achillea comes from the mythical Greek warrior Achilles, who was said to use it to treat wounds.

Achillea Planting Guide

Where to Grow Achillea Plants

Most can be grown in the middle of smaller borders or towards the front of a large border that can cope with an edging plant that grows to about 45cm. Achillea 'Moonshine' and some of the shorter A. millifoliium types are perfect. Toward the back of a border grow 'Gold Plate' and 'Coronation Gold'. 

How to Plant Achillea

You can buy Achillea plants direct from our online nursery.  Yarrow is best planted or sown in spring, before summer arrives. To plant, dig a hole wider than the size of the pot but do not adjust the depth. They are relatively slow-growing, so don’t be surprised if they don’t grow much during the first year. 

Achillea Plant Care

Although easy to grow, the types with fluffy leaves such as Achillea 'Terracotta' and 'Pretty Belinda' may not be as long-lived as a 'Moonshine' variety in certain soils. I have grown this variety in the same spot with clay loam for quite a number of years.

If you have extremely well-drained soil, any yarrow plants should be fine. Once the flowers have faded after blooming all summer, the flower heads will stay attractive for most of the winter. 


You can leave the flower heads once they have finished blooming, but if they begin to look tatty, cut them off. You can prune down to the basal leaves in late fall to encourage new growth or additional blooms.


 Aphids like to feed on achillea, especially on young growth. It can also be targeted by powdery mildew in dry weather. 

What Flowers are Achillea Are Great With…

Achillea will grow in a sunny situation with well-drained soil, which means that the best plants to grow with them are those that like a similar condition. Hardy salvias are a great choice, the spikes of tiny flowers will compliment the flat-headed blooms of Achillea.

Perennials with daisy-shaped blooms like Helenium, Aster and Rudbeckia will start flowering at the same time as Achillea and continue long after the flowers have faded. hardy geraniums are another great option, especially shorter ones such as Geranium sanguineum types, which can be grown in front of Achillea and will enhance the whole border because the leaves are different in shape.

Browse Achillea

. Posted in A to Z of Perennials.

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