Alberta Native Plant Spotlight: Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Common Yarrow (Achillea borealis) blooms in native wildflower garden in southern Alberta.

With its feathery soft, almost fuzzy-looking foliage and incredible medicinal uses, Yarrow is one of my favorite forbs for the native wildflower garden.

Growth Habits

Growing up to 3 feet tall, yarrow is extremely aggressive. It spreads by rhizomes as well as seeds. Since we have a lot of space here, I really appreciate this about yarrow; I love to find it popping up in different areas of my yard! But if you have a small yard or space to plant native wildflowers, yarrow might not be the answer.

It’s pretty forgiving as to sunlight and water requirements, tolerating sun to shade and dry to moist conditions. I’ve found it does prefer sunny areas and dry soil, though.

Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) about to bloom in native wildflower garden in Southern Alberta


Yarrow’s umbelliferous blooms are white and sometimes can be tinged with pink. In our yard, they’re only white. They begin blooming in early summer and can bloom all the way until September.

Foliage is super soft and feathery, but fern-like in shape; see photo below. You just can’t help touching it when you walk by and see it! The color is more grayish bluish green rather than a bright green.

Yarrow is also great for cut flower arrangements (although a smidge unpleasant smelling if you really get your nose in there…although some sources call it a “pleasant fragrance”, so it must be personal preference :)).

Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) blooms in native wildflower garden in southern Alberta.

Insects and Wildlife

Native bees and butterflies (especially the Blue Copper butterfly) adore this plant! Yarrow will also attract beneficial insects such as green lacewings, ladybugs, and hoverflies.

Deer don’t prefer yarrow, so that’s also a bonus.

Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) blooms in a native wildflower garden in southern Alberta

Plant With…

Below, see yarrow growing alongside blue flax, wild strawberry, native and non-native sages, grasses (Rocky Mountain Fescue), and Black eyed Susan. I absolutely adore this meadow-y look, where everything is casually mixed together and strewn about. As my gardens mature and the plants self seed and spread by rhizomes, they’re looking more and more like this. I couldn’t be happier about it!

Different types of native wildflowers blooming in a southern Alberta garden

In Conclusion

Yarrow is an ideal native flower for big spaces or areas which need erosion control. It would be a valuable addition to a wildflower meadow, as well. Support native bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects by planting yarrow in your suitable space!

Learn more about why to garden native in this post.

Happy Gardening!