Inula Royleana
Midwest Gardening
Achillea

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Achillea, tough, hardy and undemanding

Achillea , also known as Yarrow or Sneezewort, is a very easy perennial to care for and a long blooming perennial.  They are tough plants that require very little attention, growing well in difficult conditions.  Some will spread rather aggressively, especially when grown in fertile soil.  Frequently deadheading spent blooms will discourage self seeding, and will also encourage reblooming.  Blooms are borne in flat clusters atop long stems.  The plants grow in upright clumps with narrow lance shaped leaves that are generally frilled at the edges.  The foliage, not the blooms, are aromatic. 

There are as many as 85 Achillea species, many have been cultivated and hybridized for garden use.  They prefer a medium textured soil with average fertility, but tolerate a range of soil conditions.  If soil is too fertile, the plant can become weak and floppy.  Achillea generally spread about 12-24” wide and they should be well spaced to allow good air circulation.  When grown in damp conditions with poor circulation they can be susceptible to fungal disease.  Divide every 2-3 years in spring or fall to maintain good plant health and reduce crowding.  Resistance to salt also makes yarrow and excellent choice for roadside plantings.  Most Yarrow are hardy in zones 3-8.

 

Yarrow are excellent for fresh arrangements or for drying.  To prolong the vase life for fresh arrangements, cut when the blooms are fully opened.  Several varieties are detailed on the following pages.

Achillea ptarmica ‘The PearlAchillea 'The Pearl' perennial

  • Common Name:  Yarrow / Sneezewort
  • Plant type:  Herbaceous perennial 
  • Height:  24-36”
  • Spread:  As allowed, up to 6 feet wide
  • Sun/Shade Requirements:  Full Sun
  • Water Requirements:  Drought tolerant, does not tolerate moist conditions
  • Soil Requirements:  Average to poor well drained soil
  • Growth Habit:  Upright and spreading
  • Bloom Time: Late spring through June or July
  • Bloom Color: Pure white
  • Bloom Form:  Small round double flowers
  • Foliage:  Green, lance shapedYarrow 'The Pearl' blooms by TANAKA
  • Fragrance:  Aromatic foliage
  • Pest and Disease Resistance:  Susceptible to root rot and powdery mildew in moist conditions.  Deer and rabbit resistant
  • Fertilize:  Apply a water soluble fertilizer every 2 weeks.  Over fertilizing increases foliage growth rather than blooms.
  • Maintenance:  Requires little attention
  • Other:  Salt tolerant, deer resistant, attracts butterflies.
  • Hardiness:  Zones 3-8

Many of the Achillea spread agressively, but ‘The Pearl’ will only fill as much space as you give it.  It establishes quickly.  To discourage spreading, frequently cut the blooms when most are fully open for vases.  This will encourage repeat blooming instead of the plant putting all it’s energy into spreading.  Do not cut until blooms are fully open to prolong vase life.  The blooms retain their brilliant white very well.

Rich soil, moist conditions and part shade may cause the usually strong stems to flop over.  Do not over water and allow as much air circulation as possible.  Will tolerate some shade, but does best in full sun.  Easily propagated from seed or cuttings.

‘The Pearl’s’ small round, pure white double blooms are borne on 3 to 4 foot stalks.  Remove spent blooms to encourage repeat blooms.  The flowers are excellent for cutting and drying.  Attracts butterflies.

Divide every 2-3 years in spring or fall to maintain good plant health and reduce crowding.  Resistance to salt also makes yarrow and excellent choice for roadside plantings.

