Growing and Using Yarrow

Growing and Using Yarrow
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Yarrow! Yarrow has been valued since ancient times for its ability to stop bleeding, hence its folk name "nosebleed." Today, yarrow is valued for its ability to fight off colds and flu. It is also an ingredient in many herbal cosmetics. Dried and cut flowers are used in arrangements.

Flowers heads are flat and 2" to 6" across on 2' to 5' stems. Colors include white, yellow, gold, pink and red. The aromatic foliage is green or gray.

Growing Yarrow

Yarrow is an undemanding plant that thrives even in poor soil but does best in a sunny position with good drainage and light soil. Yarrow grows well in zones 3-8 with some cultivars extending to zone 10. Plants are susceptible to disease in humid areas.

Propagate from seeds, by root division or from woody cuttings taken in autumn or spring. They can take a year or two to establish themselves from seed. Place the plants 1-2 feet apart and divide the clumps when they become crowded. Taller cultivars may need to be staked, especially if grown in very fertile soil.

Mildew is a fungal disease which causes grayish downy spots on leaves. Plants which do not have adequate sunshine or air circulation, or those grown in humid climates are most susceptible. Spray with sulfur early in the morning while foliage is still slightly moist with dew. Badly infected plants should be cut down and destroyed.

Yarrow in the Garden

Yarrow is more than just another pretty face in the flower garden!

Grow yarrow to attract beneficial Syrphid flies (also called flower flies or hover flies) to your garden. Syrphid flies are bright yellow or black and orange flies that might resemble yellowjackets or wasps. They are harmless to humans, but in the larval stage they consume huge quantities of harmful insects, particularly aphids, in the garden. Syrphid flies are important to the garden because they feed early in the season when it may be too cool for other beneficial insects.

Yarrow acts as an activator to speed the decomposition of compost. Use as much as you like, but you only need one finely chopped leaf per wheelbarrow load of compost material to see results.

Other Uses for yarrow:

It adds color to a border. The flat heads add contrast to mounding or spiky plants.

Use in yarrow in fresh arrangements.

Yarrow makes attractive dried flowers if cut before the sun bleaches them. To dry the flowers, cut them at their peak before they start to fade and hang them head-down in clusters of six to 12 in a dry, airy place out of the sun.

Yarrow makes a fragrant addition to potpourri.

Using Yarrow

Do not use yarrow during pregnancy, for undiagnosed bleeding, or for more than two weeks. Use flowers, leaves and stems. A piece of the plant held against a wound will staunch bleeding. An infusion can help to break a fever. A tea made from yarrow with peppermint and elderflower can be used to fight colds and flu. Yarrow can be of benefit in mild cystitis, it promotes digestion and improves circulation by acting as a vasodilator. Yarrow can also lower blood pressure.

Yarrow for Oily Skin and Hair

Yarrow is a wonderful choice when making cosmetics and cleansers for oily skin. Here are some of my favorite recipes.

Facial Steam:

Place a tablespoon of yarrow in a bowl and fill the bowl half full with boiling water. Lean over the bowl, and cover your head with a towel so that no steam escapes. You should be 12-18 inches from the water. After steaming, splash your face with cool water and pat dry.

For added benefit, add one or more of the following herbs:

Stimulating Herbs



Mint Healing Herbs


Thyme Soothing Herbs



Yarrow and Chamomile Compress

You will need:

1 teaspoon of dried yarrow flowers

1 teaspoon of dried chamomile flowers

1 cup of boiling water

Pour the boiling water over the herbs and steep for 20 minutes. Strain out the herbs and discard. Cool the liquid to a comfortable temperature. Dip a tea towel into the liquid and squeeze out the excess.

Rinse your face in lukewarm water. Place the towel over your face and relax for 15-20 minutes. Pat your face dry. If you want to apply a moisturizer afterwards, choose one that doesn't contain alcohol. Tip: You can also use this compress to soothe rough, red, or cracked hands. If you hands are dry, coat with almond oil before applying compress.

Simple Yarrow and Chamomile Lotion

Place 1 tbs. dried yarrow flowers and foliage, and 1 tbs. dried chamomile flowers in a bowl. Add 2 cups boiling water. Leave in a warm place for 30 minutes. Stir again then strain off the liquid. Pour into glass bottles and store in the refrigerator.

Yarrow treatment for oily hair

You will need:

1 tablespoon of almond oil

1 tablespoon of jojoba oil

1 tablespoon of dried yarrow


*Note: Jojoba oil is wonderful for hair, but if you can't find it, use 2 tablespoons of almond oil.

Bring water to boil in a double boiler. Add oils and yarrow to the top of the double boiler. Simmer gently, stirring frequently for 1 hour. Cool and strain. Repeat with fresh herb if you'd like a stronger oil.

Mix half and half with conditioner, and massage into hair and scalp. Cover hair with plastic wrap and and top with a warm towel. Sit in a warm, sunny place for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Shampoo, and repeat the treatment once or twice a week as necessary

Yarrow skin treatment for itchy skin

You will need:

- 1 pint jar with tight fitting lid

- 1/4 cup dried, coarsely ground yarrow

- a half and half mixture of grain alcohol (Everclear) and spring water.

Place the herbs in the jar, and fill the jar to the shoulder with grain alcohol - spring water mixture. Cover tightly. Store at room temperature, protected from light and heat, for 4-6 weeks. Shake vigorously every few days. After 4-6 weeks strain the mixture through a clean cotton cloth in a colander or strainer. Squeeze to remove as much liquid as possible. Discard the plant material and store the liquid in a dark glass bottle. This preparation will keep at room temperature indefinitely. Apply to itchy areas with a cotton ball.


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