Achillea Millefolium, Yarrow: Important Addition To Your Herb Garden

Achillea Millefolium

Photo Compliments of Shihmei Barger

Achillea millefolium, commonly called common yarrow, or milfoil, is a rhizomatous, spreading, upright to mat-forming perennial. Common yarrow is a species of plants noted for producing deeply-dissected, fern-like, aromatic, medium green foliage, and tiny, long-lasting, white flowers that appear in dense, flattened, compound corymbs (about 2 to 4 inches across) throughout the summer on stems typically rising 24 to 36 inches tall.

Foliage has a strong, somewhat spicy aroma that persists when used in dried arrangements. Species plants are uncommonly sold in commerce, however. It is the cultivars and hybrids of common yarrow, most of which have stronger stems, more upright habits, and larger flowers, that have become popular flowering plants for ornamental gardens. Cultivars also extend the range of flower colors to include pinks, reds, creams, yellows, and even bicolor pastels.

How To Make Your Achillea Millefolium, Or Yarrow Thrive

You will get your best results when this plant is grown in lean, dry to medium, well-drained sandy loams in full sun. Plants do well in average garden soils and tolerate poor soils as long as the drainage is good. Plants also tolerate hot, humid summers and drought. If grown ornamentally, plants are best located in locations protected from strong winds. Plant stems tend to flop, particularly in hot, humid climates. Cutting plants back to lateral flower buds after initial flowering will tidy the planting and encourage additional bloom. Plants may also be cut back to basal foliage after bloom.

Common yarrow has a large number of additional common names, including milfoil, thousandleaf, soldier’s woundwort, bloodwort, nose bleed, devil’s nettle, sanguinary, old-man’s-pepper, and stenchgrass.

General Achillea Millefolium, Yarrow Information

Pests and Diseases

This plant rarely suffers from pests or diseases.


Established plants can be divided in the spring or early fall (every 2-3 years) to maintain vitality of the planting. Plants spread aggressively through creeping rootstock, and can naturalize into substantial colonies if left unchecked.

If you want to prevent self-seeding cut off flower heads as they begin to die back.

Garden Uses

Cottage gardens, wild gardens, meadows, prairies, naturalized areas, and of course your herb garden. This species is generally too weedy for borders.

Medicinal Herb

Note: Medicinal herbs should be used under the supervision of physician and as part of a comprehensive health plan.


Cut the flowers and leaves for drying as a plant come into flower.

Medicinal Uses

Yarrow is one of the 3 best-known herbal remedies for fever. If used as an infusion it will induce sweats that cool fevers and expel toxins. It can be used fresh as a poultice for healing wounds, chapped skins, and as a mouthwash for inflamed gums. Young leaves can be used in salads.

Quick Facts

  • Family: Asteraceae
  • Common Name: Yarrow
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Hardiness Zones: 3 to 9
  • Height: 24 to 36 inches
  • Spread: 24 to 36 inches
  • Bloom Time: June to September
  • Bloom Description: White, yellow
  • Sun: Full sun
  • Water: Dry to medium
  • Maintenance: Medium
  • Leaf: Fragrant (modest scent)
  • Attracts: Butterflies
  • Tolerates: Deer, drought, dry soil, air pollution

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Tips on using Yarrow for medicinal uses…

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