How to Grow Achillea

Achillea subtle mix of colours Achillea delicate pink with grasses Achillea lovely flat flower heads


How to grow Achillea

Green-wheelbarrow-on-background-colour-50pxAchillea is a summer flowering plant, in bloom from June to September, with lovely delicate flowers and light, feathered foliage.  Most Achillea are herbaceous dying back over the winter. Achillea looks good in a mixed border with the added bonus of being easy to grow, as indicted by the green wheelbarrow. Achillea has wide range of flower colours as illustrated; many flowers are the more subtle shades,  although there are also some bold coloured Achilleas such as A. 'Golden plate' which is a strong bright yellow and A. 'Cerise Queen' . Achillea is a popular plant and a number of varieties are readily available from garden centres and on line.  Plants can be on the tall side, 1m plus so good for the middle to back of a border,  and some Achillea grow very tall, such as 'Coronation Gold' over a 1m and make need staking depending on its position.

All Achillea are easy to grow requiring no special attention except planting in the right place and sometimes staking, particularly the taller varieties.  The foliage is attractive and feathery, varying from grey green to more grey depending on the variety. Achillea require sun, the more sun the happier the plant, and those with the more grey foliage tend to like more sun. Although not fussy, if the soil is heavy clay/on the wet side it will help to introduce some grit to improve drainage. Most Achillea prefer conditions to be on the dry side with a good amount of sun. Achillea tend to be a short lived perennial which need regular replacement. Despite their lack of longevity, Achillea mix so well with many other great garden plants, such as grasses and Alliums, image below left, they are still well worth growing. 

Achillea foliage looks a little like dill in its appearance, and the flower heads are flattish, comprising of hundreds of tiny flower heads which are long lasting and on which the colour fades with time. Illustrated below right is Achillea millefolium 'Cerise Queen' which grows to about 60cms, and next to it the same  variety, showing the flowers as they fade. Achillea are one of those useful garden plants whose flowers fade gracefully, and look really good as they fade, in a similar way as do the flower heads on Hydrangea. 

The most common of Achillea flower range are white/yellow/terracotta/pinks and red. The flowers are long lasting, although for repeat flowering, like so many plants Achillea should be deadhead. I am often tempted to leave the flower heads because the flowers look so good.

Of all the summer flowering plants Achillea is great value, and it ticks nearly all the boxes and is definitely a green wheelbarrow. Achillea is often referred to as a cottage garden type plant; I think it is stylish and under rated.

 You may also come across the wild variety, Yarrow, which is smaller and white. Often seen on a country walk growing out of tiny bits of soil in walls and crevices. 

Achillea require no pruning or attention and are generally pest free. Longer term maintenance is that Achillea  often run out of steam after about three years or so. Stocks can be replenished by taking cuttings, pot and grow on in gritty compost until sizeable enough to be planted out in the borders.  Achillea are not keen on heavy wet soils and it is best to defer planting out any small plants until the spring to avoid the worst of the winter wet. You can also divide to extend the life of the plant. Achillea are fully frost hardy all over the UK.


 Achillea bright Cerise  Achillea flowers look attractive as they fade  Achillea with Allium and grasses great combination