How to Grow Achillea
How to grow Achillea
Achillea is a summer flowering herbaceous plant with lovely delicate flowers and light, feathered foliage. Achillea mixes easily with other plants and so looks good in a mixed border with the added bonus of being easy to grow indicted by the green wheelbarrow. Achillea has lovely range of colours some of which are illustrated although there are also some bold coloured Achilleas such as A. 'Golden plate' which is a strong bright yellow. Achillea is a popular plant and a number of varieties are readily available from garden centres and on line. Plants can be on the tall side, 1m plus so good for the middle to back of a border, and some Achillea grow very tall, such as 'Coronation Gold' over a 1m and make need staking depending on its position.
All Achillea are easy to grow requiring no special attention except sometimes staking particularly the taller varieties. The foliage is attractive and feathery, varying from grey green to more grey depending on the variety. Achillea require at least a moderate amount of sun, those with the more grey foliage tend to like more sun. Although not fussy, if the soil is heavy clay/on the wet side it will help to introduce some grit to improve drainage. Most Achillea prefer conditions to be on the dry side with a good amount of sun. Achillea tend to be a short lived perennial which need regular replacement but mix so well with many other great garden plants, such as grasses and Allium, image below left, they are well worth growing.
Achillea foliage looks a little like dill in its appearance, and the flower heads are flattish, comprising of hundreds of tiny flower heads which are long lasting and on which the colours fades with time. Illustrated below right is Achillea millefolium 'Cerise Queen' which grows to about 60cms, and next to it the same flowers as they fade. Achillea are one of those great garden plants where the flowers look really good as they fade, in common with Hydrangea.
Achillea come in a range of colours making them useful for blending into different borders mainly white/yellow/terracotta/pinks and red. The flowers are long lasting, although for repeat flowering, like so many plants Achillea should be deadheaded. I am often tempted to leave them because the flowers look so good.
Of all the summer flowering plants Achillea is great value, long flowering, lovely colours and easy to grow it ticks nearly all the boxes and is definitely a green wheelbarrow. Achillea is often referred to as a cottage garden type plant; I think it is really stylish and under rated.
You may also come across the wild variety, Yarrow, which is usually smaller and white. Often seen on a country walk growing out of tiny bits of soil in walls and crevices.
Achillea are herbaceous which means that they will die back completely in the winter leaving bare earth.
Achillea require no pruning or attention and are generally pest free. Longer term maintenance is that Achillea need to be divided every three years or so. If Achillea are not divided the plants will diminish over time but you can always replenish stock if you prefer.