 

Achillea clypeolata  ‘Coronation Gold’Achillea 'Coronation Gold' by Drew Avery

  • Common Name:  Yarrow / Sneezewort
  • Plant type:  Herbaceous perennial
  • Height:  30-36”
  • Spread:  30”
  • Sun/Shade Requirements:  Full sun
  • Water Requirements:  Drought tolerant, does not tolerate moist conditions
  • Soil Requirements:  Average to poor well drained soil
  • Growth Habit:  Upright, clump forming
  • Bloom Time:  June through July, longer if deadheaded
  • Bloom Color:  Golden yellow
  • Bloom Form:  Flat clusters of tiny blooms
  • Foliage:  Gray green, fernlike
  • Fragrance:  Spicy scented foliage
  • Pest and Disease Resistance:  Deer and rabbit resistant
  • Fertilize:  Apply a water soluble fertilizer every 2 weeks.  Over fertilizing increases foliage growth rather than blooms.
  • Maintenance:  Requires little attention
  • Other:  Salt tolerant, deer resistant, attracts butterflies.
  • Hardiness:  Zones 3-8

‘Coronation Gold’ displays the flat, tight clusters of upward facing blooms common to Achillea.  The golden yellow clusters are 3 - 4” wide and contrast nicely with gray green fernlike foliage.  ‘Coronation Gold’ blooms from June through July.  Cutting blooms for vases and removing spent blooms with their stems will encourage blooming into August and even September.

The foliage has a spicy scent, which will persist even when the flowers are cut and dried for arrangements.  A. clypeolata is a more compact plant than A. filipendulina.  ‘Coronation Gold’ is thought to be a cross between the two.  Although the stems are generally quite strong, taller plants may require staking, as will plants grown in part shade.  High winds and storms may topple the blooms in unprotected sites. 

‘Coronation Gold’ attracts butterflies, and resists deer and rabbits.  This yarrow is sterile and will not set seed.  The plant will spread up to 3 feet however, so divide every 3-5 years in spring or fall if you prefer to maintain size and to keep the plant growing vigorously.  Rich soil, moist conditions and part shade may cause the usually strong stems to flop over.  Resistance to salt also makes yarrow and excellent choice of perennial for roadside plantings.

 

Achillea millefolium ‘Ortel’s Rose’Achillea 'Oertel's Rose'

  • Common Name:  Yarrow / Sneezewort
  • Plant type:  Herbaceous perennial
  • Height:  12-24”
  • Spread:  2-4 feet
  • Sun/Shade Requirements:  Full sun
  • Water Requirements:  Drought tolerant, does not tolerate moist conditions
  • Soil Requirements:  Average to poor well drained soil
  • Growth Habit:  Upright, clump forming
  • Bloom Time:  June through July, longer if deadheaded
  • Bloom Color:  Pink
  • Bloom Form:  Flat loose clusters of tiny blooms
  • Foliage:  Deep green, fernlike
  • Fragrance:  Aromatic foliage
  • Pest and Disease Resistance:  Deer and rabbit resistant
  • Fertilize:  Apply a water soluble fertilizer every 2 weeks.  Over fertilizing increases foliage growth rather than blooms.
  • Maintenance:  Requires little attention
  • Other:  Attracts butterflies, deer resistant and salt tolerant
  • Hardiness:  Zones 3-8

‘Ortel’s Rose’ bloom color changes from vivid pink, to rose pink, and finally to pastel pink.  Blooms are displayed in the classic flat manner of most yarrows, but the blooms are somewhat loose in the cluster.  Cut flowers for arrangements or remove spent blooms with their stems to encourage blooming beyond June and July.  Achillea’s’ cut flowers are excellent for drying or accenting floral arrangements, holding their color well.

Achillea is a drought tolerant perennial and should not be grown in moist conditions.  Rich soil, moist conditions and part shade may cause the usually strong stems to flop over.  Resistance to salt also makes yarrow and excellent choice for roadside plantings.

‘Ortel’s Rose’ is one of the shorter varieties of achillea at about 12 - 24” and can spread somewhat aggressively.  ‘Ortel’s Rose’ should be divided every 4 or 5 years in either spring or fall to reduce spreading and maintain plant health.

