Yarrow, the herb for all seasons

When planning the herb garden, a must have plant to include is Achillea millefolium. Commonly referred to as yarrow, a flowering herb, it is grown for aesthetic display and medicinal value. The yarrow herb is a must have because it promotes growth of companion herbs and adds a fragrant, fern like foliage and dainty flower to the herb bed. Plant yarrow in the back of the bed and leave room for roots to develop.

Planting

Plant yarrow in a full sun location, allowing 10 to 12 inches between each plant. Soil may be lean; sandy or rocky. Herbs grow and perform best in soils that are not rich or heavily amended. Plant yarrow from plugs or seed it right into the garden. Yarrow is easily started from seeds indoors. This herb is drought and heat tolerant, but also does well in cool temperatures.

Pruning

In mid-summer, when yarrow blooms appear to end and the yarrow looks somewhat worn, renewal pruning is appropriate. Remove several inches of the stem above a node, which results in more blooms from the yarrow flower. When frost is expected, southern gardeners may wish to trim the plant back by one third for a tidy appearance. As the plant becomes tall and gangly, pruning can keep the specimen under control, compact and attractive. Those in more northern areas may wait until spring to prune dead foliage, before the yarrow blooms. Prune yarrow to the ground when the growing season is over. The plant will re-appear in spring as a dainty, frilly ground cover before sending up shoots. Yarrow is number one on Better Homes and Gardens "Cut and Come Back" list.

Cool season bloom

Warm temperatures in gardening Zone 7 this year caused yarrow to bloom earlier than it normally would here. I was surprised and happy to see the frilly foliage appear and bloom beautifully in December. This indicates that gardeners in more southern areas can grow yarrow in winter. Yarrow is a herbaceous, semi evergreen that normally returns here in the spring.

As a companion

Yarrow is an excellent companion plant in the herb garden, as it is said to strengthen medicinal properties of other herbs while promoting their growth. Yarrow is used medicinally in teas, tinctures and poltices, to fight colds and cleanse the liver. Noted herbalist Ryan Drum discusses further uses of yarrow here. Limit consumption and handling of the herb, as it is said to create a euphoric mood.

Add yarrow to your herb or flower garden this year. Snip it for an addition to salads or tea, dry it for later use or just enjoy the attractive blooms. Yarrow is truly a diverse herb from the gods.

More from this contributor:

Planning and Design for the New Spring Garden

Starting Herbs from Seed

Top 10 Winter Garden Chores