Yarrow - Achillea millefolium


Perennial herbaceous plant widespread in Euroa and Asia, in Italy it can also be found as a wild plant, but in the garden often hybrid varieties or cultivars with particular flowers are cultivated. It is a fairly vigorous perennial, which in spring gives rise to thick bushes, even 100-150cm high; the stems are thin, erect, rigid, and bear numerous large, finely divided, dark green, very jagged leaves. In summer, at the apex of the stems, numerous small flowers bloom, united in umbrella-shaped corymbs; the flowering is very abundant, and lasts a few weeks, sometimes the plants repeat the flowering in autumn. The flowers of the species are white or pink, but there are numerous cultivars, with pink, red or even yellow flowers, and some varieties with double flowers. To favor the duration of flowering and the second flowering it is good to remove the withered flowers. Very suitable for informal flower beds, it can also be used as a background plant in flower beds of roses or annual plants.
Some form dense clumps, others quickly expand thanks to the stoloniferous roots, threatening to become invasive.
The leaves are alternate, aromatic, green or gray with smooth or divided edges, similar to those of ferns. The stems, usually rigid, carry generally very small flowers, gathered in large inflorescences mostly flat. They are available in many different shades: white, yellow, pink, orange, red, lilac, brown and in some cases it happens that with aging there are significant changes, thus creating interesting contrast effects.


The yarrow is a perennial herbaceous, with sometimes woody stem, which is part of the Asteraceae family. It is spontaneous throughout Europe, especially in meadows and in hilly and mountainous habitats. 11 species are endemic to Italy. However, the genus includes more than a hundred, most of them originating from our continent or Asia. It is known and appreciated since ancient times for its many medicinal virtues.
It takes its name from the Achilles warrior who learned from his teacher Chiron to use it to promote wound healing. For the language of flowers, depending on the sources, it means "healing", but also "I want to love despite everything".
The yarrow in the garden
It is a herbaceous of simple cultivation, but extremely graceful and useful. It is almost never a protagonist, but rather a protagonist, indispensable though to make a whole border harmonious and interesting, thanks to the very wide range of colors, its feathery leaves and its light habit.
In the United Kingdom, home of the mixed border, they have always been highly regarded. Lately they are spreading more and more in our country because they combine a long flowering with very limited cultivation treatments. Moreover, some species in particular are particularly suitable for dry and poor soils and do not fear drought. This features make it invaluable for green spaces with low environmental impact.

Family and gender
Asteraceae, gen. yarrow, about 100 species
Type of plant Perennial herbaceous lively
Rusticitа Very rustic
Exposure Full sun (some half-shade)
Ground Generally poor and dry, some reads wet
colors White, pink, yellow, red, orange, brown
Irrigation Only in the event of prolonged drought
Flowering From May to October
Composting Light in the spring


Generally the achillee prefer sunny positions, developing without problems even in semi-shaded places, provided they receive at least 4-5 hours of direct sunlight every day. They do not fear the cold.
Because they bloom well, with continuity and do not incur radical asphyxia, it is important that they are positioned in full sun. Generally 6 hours of sunshine a day are sufficient to get good results.


They are satisfied with the rains and can easily withstand periods of prolonged drought; it is advisable, however, to water the young plants recently placed at home, especially during very hot and dry periods. In the spring spread at the foot of the bushes a slow release granular fertilizer for flowering plants.
The well-stamped plants generally do not need interventions, it is even preferable to leave them rather dry since one of the few causes of death is root rot.

Yarrow cultivation

As we have said, cultivation is quite simple. We need only to respect the needs of each individual species.


The cultivation soil must be well drained, even stony or sandy, so that the water flows easily and does not stagnate, damaging the roots.
In general, they prefer dry and poor soils, even sandy or slightly calcareous. An indispensable condition to see them thrive and live long is to provide an excellent drainage. If our soil is too clayey and compact it will be good to work it for a long time by absorbing a good quantity of coarse river sand.
Some species also grow well on stony ground or between gravel and therefore adapt wonderfully to the rock garden.
Some varieties (especially those with green leaves such as filipendulina) prefer slightly heavier and cooler soils instead. However, we refer to the more detailed indications.


it occurs by seed, in late summer or at the end of winter in seedbeds. The young plants are planted when they are at least 20-30 cm tall.

Pests and adversities

They suffer from the attack of aphids and mites. The yarrow is sensitive above all to powdery mildew.
If some dusty white spots appear on the leaves it will be good to cut the plant at ground level to stimulate the birth of new healthy ones. We prevent avoiding wetting them during irrigation and ensuring good air circulation.
Other possible enemies are aphids. Their presence is noted because they cause leaf frills or on new jets. In the case of severe attacks we use insecticides based on natural pyrethrins


They are all very rustic and some can even be grown even at an altitude of 1500 meters.
If we want to preserve them the best we can mulch the area with leaves or straw, especially if we live in cold areas and we have planted seedlings in the autumn months.


