Not just another pretty face in a lush and lazy garden, yarrow (Achillea) earns its keep in the worst soils with the least amount of water.
If you’ve got barren areas crying out for color, it’s yarrow to the rescue!
This hardy flowering perennial thrives in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 9. Some gardeners even have success as far north as Zone 2, and as far south as Zone 10.
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In this article, I’m going to introduce you to my 13 favorite yarrow varieties you are sure to love.
Here’s the lineup:
Cultivating a Classic
Achillea is virtually pest and disease free. It prefers a dry environment with full sun, and average to poor soil that drains well.
If you cultivate it in fertile soil, be prepared for it to develop “leggy” stems that may require staking, and pruning in spring to restore a more compact appearance.
Sow seeds or flowering mature plants directly into gardens or containers in early spring, after all danger of frost has passed. Expect blooms in the second year.
Alternatively, start seeds indoors or in a greenhouse in late winter to get ahead of the game and produce flowers in the first year.
Once established, yarrow is drought tolerant, and seems to share its high level of pest and disease resistance with neighboring plants. Rabbits and deer usually don’t bother with Achillea.
According to experts at the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Maryland, our backyard yarrow cultivars and hybrids come to us courtesy of five main species: A. clypeolata, A. filipendulina, A. millefolium, A. ptarmica, and A. taygetea.
Whether native, introduced and naturalized, heirloom cultivars, or hybrids, yarrow is a vigorous grower that spreads by an intricate system of rhizomes and may require dividing every few years.
Other than that, it’s a low-maintenance, water-wise powerhouse.
And now, here are 13 exciting varieties to love!
13 Best Yarrow Varieties for the Home Garden
These are some of my favorite cultivars, and for your convenience, I’ve added links to some of our trusted affiliates.
1. Apple Blossom
A. millefolium ‘Apple Blossom’ or ‘Apfelblute’ is one of numerous Galaxy hybrids from Germany, and is a cross between A. millefolium and A. taygetea.
‘Apple Blossom’ Achillea in 2.5-Inch Pot
It has purplish-pink flowers atop upright, green-leafed stems that reach 18-24 inches tall at maturity. Flower heads are two to three inches across.
‘Apple Blossom’ plants are available on Amazon in 2.5-inch pots.
2. Cerise Queen
This A. millefolium cultivar is known for its deep pink flowers, with dark green foliage and a mature height of twelve to 36 inches.
With a long vase life, you can brighten up the garden beds as well as rooms of your house with these pretty, colorful blooms.
‘Cerise Queen’ seeds are available from Eden Brothers in a variety of packet sizes.
A. millefolium, aka common yarrow, milfoil, or soldier’s woundwort, is a white variety that may be somewhat invasive if allowed to roam.
The Perennial Garden, available on Amazon
According to Jeff and Marilyn Cox, authors of The Perennial Garden: Color Harmonies Through the Seasons, it probably arrived in the US when it was dumped from English settlers’ ships, where it had been used as ballast for their journeys.
In addition, native white-flowering varieties were already growing here, including mountain yarrow, A. millefolium lanulosa, and western yarrow, A. millefolium occidentalis.
Today, the introduced and native varieties are almost indistinguishable in the wild.
White-flowering seeds are available from True Leaf Market in 1- and 4-ounce packages.
A. filipendulina ‘Gold’ is a fern-leaf cultivar that produces bright yellow saucer-like flower heads up to four inches across, atop upright stems of three to four feet tall.
Its silvery green leaves grow like ferns from the base of this clumping variety.
You can find ‘Gold’ seeds in packets of various sizes available at Eden Brothers.
5. Gold Plate
A. filipendulina ‘Gold Plate’ is a fern-leaf cultivar. It boasts upright stems of four to five feet tall, and flower heads six inches across in mustard-yellow hues.
Its silvery green leaves arise from the base of this clumping variety.
A. filipendulina ‘Gold Plate’ Seeds
Other gold-flowered hybrids and cultivars include ‘Parker’s Variety’ and ‘Coronation Gold.’ Some reach six feet in height, and all make a bold, structural statement in an outdoor living space.
Pair them beautifully with gold-centered shasta daisies.
‘Gold Plate’ seeds are available from True Leaf Market in 1/4 -, 1-, and 4-ounce packages.
Have you heard of xeriscaping?
It’s a style of gardening that focuses on planting species that thrive with little intervention and the fewest possible natural resources.
Yarrow is an environmentally responsible, waterwise garden choice.
6. King Edward
A. tomentosa ‘King Edward’ is a matting dwarf variety that’s perfect for rock gardens.
Its six-inch height also makes it a pretty ground cover for barren open spaces, and gives you the option of easily mowing it down at season’s end.
500 A. tomentosa ‘King Edward’ Seeds
This variety has small, pale yellow flower heads, and woolly leaves of silvery green.
‘King Edward’ seeds are available from Hazzard’s Seeds via Amazon in packages of 500.
Another low-growing variety that you might enjoy is A. ageratifolia, which has white flowers, silvery-green foliage, and a maximum height of about nine inches.
A. millefolium ‘Moonshine’ sports beautiful bright yellow flowers with silvery-green foliage, and grows to a mature height of 18 to to 24 inches tall.
‘Little Moonshine’ is a recent variation of the original ‘Moonshine’ variety, a hybrid of A. clypeolata x A. taygetea.
It’s a compact, mounding plant that reaches nine to 12 inches in height, making it perfect for container gardening.
