Fern Leaf Yarrow, Milfoil
Achillea millefolium L. is the correct scientific name for this plant. It was first documented by Carl von Linnaeus in Species Plantarum in 1753. Linnaeus also named the genus.
Plants of the World Online by Kew currently lists 142 accepted species of Achillea (as of when I updated this page on 5-18-19). The 2013 version of The Plant List (no longer maintained) named 151 accepted species in the Achillea genus (plus 33 accepted infraspecific names), 352 synonyms (Including 335 infraspecific synonyms), and 220 unresolved or un accessed names (including infraspecific names).
Achillea millefolium is native to every continent and country in the upper half of the planet and introduced to many others. Plants of the World online list 133 synonyms of Achillea millefolium which includes other species as well as varieties and forms. Many of the varieties and forms were, at one point, named as a species (either before or after). A perfect example of how the same species was given a multitude of different names by many different people.
A friend of mine, Mary Botler, gave me my start of Achillea millefolium in Leland, Mississippi in 2011. It was pretty funny to see Mary pulling up these plants by the handfuls so I had plenty to put here and there at the mansion. I am quite sure this Achillea is a cultivar but I have no clue what the name is.
My first experience with the Achillea millefolium was when I bought a plant from Bluestone Perennials in 1981 or 1982. My grandfather (mom’s dad) passed away in 1981 and I moved into my grandparents home on this same farm. The house is gone, but I rejuvenated the flower beds I made way back then. There aren’t any more of the Achillea I bought from Bluestone. There are a lot of native Achillea millefolium growing in the pasture and along the garden fence, but they grow much differently than “domesticated” cultivars.
I sold the mansion in Mississippi and moved back to the family farm in mid-Missouri in February 2013. I gave up around 200 plants but I took most of my cactus and succulents, Alocasia, some of the perennials and a few other plants. I took two clumps of the Achillea millefolium with me and put them in the bed I had dug along the south side of the house.
Origin: Native to many countries. Who knows where it originated.
Zones: USDA Zones (° F)
Size: 24-36″ tall
Light: Sun to light shade
Water: Average. Drought tolerant
As cooler temps started arriving it was time to think about winter. I had been used to fall arriving later after several years in Mississippi. Even though I grew up in mid-Missouri, I was not looking forward to it.
I moved the two bigger clumps of Achillea millefolium in the spring of 2014. I moved the bigger one in front of the chicken house and the other next to the porch on the north side of the house. I had a few stragglers so I put them along the basement steps on the south side.
The Achillea millefolium did very well on the north side of the house despite more shade than it preferred.
Achillea millefolium is always one of the first perennials to return in the spring.
Even though the soil in the north bed stays a little damper than on the south side, the Achillea millefolium seems to have no problems surviving in cold, damp soil.
Achillea millefolium prefers a location where they receive full sun. They will do OK in light shade but they won’t tolerate too much of it. I tried that in Mississippi and found out that is about the only thing they won’t tolerate.
If you plant Achillea millefolium where they receive full sun all day, even in the most intense heat, they will thrive and spread. I think my Achillea being where they receive “just enough” sun and not to much shade has kept them from going crazy. The Equisetum hyemale (Horsetail) is planted at the other corner and nothing can stop it…
The Achillea did very well along the basement steps on the southeast corner of the house for a while then just fizzled out. That was very weird since they prefer full sun and well-drained soil. If you plant your Achillea where it is happy, you will always have it.
The Achillea millefolium in the north bed has always done well there, but every year is gradually moving all by itself. It wants more sun so it is creeping to where it can get more. I am thinking about moving it but I haven’t decided where…
They didn’t like this spot for some reason even though it is in full sun. They fizzled out…
I didn’t take many photos for a while because I was temporarily without a camera…
To successfully grow Achillea millefolium, you only have a few very simple rules. They prefer full sun in well-drained soil. They appreciate a little extra water during dry spells, but even without it, they are OK. While other plants may be drooping because of the intense midday sun, the Achillea loves it. I have never seen my Achillea complain about the heat or being dry.
As I mentioned earlier, the Achillea millefolium on the north side do well even though it wants more sun. It gets morning sun and again in the late afternoon. It can see the sun beyond the shade so it has a tendency to lean toward it. It may be at least 2 feet from where I originally planted it. I just make the bed bigger…
Even though I have taken several photos of Achillea millefolium flowers, I keep taking more…
Even though January 2018 was very cold at times, the Achillea millefolium wasted no time coming up whenever it warmed up for a few days.
It seemed like every time we had a couple of warm days, the Achillea would sneak out for a peek. I am still wondering about moving this clump to a sunnier location. This clump and the one in front of the chicken house get a little more shade than they would like.
The main clump in the north bed keeps moving farther away from the house. I decided to put this clump by the barn. I guess I need to take a photo of it there. There is another clump here in the same bed that is behind Hosta ‘Empress Wu’. I was going to move it to the south bed but it didn’t make it there yet. There are also several new babies that have popped up this spring.
The clump of Achillea millefolium in front of the chicken house used to be much bigger. Umm… It is also moving and appears to want to be around the corner. I think it would also like a little more sun to be happy. There is a good sized elm tree fairly close to the chicken house that keep it from having as much sun as it would like.
I moved the largest clump of Achillea millefolium to a spot next to the corner of the barn. There is still another clump next to the wall of the house in the north bed (above photo). I thought about moving it to the south bed but that will need to wait until the spring of 2019. I had to stake it up because it was leaning toward the light…
The above photo is the clump I moved to the barn from the bed on the north side of the house. I think the cows nibbled on it through the fence a little…
There are still several Achillea millefolium in the bed on the north side of the house from offsets of the clump I moved here a few years ago. I moved the bigger clump to a spot in front of the barn but I keep forgetting to take photos of it. I am not sure how many are coming up in the north bed this spring, or even where they will come up. Over the years they have been moving away from the house in more sun. A large clump (above photo) is still close to the foundation.
The clump I put in front of the chicken house in 2014 has been slowly but surely moving to more light. Now it is almost around the corner of the chicken house.
The clump of Achillea millefolium I transplanted next to the southwest corner of the barn is looking very well, too.
A couple of plants came up close to the steps in the north bed and a couple more toward the center of the bed… I think they are from the clump I moved to the barn last year.
The Achillea millefolium by the steps are doing very well but I wanted the new Colocasia ‘Coffee Cups’ for that spot. I would have moved the Achillea to the south side of the house, and still might do that. For the time being, I just planted the Colocasia behind them. Two different species in the same spot with different moisture requirements. Hmmm… What kind of planning is that?
They are doing amazingly well in front of the chicken house this year.
Flowering up a storm by June 14.
I really like the flowers of the Achillea millefolium.
I will continue adding more photos as time goes by.
I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant.