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Hardy Yarrow

December 9, 2016 Back to Picks >

If you want blooms without bother, yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is the one for you. The flower stalks rise to 2-3 feet with a flat cluster (umbel) of tiny flowers in a wide range of colors. Yarrow has finely cut deep green leaves that grow densely and remain through the winter. It is a hardy perennial everywhere in Texas.

Like most herbs, yarrow is happiest with moist well-drained soil with full sun. However I have also grown it in the shallow root space around the base of large deciduous trees. It is also thriving in a six-inch gap between our backyard fence and landscaping timbers. If you have a spot where nothing much grows – and who doesn’t? – try planting yarrow.

Yarrow flowers can decorate more than your garden. Cut the flower stalks and give them a quick shower under the garden hose to dislodge nectar loving insect hitchhikers. The cut stalks can be added to fresh flowers. You can also hang them upside down and dry them for everlasting arrangements.

Yarrow requires little maintenance. After it flowers in late summer to early fall, clip the stalks and leaves back to about 4-6 inches high. This tidies your garden beds and reduces places for pests to over-winter. When grown in favorable conditions yarrow can be a somewhat invasive perennial herb that propagates by runners. Keep these under control by firmly yanking them out when they stray too far in your garden bed.

This flowering herb was named after Achilles, the hero of Greek epic tales, who gathered it to treat battlefield wounds. The crushed leaves are still sometimes used as an emergency dressing to staunch bleeding. Yarrow has also been used medicinally in a tea to combat colds and fever.