How to Grow Yarrow from Seeds: Planting Tips & Care Guide

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Brief Overview of Yarrow

Yarrow, known scientifically as Achillea millefolium, is a hardy perennial that’s not only beautiful but also packed with history and medicinal properties. This versatile plant boasts clusters of small, tightly packed flowers that rise above its fern-like foliage.

A garden favorite, yarrow is a fantastic attractor of pollinators and beneficial insects, and it’s incredibly resilient, making it a great choice for gardeners seeking a low-maintenance yet high-impact plant.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, yarrow is toxic to dogs, cats, and horses, causing increased urination, vomiting, diarrhea and dermatitis. When consumed by cows, an unfavorable flavor is given to their milk. In a standard rodent model for reproductive toxicity, aqueous extracts of yarrow produced a significant increase in the percentage of abnormal sperm.


Key Takeaways

  • Yarrow seeds need light to germinate, so don’t cover them with soil when planting.
  • Plant yarrow in well-draining, sandy loam and full sun for best results.
  • Start seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before the last frost or sow directly outside after the frost.
  • Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged to encourage germination.
  • Thin out seedlings to 18-24 inches apart to allow for proper growth.

Importance of Growing Yarrow from Seeds

Growing yarrow from seeds can be a rewarding experience. It’s economical, allows you to grow a large number of plants, and you might find joy in nurturing them from the very beginning. Plus, starting from seeds gives you access to a wider variety of yarrow, including some that may not be readily available as starts or cuttings at your local nursery.

Understanding Yarrow Seeds

Characteristics of Yarrow Seeds

Yarrow seeds are tiny, requiring a bit of extra care when sowing. They need light to germinate, so a gentle hand is needed to ensure they’re not buried too deep in the soil. With a bit of patience and the right conditions, you’ll see the first signs of life in 10-14 days after planting.

Different Varieties of Yarrow Seeds

There are several varieties of yarrow to choose from, each with its own unique color and height. From the classic white-flowered form to shades of yellow, pink, and red, there’s a yarrow to suit every garden’s color scheme. Some popular varieties include ‘Paprika’, ‘Moonshine’, and ‘Terra Cotta’.

Purchasing High-Quality Seeds

To ensure the best start for your yarrow, always buy seeds from a reputable supplier. High-quality seeds have a better germination rate and are more likely to produce healthy, vigorous plants. Check the packaging for the seed’s harvest date; fresher seeds tend to germinate more reliably.

Preparing for Planting

Selecting an Appropriate Location

Choosing the right spot for your yarrow is crucial. These plants thrive in full sun, meaning at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight per day. They’re not fussy about wind, but a spot that’s sheltered from the strongest gusts can help prevent damage to the tall flower stalks.

Soil Requirements for Yarrow

Yarrow isn’t picky about soil but performs best in well-drained, sandy loam. It’s quite drought-tolerant once established, so avoid areas where water tends to collect. If your garden soil is heavy or clay-like, consider amending it with sand or organic matter to improve drainage.

Tools and Materials Needed

Before you start planting, gather your tools and materials. You’ll need:

  • A seeding tray or small pots if starting indoors
  • Seed-starting mix
  • A watering can or spray bottle
  • Labels or markers to keep track of varieties

With your supplies at hand, you’re ready to embark on the journey of growing yarrow from seeds—a path that leads to a garden filled with color and life.

Planting Yarrow Seeds

Best Time for Planting

Timing is everything when it comes to planting yarrow seeds. If you’re starting indoors, begin 8-10 weeks before the last expected frost. This head start allows your seedlings to grow strong enough to withstand the move outdoors. If you’re sowing directly into the garden, wait until after the last frost when the soil has warmed up.

Stay tuned for more detailed steps on how to plant your yarrow seeds and ensure they grow into vibrant, healthy plants.

Proper Seed Preparation Techniques

Before you plant your yarrow seeds, it’s important to give them the best possible start. Since yarrow seeds need light to germinate, you don’t want to bury them under the soil. Instead, press the seeds gently into the surface of your seed-starting mix, ensuring they make good contact but are still exposed to light. If you’re using a seeding tray, cover it with a clear lid or plastic wrap to maintain humidity until germination occurs.

