Yarrow Perennials

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Once referred to as the Cinderella plant, yarrow perennials--of which there are as many as 11 species and numerous hybrids--are indeed as lovely as they are reliable. Large and brightly colored flowers rise high above very handsome fern-like foliage. Plants grow in clumps and, when not in bloom, do very well as ground cover.

Species vary in size but range from about 36 to 48 inches tall to about 18 to 24 inches wide. Yarrow prefers well drained soil, but beyond that is not overly particular. Full sun is a must. Yarrow is most often grown in mass groupings rather than as a specimen plant.

There are three basic types of yarrow perennials. First are the fernleaf (Achillea filipendulina), which is the most recognizable variety. Pale green foliage reaches about 10 inches high, topped off by yellow flowers in a range of hues. Cut flowers last a long time and dry well. One fernleaf yarrow, The Pearl (A, ptarmica) does a good baby's breath imitation, especially in that it doesn't have the characteristic flat top of other yarrow. Common yarrow (A. millefolium) have soft, fern-like foliage of a much darker green than fernleaf. The blooms are also flat topped, and range in color from white to red. Common yarrow is hardy over much of the United States. The yarrow hybrids are very popular.

Yarrow Perennials in the Garden

Tall yarrows do well toward the back of beds, just as common yarrow and the smaller hybrids do well toward the front. Yarrow combines particularly well with opposite colors--Cerise Queen (a common yarrow) and Gold Plate (a fernleaf) are a good example. Remember as you design your garden that yarrow perennials are only especially tall while in bloom.

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