How to Grow a Yarrow Plant and Keep it From Flopping

Get growing tips for a yarrow plant, along with simple ways to keep your yarrow from flopping through the heat of summer.

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How to Grow a Yarrow Plant

yarrow plant, A swallowtail butterfly sips nectar from a cluster of purple yarrowJocelyn Sommerfeld
A swallowtail butterfly sips nectar from a cluster of purple yarrow plants.

A yarrow plant is tough as nails and sneers at neglect—not what you’d expect from such a pretty flower. A thin layer of compost is enough to make yarrow happy. Some species are considered weedy, so be prepared for many free plants.

  • Botanical name: Achillea spp.
  • Common name: Yarrow
  • Zones: 3 to 9
  • Light Needs: Full sun
  • Soil: Well-draining soil
  • Size: Most grow 2 to 4 feet tall

Yarrow is also very drought tolerant. It just needs water if you receive less than 1 inch of rain a week. Divide the plants every few years to give these perennials some space and reduce the chance of disease. You can grow yarrow from seed. Or get flowers faster by buying plants from the garden center.

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All About Yarrow

Yarrow in Flower Gardenbgwalker/Getty Images
Perennial yarrow flowers in bloom

Yarrow produces easygoing, long-lasting flowers that come into their own once the weather is consistently warm. Suited to most growing conditions, yarrow provides a long season of blooms all the way into fall. Do a little research before you buy a yarrow plant—it’s best to stay away from aggressive varieties.

The pad-like bloom clusters are perfect places for butterflies to land and sip from the nectar-filled flowers.

Yarrow comes in butter yellow, red, pink, salmon or white. If you look past the delicate flowers, you’ll spot ferny foliage on this resilient plant that’s attractive in its own right.

Check out the top 10 classic yellow flowers to grow.

How to Stop Yarrow From Flopping

Firefly Peach Sky yarrow features orange-pink flowers on tall stems.Walters Gardens /
Firefly Peach Sky yarrow features orange-pink flowers on tall stems.

Question: “Most of my yarrow plant stems flopped over. What happened?” asks Birds & Blooms reader Douglas Tracy of Pomfret Center, Connecticut.

Melinda Myers: Yarrow prefers well-draining soil and is drought tolerant once established. It tends to grow tall and flop in moist and rich soil, hot weather or when too much nitrogen fertilizer is applied.

You can adjust your care of yarrow plants to promote more compact growth and prevent the stems from falling over. Just prune the plants back by one third after the first set of flowers fade. Then cut back new growth near the base of the plant after the second flush of flowers finish their show.

Or you can cut the stems halfway to the ground when they are about 18 inches tall and before the first flowers appear. Consider providing some structural support for the yarrow plant by surrounding it with sturdier plants.

Next, discover more easy perennials that anyone can grow.

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Melinda Myers
Melinda Myers is a nature and gardening writer whose specialty is attracting wildlife, especially birds, to the garden. She contributes regularly to the magazine Birds & Blooms, and lectures widely on creating gardens that please both human and avian visitors.
Luke Miller
Luke Miller is an award-winning garden editor with 25 years' experience in horticultural communications, including editing a national magazine and creating print and online gardening content for a national retailer. He grew up across the street from a park arboretum and has a lifelong passion for gardening in general and trees in particular. In addition to his journalism degree, he has studied horticulture and is a Master Gardener.