Sowing Seeds in Containers or Directly in the Ground

You have two options for sowing yarrow seeds: in containers indoors or directly in your garden. If you choose to start indoors, fill your seeding tray or pots with a sterile seed-starting mix, lightly moisten the soil, and sprinkle the seeds on top. For outdoor sowing, wait until the risk of frost has passed and scatter the seeds over a well-prepared bed, gently pressing them into the soil. In either case, keep the soil moist but not waterlogged to encourage sprouting.

Remember to label your seeds, especially if you’re planting multiple varieties. This will help you keep track of which plants are which as they grow. With your seeds sown, you’re on your way to a garden graced with the delicate beauty of yarrow.

Caring for Yarrow Seedlings

After the seeds have germinated and your yarrow seedlings begin to grow, they’ll need some attention to ensure they develop into strong, healthy plants. The first true leaves, different in appearance from the seed leaves, will signal it’s time to start a gentle feeding regimen with a balanced, diluted fertilizer.

Watering Requirements

Yarrow seedlings prefer consistent moisture to establish a strong root system. Water them when the top layer of soil feels dry to the touch. Be careful not to overwater, as yarrow doesn’t like soggy feet. A good rule of thumb is to water deeply but infrequently, promoting deep root growth.

Providing Adequate Sunlight

As your seedlings grow, ensure they receive plenty of sunlight. If you started them indoors, place them near a sunny window or under grow lights. Gradually acclimate your indoor seedlings to outdoor conditions by setting them outside for a few hours each day, increasing the time over the course of a week. This process, known as hardening off, reduces transplant shock when you move them to their permanent garden spot.

Once your yarrow plants are established outdoors, they’ll need full sun to flourish. If you notice the stems stretching or leaning, they’re likely reaching for more light and may need a sunnier location.

Fertilizing Young Plants

Yarrow isn’t a heavy feeder, but a little bit of fertilizer can go a long way in the early stages of growth. Use a half-strength, balanced liquid fertilizer every few weeks to nourish your seedlings. As they mature, you can cut back on fertilizing, as too much can lead to leggy growth and fewer flowers.

Managing Yarrow Growth

Thinning Seedlings

Once your yarrow seedlings have a few sets of true leaves and are a couple of inches tall, it’s time to thin them. This simply means removing some plants to allow the others enough space to grow. Aim for spacing of 18-24 inches between plants. Thinning is crucial for proper air circulation, which helps prevent disease and encourages strong growth.

When thinning, you can transplant the extra seedlings to other areas of your garden or share them with fellow gardening enthusiasts. Always handle the delicate seedlings by their leaves, not their stems, to avoid damage.

Controlling Pests and Diseases

Yarrow is generally resilient, but it can occasionally fall prey to pests like aphids and diseases such as powdery mildew. Keep an eye on your plants for any signs of distress. If you spot pests, you can often rinse them away with a strong stream of water or use insecticidal soap as a treatment. For fungal issues, ensure good air circulation and avoid overhead watering to keep the foliage dry.

Mulching and Weeding Techniques

A layer of mulch around your yarrow can help retain moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature. Organic mulches like straw or shredded bark also add nutrients to the soil as they break down. When it comes to weeding, be diligent but gentle around your yarrow plants to avoid disturbing their roots.

Harvesting Yarrow

Recognizing When Yarrow is Ready for Harvest

Yarrow is typically ready for harvest when the flowers are fully open and vibrant. This usually occurs in mid to late summer. To harvest, cut the flower stalks at the desired length, ideally in the morning when the plant’s moisture content is highest.

Harvesting Techniques for Flowers

Use sharp scissors or pruning shears to make clean cuts when harvesting yarrow flowers. You can use the fresh cuttings in bouquets or dry them for later use. To dry yarrow, hang the flower stalks upside down in a dark, well-ventilated area until the moisture has evaporated and the flowers are crisp to the touch.

Drying and Storing Yarrow Flowers and Seeds

Properly dried yarrow can last for months, retaining much of its color and medicinal properties. Store dried yarrow in an airtight container, away from direct sunlight and moisture. If you’ve saved seeds from your yarrow plants, keep them in a cool, dry place until you’re ready to plant them next season.

Practical Tips and Troubleshooting

Tips for Successful Yarrow Cultivation

To ensure a thriving yarrow garden, remember these tips:

  • Start with quality seeds from a trusted source.
  • Provide plenty of sunlight and well-drained soil.
  • Be patient with germination and give seedlings time to establish.
  • Thin out plants to prevent overcrowding.
  • Water deeply but infrequently to encourage strong roots.