8. New Vintage Rose
A. millefolium ‘New Vintage Rose’ is a compact, mounding plant with medium-sized non-fading vibrant deep pink to red flower heads.
Leaves are green, and stems reach 12 to 15 inches in height at maturity.
The intense color of this type is best as a stand-alone specimen in gardens and containers. A striking violet ‘New Vintage’ cultivar is also available at some nurseries.
Are you wondering why yarrow looks like a dense mat of color?
It’s because the flower heads are in a corymb arrangement, a tight cluster in which multiple stems of varying lengths all top out together to form a flattened mass of dense, tiny blossoms.
A. millefolium ‘Paprika’ is a Galaxy series hybrid that has green leaves and dusty brick red flowers that measure a medium-sized two to three inches across.
A. millefolium ‘Paprika’ in #1 Container
Blossoms fade to shades of pink, and perch atop upright stems that top out at at a mature height of 18 inches to two feet tall.
‘Paprika’ plants are available in #1 containers from Nature Hills Nursery.
Red yarrow (A. millefolium rubra) is a vibrant, brightly colored variety with rusty red blooms that are excellent for attracting pollinators.
Heirloom A. millefolium rubra Seeds
Reaching a mature height of twelve to 30 inches, it’s perfect for bouquets or to save as a dried flower.
A variety of package sizes – from 400 milligrams up through a whopping 1-pound sack – are available from Eden Brothers.
11. Strawberry Seduction
From the Seduction series comes A. millefolium ‘Strawberry Seduction,’ with medium-sized flowers that resemble red, ripe strawberries, and fade to straw yellow in late summer.
Characteristic of this series, its green-leafed stems grow in compact mounds that reach 18 inches to two feet in height at maturity.
This cultivar tolerates heat and humidity exceptionally well. Plant en masse, or in a container on its own for a focal specimen.
Note: All Achillea cultivars are members of the Asteraceae family that includes daisies, sunflowers – and ragweed.
Some people may be allergic to it via pollen inhalation or skin contact. In addition, the ASPCA warns that yarrow is toxic to cats, dogs, and horses.
12. Summer Pastels
A. millefolium ‘Summer Pastels’ is a Galaxy hybrid that offers multi-colored medium-sized blossoms in an array of light hues, including pastel shades of mauve, orange-red, pink, purple, rose, and salmon.
These top green-leafed stems with a mature height of 18 inches to two feet tall.
A. millefolium ‘Summer Pastels’ Seeds
This is a compact, mounding variety that does well as a filler in mixed patio containers. Known for its excellent tolerance of warmth and humidity, its colors may fade during heatwaves.
Seeds for the ‘Summer Pastels’ variety are available from True Leaf Market.
13. Sunny Seduction
A. millefolium ‘Sunny Seduction’ has green leaves and medium-sized muted yellow blossoms atop stems ranging from 18 to 30 inches tall at maturity.
‘Sunny Seduction’ Plants in 5-Inch Containers
It’s an excellent filler in containers, particularly those with blue specimen plants such as sage or gilia.
The Seduction series of plants offers sturdy, compact foliage and a long bloom season.
‘Sunny Seduction’ plants are available from Nature Hills Nursery in 5-inch containers.
One last thing…
Though it’s not included among my top picks here, I would be remiss if I failed to mention in a little more detail that there is yet another species of yarrow, A. ptarmica. Several cultivars are available, including ‘The Pearl’ and ‘Angel’s Breath.’
Widespread in Europe, it has naturalized in scattered areas across the US. Flowers exhibit varying shades of white, and it is sometimes called “sneezeweed.” But it is not to be confused with common sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale), which is poisonous to humans and animals.
Yarrow earns its keep where other plants fail to thrive. And it sure saved the day for me.
I had all but given up on a dry, gritty patch by the driveway that grew nothing but scraggly weeds. I had tried amending the soil and watering constantly, but the hot blacktop seemed to create a microclimate just short of desert.
Once I planted rugged Achillea varieties, I was able to create a focal point that said, “Welcome! A gardener really does live here!”
So, whether you’re already a fan, or have just discovered it today, you’re bound to enjoy good value and a pleasant view when you introduce one or more of our 13 varieties to your outdoor living space.
If you live in a humid region like I do, always opt for green-leafed plants like those in the Seduction series. They know how to handle sticky summer weather.
If you don’t have any barren places begging to be rescued (lucky you!), you may want to enjoy it in brightly colored containers like this tall planter, available from Plow and Hearth in black, apple green, iris purple, or white.
What would you say to two of them flanking your front door, complemented by a profusion of bright yellow yarrow? I’d say, bring on the curb appeal!
In addition to beautifying the outdoors, yarrow is an exceptional cutting flower. You’ll know it’s time to harvest when the blossoms open and reveal the pollen within. They’ll last at least a week in fresh arrangements, provided you snip the stems and change vase water daily.
For everlasting displays, cut in the same fashion and hang stems upside-down to dry. Enjoy true color and that classic yarrow aroma for months to come.
Are you ready to turn barren spaces into beautiful focal points with sturdy foliage and vivid color, year after year? Share your stories about this flower favorite with us in the comments below.
And if you want to know about growing this beautiful flower and medicinal herb, be sure to check out all of our yarrow gardening guides or start with these:
© Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published July 23, 2018. Last updated May 8, 2020. Product photos via Eden Brothers Hazzard’s Seeds, Lumos80, Nature Hills Nursery, Plow & Hearth, Rodale Books, and True Leaf Market. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.