About Western Yarrow: Western Yarrow is one of the most common wildflowers in the western and prairie regions of the United States, as well as growing throughout Canada. Its feathery foliage is a major source of food for bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, deer, and wild fowl. In the early days of the American prairies, Native American tribes such as the Pawnee, Cherokee, and Chippewa used common yarrow to relieve pain and headaches, reduce fever, and induce sleep. When taken internally as a tea, yarrow purifies the system and has anti-inflammatory benefits. Cosmetic preparations sometimes include yarrow because of its cleansing, refreshing effect. Medicinal use of yarrow is not recommended for expectant mothers.
Western Yarrow Germination: Direct sow the seed in fall or early spring; fall planted seed will remain dormant until spring. To start the seeds indoors, plant them just below the surface of the soil since they need light to germinate. Keep the soil temperature at 65-75 degrees F, but out of the hottest rays of sunlight. When the seedlings grow big enough to handle safely and there is no chance of frost, plant them 18-24” apart. Yarrow grows best in full sun and sandy or well drained soil, though it tolerates drought conditions.
Growing Western Yarrow Seeds: While the young plants should be watered to help them establish a deep root system, too much watering of mature plants can cause stem and root rot or mildew. Since yarrow tends to flop over in fertile soil or shade, staking may be needed; this also protects the plant’s fragile stems in high winds. Deadhead the wilted blossoms often for continued blooming. After the plant has finished blooming, cut the plant down to its lower leaves for healthy spring growth. When the plant becomes 3-4 years old, it will benefit from being dug up and divided in the early spring or fall. Because yarrow can become invasive through the spread of roots and its reseeding habit, care should be taken to control the spread of the plant. This can be done by putting a barrier underground surrounding the plant’s roots, or by growing the plant in large container. This plant attracts butterflies and beneficial insects as well as repelling deer and rabbits, and grows well in borders or large containers. As a companion plant with herbs, it increases their fragrance, flavor, and essential oils.
Harvesting Western Yarrow: Gather leaves and flowers as soon as they mature. Harvest the whole stem as soon as it begins to bloom; bundle the stems and hang them upside down to dry away from direct sunlight. Yarrow blossoms make good cut flowers, and when dried they hold their color well. Keep in mind that if the flowers have been open for more than a day, they will go to seed as they dry. Individual blossoms or leaves can also be harvested and spread out to dry in a protected location.
Saving Western Yarrow Seeds: Allow the flower heads to mature and begin to dry; the stem will start to turn brown. Remove the heads and spread them out to dry out of direct sunlight, then rub them lightly to release the seeds. Store the seed in a cool, dark place.
Detailed Western Yarrow Info: Origin: US Native Other Common Names: Woolly Yarrow Duration: Perennial Bloom Time: Summer Height: 24-36 inches Spacing: 24-36 inches Light: Full Sun Soil Moisture: Dry USDA Zone: 5a-10b Seeds Per Oz: 175,000 Produces neat, bushy clumps of hairy green fern-like foliage, and 4” clusters of white flowers.