Common Problems and Solutions

Even the most attentive gardeners can encounter issues. If your yarrow isn’t thriving, consider these common problems and their solutions:

  • If plants are leggy or weak, they may need more sunlight.
  • Yellowing leaves can indicate overwatering. Let the soil dry out more between watering sessions.
  • For pest infestations, use a gentle treatment like insecticidal soap.
  • Encourage beneficial insects that prey on pests by planting companion plants that attract them.

With these tips and a bit of care, your yarrow will be a stunning addition to your garden, providing beauty and attracting wildlife season after season.

Maintaining Long-Term Yarrow Growth

To keep your yarrow thriving year after year, divide the plants every 2-3 years to rejuvenate and spread them out. This also helps to maintain the health of the plant and prevent it from becoming too crowded, which can lead to reduced blooming and increased susceptibility to disease.

Most importantly, deadhead spent flowers regularly to encourage new blooms and prevent self-seeding if you wish to control the spread. As yarrow can become invasive, managing its growth is crucial. Besides that, keep an eye on the overall health of your plants, and they will reward you with their steadfast beauty.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are always questions when it comes to gardening, and yarrow is no exception. Here are some answers to the most commonly asked questions about growing yarrow from seeds.

How Long Do Yarrow Seeds Take to Germinate?

Yarrow seeds typically take between 10-14 days to germinate, provided they are kept moist and have access to plenty of light. Remember not to cover the seeds with soil, as they need light to trigger germination.

Can Yarrow Grow in Partial Shade?

Yarrow prefers full sun but can tolerate partial shade. However, too much shade can lead to leggy plants and fewer flowers, so aim for a spot that gets at least six hours of sunlight a day for optimal growth.

Therefore, while yarrow can adapt to less than ideal lighting conditions, its performance will be best in full sun.

How Often Should I Water My Yarrow Plants?

Once established, yarrow is quite drought-tolerant and should be watered deeply but infrequently. During the growing season, aim for about a half-inch of water per week, adjusting for rainfall. Always allow the soil to dry out between waterings to prevent root rot.

Is Yarrow Invasive and How Can I Control Its Spread?

Yarrow can be invasive, spreading through both rhizomes and self-seeding. To control its spread, deadhead the flowers before they set seed, and divide the plants every few years. If you prefer a more natural look, you can let yarrow spread and fill in an area, as it’s excellent for erosion control and as a ground cover.

Remember, the key is to balance your garden’s aesthetics with maintenance to keep yarrow from taking over.


Growing yarrow from seeds is a journey that can add beauty and resilience to your garden. With the right care and attention, you can cultivate a patch of yarrow that will thrive for years to come.

As we’ve explored, yarrow is a versatile and hardy plant that offers more than just visual appeal. It attracts beneficial insects, has medicinal uses, and can even serve as a companion plant in your garden.

Summary of Key Points

To recap, remember the following points when growing yarrow from seeds:

  • Provide light for germination and do not cover seeds with soil.
  • Plant in well-draining soil and full sun for the best results.
  • Water deeply but infrequently, and deadhead to promote new blooms.
  • Thin seedlings to prevent overcrowding and divide plants every few years.
  • Stay vigilant against pests and diseases, and enjoy the rewards of your gardening efforts.

Importance of Patience and Dedication in Growing Yarrow from Seeds

Growing yarrow from seeds requires patience and dedication, but the process can be immensely satisfying. Watching the tiny seeds you sowed with your own hands develop into robust plants is one of gardening’s greatest pleasures.

Therefore, don’t be discouraged if everything doesn’t go perfectly the first time. Gardening is a learning experience, and each season brings new opportunities for growth—both for your plants and for you as a gardener.

Encouragement for Readers to Embark on Their Yarrow-Growing Journey

If you’re considering growing yarrow from seeds, I encourage you to take the plunge. It’s a beautiful addition to any garden, and the process can be a great way to connect with nature. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, yarrow is a forgiving plant that can bring joy and beauty to your outdoor space.

So grab some seeds, find a sunny spot, and start your yarrow journey today. Your garden—and the pollinators—will thank you.

Can I Use Yarrow as a Companion Plant in My Garden?

Absolutely! Yarrow makes an excellent companion plant because it attracts beneficial insects like ladybugs and parasitic wasps, which help control pest populations. Its deep roots can also help break up compact soil, making it easier for neighboring plants’ roots to grow.

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