Achillea is a joy to the gardener for its undemanding adaptive nature and its eagerness to perform abundantly throughout the summer. Very easy to grow, they produce flowers in abundance from spring to first frosts.
'Colorado Mix' produces clusters of flowers in warm shades of pink, red, yellow, white and apricot. It is a compact variety growing to 60 to 72cm (24 to 30in) tall at maturity. The narrow fern-like, mid-green to grey-green foliage will soften your perennial border and the plants are suitable for pots or containers. The flowers are as gorgeous dried as they are fresh.
Achillea are traditional hardy perennial border flowers, they are valued for their feathery foliage and striking flat, circular heads of flowers that grow to 15cm (6in) across. The flower heads are long lasting, blooming throughout the main summer season and highly attractive to bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects.
They are tolerant of poor soil conditions, but do well in dry to medium wet, well-drained soil. They team well with other perennial flowers and are a vital ingredient of a traditional herbaceous border, blooming faithfully year after year.
Sowing: February to June or September to October.
Sow the seeds on the surface of lightly firmed, moist seed compost in pots or trays. Cover seed with only a light sprinkling of compost or vermiculite as light aids germination. Water from the base of the tray, Place in a propagator or warm place, ideally at 15 to 20°C (59 to 68°F). Keep the compost moist but not wet at all times. Germination 5 to 10 days.
Prick out each seedling once it has its first set of “true” leaves and transplant into 7.5cm (3in) pots containing free-draining compost and grow them on in frost free conditions until large enough to plant outside. Plant out in well drained soil in full sun.
Gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10 to 15 days before planting out after all risk of frost has passed. Overwinter autumn sown plants in frost-free conditions before planting out the following spring. Plant 30 to 60cm apart.
Transplant to full sun and light soil; if the soil is rich, the stems get floppy. The plants dislike wet ground, particularly during winter. Improve heavy soil conditions by adding coarse grit or sharp sand prior to planting.
Achillea is a very easy plant to care for and once established is reasonably drought tolerant. In summer, stake the flower stems of tall varieties with canes or brushwood before the flowers appear to prevent them drooping in wet weather.
Blooming is prolonged by regular removal of faded flower stems. Cut down to the ground in late winter, but resist the urge to do this earlier, as the seed heads look lovely in the winter light. Lift and divide large clumps in late autumn or early spring.
In very heavy soils cut flowering stems off at ground level in late September to early October to allow the plants to bulk up at the base and thereby get through the winter more easily.
Cut when the flowers are well open but before the oldest flowers on the stem start to show signs of browning. Rain can damage the quality of the flowers, so cut back poor quality stems and wait for a second flush.
To dry, hang upside down in a warm (not hot) place with good air circulation. Drying too fast at high temps can cause browning, but drying too slowly may result in colour loss on the stems and leaves and give a less fresh appearance.
Coastal, Cottage/Informal Garden, Flower Arranging, Borders and Beds, Dry or Gravel Garden, Prairie Planting, Wildlife Gardens. Low Maintenance.
In the garden, yarrow is said to increase the health of nearby plants and will intensify the flavour of herbs grown near it. It is also a good compost activator.
Its flowers attract many beneficial insects, including ladybirds and parasitic wasps that prey on garden pests, in particular aphids. Ants do not like the smell; crushed leaves can be used as a deterrent.
Several cavity-nesting birds, including the common starling, use yarrow to line their nests. Experiments suggest that adding yarrow to nests inhibits the growth of parasites.
Achillea is used for making natural dyes and will give a range of yellow, tan and green colours.
Yarrow has a great medieval herbal history, and has been used in medicine and magic for centuries.
It was commonly used to flavour beer before the introduction of hops, and it still flavours vermouth and bitters.
Yarrow was used by the Chinese as a herb of divination, the I Ching was originally thrown not with coins but with dried yarrow stalks.This plant has often been a device for divining the identity of one's future lover.
In the past, yarrow was used as a protectant. It was strewn across the threshold to keep out evil and worn to protect against hexes. It was tied to an infant's cradle to protect it from those who might try to steal its soul. The Saxons wore amulets made of this plant to protect against blindness, robbers, and dogs….among other things!
Achillea millefolium is a flowering plant in the family Asteraceae, native to Europe and Asia, it is found throughout the Northern Hemisphere to an elevation of 3,500m. It has flourished in North America due to its ability to withstand drought.
Named by Linnaeus, its name is said to derive from Achilles. Homer’s hero in the Iliad, who was well-trained in healing wounds as well as in causing them. He was reputed to have used it to staunch the bleeding wounds of his soldiers.
Yarrow has been used for thousands of years to staunch the flow of blood and for other medical purposes, In antiquity, yarrow was known as herbal militaris or soldier’s herb, nosebleed plant, and soldier’s woundwort.
The species name millefolium and other common names such as milfoil, thousand-leaf and thousand-seal, refer to its feathery leaves which are arranged spirally on the stems.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 100mg Average Seed Count 600 seeds Family Asteraceae Genus Achillea Species millefolium Cultivar Colorado Mix Common Name Yarrow, Milfoil Other Common Names Thousand-leaf or Thousand-seal. Other Language Names Achillee millefeuille Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers Pink, red, yellow, white and apricot Natural Flower Time May to August Foliage Dark green, finely divided, fern-like leaves Height 60 to 72cm (24 to 30in) Spread 45cm (18in) Position Full sun preferred Soil Well-drained/light, Moist, Sandy Time to Sow February to June or September to October. Germination 5 to 10 days at 15 to 20°C (59 to 68°F).