Another low-maintenance perennial YARROW
By MARILYN McKINLEY
OSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteer
I’m betting most readers of the Valley Grows page are always on the lookout for minimal maintenance perennials
Here’s one that makes my list of must haves – yarrow.
Yarrow has showy flower heads composed of many tiny, tightly packed flowers rising above clusters of fernlike foliage. The only thing I don’t like about yarrow is the native dirty-white variety.
It spreads fast and makes it onto my personal “invasive” list of what not to plant. So, I suggest if someone wants to share yarrow with you ask what color the flowers are.
Thankfully, yarrow does come in beautiful shades of red, pink, lavender, apricot, and yellow, and they do not spread nearly as aggressively.
Yarrow is a carefree plant. I have never done anything to mine except mow over it in the fall and divide it to share with friends. It likes full sun. It will grow in shade but tends to become floppy and does not flower as well. It tolerates poor soil, so long as the drainage is decent.
Yarrow does not mind if it’s a dry summer. In fact, over-watering will also cause it to droop over.
Plant yarrow 1 to 2 feet apart, giving it some room to travel a bit. In fall, cut it to the ground. It will come back in the spring, growing from the roots.
As far as I know, it is practically pest resistant. I have read that aphids can be a problem, but I have never seen any on my yarrow. I also have read powdery mildew can be a problem. Again, I have never seen it. I see butterflies fluttering around the pink variety.
Yarrow grows 1 to 3 feet tall and up to 3 feet wide. I don’t care to use it as a cut flower, but it does shine when you dry it. It is lovely in fall and winter dried arrangements. The yellow varieties hold their color particularly well when dried. Nice companion plants are salvias, veronicas, black-eyed Susan’s, coneflowers, and goldenrod.
Native Americans used ground yarrow infused in water to wash and treat sunburns. History also tells us it was used to treat anxiety and stress. In the language of flowers, yarrow is thought to symbolize everlasting love.
Three nice varieties to try are Coronation Gold, which has beautiful mustard-yellow flowers and silvery greyish leaves; Fanal, which has rich red with yellow centers; and Cerise Queen, which is bright pink in color.
Yarrow is hardy and a keeper here in Northeast Ohio. To learn more about yarrow, and to see photos of varieties to consider for your perennial garden, go to: http://go.osu.edu/yarrow.