 

Achillea millefolium ‘Paprika’Achillea 'Paprika'

  • Common Name:  Yarrow / Sneezewort
  • Plant type:  Herbaceous perennial
  • Height:  24-30”
  • Spread:  24-36”
  • Sun/Shade Requirements:  Full sun
  • Water Requirements:  Drought tolerant, does not tolerate moist conditions
  • Soil Requirements:  Average to poor well drained soil
  • Growth Habit:  Spreading, mat forming
  • Bloom Time:  June to September
  • Bloom Color:  Ruby Red
  • Bloom Form:  Flat clusters of tiny bloomsAchillea 'Paprika' by Lynn Gardner
  • Foliage:  Deep green, fernlike
  • Fragrance:  Strong spicy scented foliage
  • Pest and Disease Resistance:  Deer and rabbit resistant.  Susceptible to powdery mildew, and root or stem rot in moist conditions.
  • Fertilize:  Apply a water soluble fertilizer every 2 weeks.  Over fertilizing increases foliage growth rather than blooms.
  • Maintenance:  Requires deadheading and dividing to prevent aggressive spreading
  • Other:  Attracts butterflies.  Salt tolerant
  • Hardiness:  Zones 3-8

‘Paprika’ has large clusters of ruby red blooms with bright yellow centers.  As the bloom matures, the color fades to dusty red then pink, afternoon shade will reduce fading somewhat.  The millefolium tend to form a spreading mat rather than upright clumps of like the filipendulina.

Cut flowers for arrangements or remove spent blooms with their stems to encourage blooming beyond June and July.  Achillea’s’ cut flowers are excellent for drying or accenting floral arrangements, holding their color well.

Achillea is a drought tolerant perennial and should not be grown in moist conditions.  Rich soil, moist conditions and part shade may cause the usually strong stems to flop over.  Resistance to salt also makes yarrow and excellent choice for roadside plantings.

‘Paprika’ grows and blooms vigorously, forming a rich red mat of blooms in early spring.  But it spreads just as vigorously, forming a dense, sprawling mat that is ideal for ground cover.  The plants reproduce by underground rhizomes sending up new plants, and over time can spread to a substantial naturalized colony. ‘Paprika’ may also self seed if not routinely deadheaded, producing varying flower colors.  Should be divided every 3 to 5 years in either spring or fall to reduce spreading and maintain plant health and maintain good air circulation.

Achillea millefolium ‘Peachy Seduction’
Achillea Peachy Seduction flowers by the ordinary gardener

  • Common Name:  Yarrow / Sneezewort
  • Plant type:  Herbaceous perennial
  • Height:  23”
  • Spread:  23”
  • Sun/Shade Requirements:  Full sun
  • Water Requirements:  Drought tolerant, does not tolerate moist conditions
  • Soil Requirements:  Average to poor well drained soil
  • Growth Habit:  Upright and compact
  • Bloom Time:  June through July
  • Bloom Color:  Peach
  • Bloom Form:  Flat clusters of tiny blooms
  • Foliage:  Deep green, fernlike
  • Fragrance:  Fragrant foliage
  • Pest and Disease Resistance:  Deer and rabbit resistant.  Susceptible to powdery mildew, and root or stem rot in moist conditions.
  • Fertilize:  Apply a water soluble fertilizer every 2 weeks.  Over fertilizing increases foliage growth rather than blooms.
  • Maintenance:  Requires deadheading and dividing to prevent aggressive spreading
  • Other:  Attracts butterflies.  Salt tolerant
  • Hardiness:  Zones 4-8
Achillea Peachy Seduction by the ordinary gardener

The peachy pink flowers of ‘Peachy Seduction’ are borne in large clusters.  The plant is tall and sturdy with foliage that will resist disease even in humid regions.  Strong stems resist wind and heavy rains better than some of the taller Achillea millefolium.  If the plants to get beaten down, cut back to upright foliage.  And it loves the heat without wilting.  Deadhead to encourage additional blooming.  Divide every few years to keep the plant healthy.  ‘Peachy Seduction’ is part of a series that includes ‘Strawberry Seduction’ and ‘Sunny Seduction’.

