The 5 Best Achillea (Yarrow) Plants to Grow
Our choices for planting, cutting and attracting bees
Achillea plants (also called Yarrow) are one of the most versatile garden perennials you can grow. Ranging from tall, almost 2m high border plants to more compact varieties for pots, they flower best in full sun and can thrive in relatively poor ground where other flowers might struggle. Excellent for cutting and an absolute magnet for pollinators, we think Achilleas deserve a place in any garden. But with so many colours, heights and forms, which variety is the best for you? To help you choose, here are five of our favourites.
1. Best Achillea for Wildflower Meadows
Wild achillea (Yarrow) is usually white and occasionally pale pink. For a natural look in your wildflower meadow, choose a light coloured variety such as The Pearl or Summer Pastels. These work particularly well with other tall perennials and grasses, making the clustered flower heads look like scatterings of snow! Plant them in clumps of 3-5 plants initially, and they’ll soon spread by self-seeding to create an even more organic and informal look.
2. Best Achillea for Cottage Gardens
If you’re planting a cottage style border or garden, you’ll want to start with tall perennials - and there’s not much that can beat Achillea Cloth Of Gold. Growing to almost 2m tall, the strong stems will form the perfect backdrop at the rear of borders, with their large, clustered golden flower heads sitting high above the other plants. It will also attract those all important bees and butterflies, and the ferny foliage goes particularly well with that of Delphiniums and Foxgloves.
3. Best Achillea for containers and balcony gardens
Achillea makes a beautiful and wildlife-friendly addition to container gardens and balconies. If you’re planting Achillea in pots, choose a more compact variety such as bright New Vintage and Seduction or the softer-toned Summer Pastels. All of these grow to a compact height around the 30-40cm mark. New Vintage Rose is a particularly good choice for single-species containers, having a gloriously intense deep pink colour - it’s also available in violet and White colour tones.
4. Best Achillea for cutting
The best flower arrangements contain a good mixture of ‘thrillers’ and ‘fillers’ so that each stem is shown to its best advantage. For a thriller, try a few stems of vibrant Achillea such as Cerise Queen, and surround it with generous bunches of The Pearl, whose frothy white flowers make the perfect contrast as a filler - both are exceptional performers as fresh or dried flowers. Finish off your display with 4-5 of the ferny leaves. Achillea has a vase life of at least a week if you snip the stems on an angle and change the vase water daily.
5. Best Achillea for bees
Achillea is so high in accessible nectar and pollen that ALL varieties are recognised as Plants for Pollinators by the RHS. The best nectar producers for the space they take up are the larger, flat headed Achillea millefolium such as Summer Pastels and Cerise Queen and Achillea filipendulina like Cloth Of Gold. This particular variety is recorded as being attractive to Miner, Bumble, Leafcutter, Mason, Halictid and Yellow-faced bees; Large Skipper, Small Copper, Meadow Brown, Small Heath and Peacock butterflies; ladybirds and hoverflies. It’s also one of the tallest border perennials, making it easy for flying insects to access.