Mostly they prefer poor soils. We can distribute a small amount of granular fertilizer for flowering plants in early spring.


Planting can be done in spring or autumn. The first option is preferable for those who live in areas with rather mild winters: when the warm weather arrives, the plants will already be quite autonomous and will have both better vegetative growth and copious flowering.
Where winters are rather harsh it is good to proceed at the end of February.
However, generally, perennial jars are sold at the beginning of the vegetative growth and, consequently, for many there is no choice.
To have a nice full effect it is good to plant from 4 to 6 individuals per square meter.

Crop care

These are less demanding herbaceous plants. We will have to limit ourselves to removing the withered flowers so that the plant is stimulated to produce others: in this way we will also avoid an excessive self-dissemination that, at times, makes it invasive (especially the millefolium).
At the end of the winter all the dry will have to be removed to stimulate the new production of leaves and stems.
The division should take place, around March, usually every 3-5 years, when the tufts are too compact or risk invading spaces dedicated to other essences.

Varieties and cultivars

Achillea millefolium It is cultivated since the sixteenth century and is widespread throughout Europe and Asia, up to Siberia and the Himalayas. It grows in meadows and on country and mountain trails, even at high altitudes.
It is a creeping plant, slightly velvety, stoloniferous, with simple or branched erect stems. The leaves are alternate, composed of about 20 deep green segments.
It thrives in dry soils, resists cold well, but grows well even when the summers are torrid. The cut of exhausted inflorescences encourages flowering, which can last all summer. At most, it reaches a meter in height, although it is usually around 60 cm.
Many hybrids have been created and some are really invaluable for gardens. Some have flowers of varying colors over time, others are characterized by silver foliage useful for illuminating the borders.
Here are some interesting cultivars:


First name



Height in cm
Appleblossom rose silvery 90
Belle Epoque First pink, then yellow  100
Cerise Queen Dark pink  60
fanal First bright red, then dark yellow  60
Marmelade Orange and yellow  40
Terracotta Orange yellow, then cream Greyish green 90
Heidi Rose, then white  60
Lilac Beauty lilac  70

Ptillery achillea spread throughout Europe and most of Asia. It grows in damp places, in swamps and in ditches. It is a slightly woody plant at the base, with an erect stem. The leaves are alternate, minutely serrated, pelosette. The inflorescences are umbrella-shaped, composed of 3 to 15 flowers, with white ligules. In cultivation there are also double cultivars. Love the half-shade and the moist soil.

First name



Height in cm
ballerina White, double  40
Schneeball Double whites  90
Perry's white Double few 90

Achillea filipendulina species native to the Caucasus and Asia Minor. It has rigid, erect stems, with alternate leaves and divided into about twenty segments on each side, very aromatic. The flower heads are gathered in thick regular umbrellas of about 15 cm in diameter with small, lemon-yellow ligules. It can reach 1, 50 m in height and blooms from mid-summer to October. He wants a rich and slightly moist soil. The cultivars are very vigorous and have large flowers, also suitable for cutting or to be dried and become part of pots-pourris.

First name



Height in cm
Cloth of gold Cloth of gold  170
Gold plate Flat inflorescences  150
Parker's variety Rounded inflorescences Not branched 140
Christines Pink rose  60-70
Heinrich Vogeler White  80

Sycamore Yarrow beautiful for the effect of its foliage. The leaves are without petiole, toothed and dark green. The inflorescences are very dense, pure white or suffused with pink.
Achillea nobilis deeply divided oval leaves. Similar to the millefolium but more refined in the habit
Achillea x kolbiana beautiful silvery foliage.

Yarrow - Achillea millefolium: Yarrow as an aromatic and medicinal plant

The achillea millefolium has always been harvested to become part of decoctions, herbal teas or even for distillation. The aroma and taste are very sweet and delicate, rather similar to those of chamomile.
It is very common to find it in mountain meadows. Both the leaves and the inflorescences are collected.
It is the most commonly sought for medicinal purposes. To obtain the active ingredient, the achilleine, the aerial parts are collected and dried in the sun. It is then used for the treatment of problems related to blood circulation, because it acts as an antispasmodic of the vascular system, and to influence the digestive function of the liver.
In any case, also the pith-acacia and the moschata are used quite frequently.
The first can also be eaten raw, mixed with salad, which gives it a particular spicy flavor.
The second, reduced to powder, is used to obtain effective herbal teas against respiratory diseases.