How to grow achillea

Yellow and bronze achillea amongst grasses

Achilleas, or yarrows, are traditional border perennials. They have long been valued for their feathery foliage and the beautiful, flat-topped flowers that bloom right through the summer months. But in recent years, they have become fashionably popular, used widely in perennial and wildlife planting schemes.

There are many cultivars and colours to choose from, ranging from white and yellow to shocking pink and the flat flower heads make the perfect landing platform for pollinators, particularly hoverflies.

In this short video guide, the experts at John Cullen Gardens, who hold a National Collection of Achillea millefolium, share their top tips for growing achillea:

Take a look at our handy Achillea Grow Guide, below.


How to grow achilleas

Achillea 'Terracotta'
Orange achillea ‘Terracotta’

Where to plant achilleas

The ideal site for achilleas is free-draining soil in full sun to partial shade. However they will tolerate quite a wide range of soil types, as long as they don’t suffer from water-logging.

Achilleas look good in the middle of an ornamental border or wildlife garden. They also make a good choice for growing in gravel gardens.

Young achillea plant
Young achillea plant

How to plant achilleas

Plant in spring. If you’ve bought a new achillea plant, dig a generous hole, deeper and wider than the pot and add a handful of horticultural grit for added drainage. Plant in the hole, backfill and firm the soil around the plant and water in well.

Achillea 'Moonshine'
Bright-yellow achillea ‘Moonshine’

How to look after achilleas

Achilleas are quite straightforward in their requirements. Cut back old foliage in spring and deadhead flowers through the  summer to encourage more blooms. Leave a few flowerheads if you want to collect seed.

They are clump-forming perennials, although relatively slow-growing, but they need dividing every three to five years to revitalise the plant. Some varieties that flower prolifically, such as ‘Moonshine’, will simply exhaust themselves after a few years, so will need replacing.

Sowing achillea seeds
Sowing achillea seeds

How to propagate achilleas

The best method of propagating achilleas is by division in spring. You can also take cuttings in early spring. Pull away new shoots, leaving a heel, and plant into potting compost with added sand. Your cuttings should form new roots after a few weeks and can be potted on into individual pots when the plant is well established.

Some varieties will self-seed happily, although they may not come true to type. However, it is worth collecting the seed which can be sown in autumn or spring.

Follow our guide to sowing seeds in autumn.

Achillea 'Petra'
Maroon achillea ‘Petra’

Achilleas: problem solving

Achilleas can suffer from aphids and may get powdery mildew in periods of very hot weather so keep plants well watered.

Achillea filipendula 'Cloth of Gold'
Golden-yellow achillea ‘Cloth of Gold’

Five great achillea varieties to grow

Achillea ‘Moonshine’ – a variety with grey-green foliage and pretty light yellow flowers. The plants are clump forming but spread slowly.
Achillea filipendulina ‘Cloth of Gold’ – with light green foliage and deep golden blooms.
Achillea millefolium ‘Cerise Queen’ – one of the pink varieties. The cerise flower heads have dark margins and paler colouring towards the centre.
Achillea millefolium ‘Fanal’ – the bright orange-red flowers with yellow eyes are very striking. Use in a hot colour scheme for an end of summer burst of glory. It has a great reputation as a good cut flower.
Achillea ‘Terracotta’ – the beautiful blooms open orange and fade to yellow with age.

Discover more achilleas in our Plant Finder.

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