Achillea millefolium ‘Pineapple Mango’
Achillea 'Pineapple mango' flower cluster by the ordinary gardener

  • Common Name:  Yarrow / Sneezewort
  • Plant type:  Herbaceous perennial
  • Height:  24”
  • Spread:  24”
  • Sun/Shade Requirements:  Full sun
  • Water Requirements:  Drought tolerant, does not tolerate moist conditions
  • Soil Requirements:  Average to poor well drained soil
  • Growth Habit:  Upright, compact
  • Bloom Time:  June through July
  • Bloom Color:  Pink maturing to salmon-yellow
  • Bloom Form:  Flat clusters of tiny blooms
  • Foliage:  Deep green, fernlike
  • Fragrance:  Fragrant foliage
  • Pest and Disease Resistance:  Deer and rabbit resistant.  Susceptible to powdery mildew, and root or stem rot in moist conditions.
  • Fertilize:  Apply a water soluble fertilizer every 2 weeks.  Over fertilizing increases foliage growth rather than blooms.
  • Maintenance:  Requires deadheading and dividing to prevent aggressive spreading
  • Other:  Attracts butterflies.  Salt tolerant
  • Hardiness:  Zones 4-8
Achillea 'Pineapple mango' by the ordinary gardener

‘Pineapple Mango’ blooms open to a rich pink and mature to a soft salmon yellow, and finally finish in a pale yellow.  The large flower clusters are ever changing and display a range of color across the plant.  Deadheading spent blooms will encourage additional blooming.  ‘Pineapple Mango’ will hold up very well in heat and humidity and the strong stems will withstand windy sites.  An upright vase shape makes this Achillea a great choice for containers with other shorter plants tucked in around it.  You may find this variety also called ‘Tutti Fruitti Pineapple Mango’.

Achillea millefolium ‘Summer Pastels
Achellea millefolium 'Summer Pastels' Yarrow blooms by the ordinary gardener

  • Common Name:  Yarrow / Sneezewort
  • Plant type:  Herbaceous perennial
  • Height:  18-23”
  • Spread:  18-27”
  • Sun/Shade Requirements:  Full sun
  • Water Requirements:  Drought tolerant, does not tolerate moist conditions
  • Soil Requirements:  Average to poor well drained soil
  • Growth Habit:  Upright
  • Bloom Time:  June to September, perhaps until frost
  • Bloom Color:  Mixed pastels
  • Bloom Form:  Flat clusters of tiny blooms
  • Foliage:  Deep green, fernlike
  • Fragrance:  Scented foliage, strong spicy
  • Pest and Disease Resistance:  Deer and rabbit resistant.  Susceptible to powdery mildew, and root or stem rot in moist conditions.
  • Fertilize:  Apply a water soluble fertilizer every 2 weeks.  Over fertilizing increases foliage growth rather than blooms.
  • Maintenance:  Requires deadheading and dividing to prevent aggressive spreading
  • Other:  Attracts butterflies.  Salt tolerant
  • Hardiness:  Zones 2-9
Achellea millefolium 'Summer Pastels' Yarrow by the ordinary gardener

The ‘Summer Pastels’ produces a variety of soft pastel shades including creamy yellow, pink, mauve, red and white.  The plant will often display a pastel pink with white eyes, but the color mix among a number of plants is unpredictable.  Deadheading will encourage additional blooming, but cut them instead for arrangements, there will be plenty!  Superb as a fresh or dried cut flower with a vase life of 7-10 days.  ‘Summer Pastels’ has a nice compact habit and has an exceptionally long bloom season.  It is very heat and drought tolerant but will benefit from some shade in hot regions.  The plants may sprawl in hot humid climates or in moist rich soils.  Divide in fall or early spring just as growth emerges from the soil.  Achillea is prone to spreading by seed and underground rhizomes, so plants can be thinned at the same time.  But ‘Summer Pastels’ is not as aggressive as many Achillea.  Grows easily from seed.

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