Growing and Cultivating Yarrow

A member of the aster family, yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is closely related to chamomile and chrysanthemums.

Native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere in Asia, Europe and North America, this flower thrives in warm, sunny slopes, as well as meadows and roadsides.

Typically, the flowers are arranged in white clusters with a hairy stem (often no more than 3 feet in height) edged with feathery, cauline leaves, but hot pink and pale purple flowers have been known to dominate entire tracts of mountainous areas.

Other colors include salmon, red and yellow. Legend has it that yarrow was named after Achilles, who used this herbaceous perennial plant as a salve to soother his soldiers’ wounds.

In fact, historically, it was for a time called herbal militaris for its ability to stem blood flow from soldiers’ wounds.

The plant has a sweet and powerful scent, not unlike chrysanthemums.

Cultivation of Yarrow

Yarrows are easy to grow and maintain, given the right condition. A hot, sunny place with sandy or loamy soil makes for a healthy yarrow plant.

This hardy member of the aster family will thrive in dry average to poor soil, but will not tolerate wet soil. It is ideal to start planting in either early spring or summer.

  • Select a site with full exposure to sun and well-drained soil.
  • With the help of a garden fork, cut a 12-15 inch hole into the soil (at least twice the diameter of the pot the plant resides in), then fill it with 2-4 inches of compost.
  • Carefully remove the plant from the pot and lower it into the hole. Firm the soil around the root ball gently then water adequately.
  • Harvest only after the flowers are open and while they are still vibrant-looking.

Tips on Growing Yarrow

  • Space the plants 1 to 2 feet apart. Yarrow is fast-growing and invasive and can take over your garden if you’re not careful.
  • Add a thin layer of compost and at least a 2-inch layer of mulch each spring.
  • If it is especially dry during the summer (less than 1 inch of rain per week), remember to water the plants adequately.

Yarrow

Medicinal Uses of Yarrow

Hailed as a powerful and healing magical herb for centuries, yarrow was used to “drive out the devil” from those who were unfortunate enough to be possessed.

However, the holy mass had to be recited 7 times in order for this to work – and the victim was obliged to drink yellow while hanging upside down from a church bell… Less superstitiously, the plant has its history conjoined with advances in metallurgy since 5000 BP.

As hard bronze knives and swords with sharp edges capable of cutting deep into skin became more common, so did the risk of large open wounds that would often have been fatal – if not for the blood staunching properties of yarrow.

For thousands of years, yarrow, or the Soldier’s Woundwort, has acted as superior wound dressing, but that’s not all.

The yarrow has plenty of other medicinal uses; here are some of them:

Close open wounds – Yarrow has a great ability to staunch blood flow.

Say goodbye to nasty PMS cramps – Have unbearable menstrual cramps? A healthy dose of yarrow tea can relax your uterine muscles, driving the pain away in no time.

No more stomach pains – Yarrow also has the ability to relax stomach muscles and contains flavonoids, plant-based chemicals that increase saliva and stomach acid production, helping digestion. In combination with other herbs, it is effective in battling against bloating, flatulence, mild gastrointestinal (GI) cramping and other GI-related problems.

Sweat out fevers – The ability of this perennial herb to makes us sweat has been somewhat eclipsed by its ability to staunch blood flow in open wounds.

Nevertheless, as Dr. Christopher once wrote, “Yarrow, when administered hot and copiously, will raise the heat of the body, equalize the circulation, and produce perspiration.” A cup of yarrow tea during fever should be effective in sweating out infection.

Fevers are often accompanied by cold, which too yarrow can solve when combined with elderflower and peppermint.

A natural diuretic – Because of its antiseptic properties, yarrow is believed to be a kidney and urinary tract cleanser. It is effective as a diuretic and anti-inflammatory in case of urinary infection, such as cystitis.

And so much more – The wonderful anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of this herb make it ideal for a number of medicinal uses. It can be used for amenorrhea (irregular menstrual cycles), improving circulation by dilating the blood vessels, heartburn and so much more!

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