Achillea umbellata (Umbellata Yarrow)
Achillea umbellata, commonly called Umbellata Yarrow, is a small evergreen or semi-evergreen herbaceous plant that forms pretty silvery cushions. Its tiny finely toothed leaves are grey in the winter and almost white in the summer. Clusters of small white daisy-like flower heads form umbels on top of hairy stems that emerge above the foliage.
Achillea umbellata is a drought-tolerant plant native to the Mediterranean basin, more precisely to the mountainous regions of Greece.
Due to its allelopathic properties, it requires very little weeding maintenance.
HEIGHT & WIDTH
Umbellata Yarrow scientific name
- Botanical name: Achillea umbellata (ak-ih-LEE-a um-bell-AY-tuh)
- Family: Asteraceae (ass-ter-AY-see-eye)
- Common name: Umbellata Yarrow
|Refers to the war hero Achilles from Greek mythology, that used this plant to heal his soldiers’ wounds.
|The Latin word for umbrella which refers to the umbel form of the inflorescence of this plant.
How to identify Achillea umbellata
Achillea umbellata is a clump-forming ground cover with evergreen or semi-evergreen foliage, depending on the conditions. The white umbel flowers emerge above the foliage in the spring.
It takes 2 to 5 years to reach its mature size.
- The foliage height ranges from 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 in).
- The flower stem reaches 25cm ( 10 in).
- It spreads slowly up to 40cm (15 in) through runners.
The stems are simple and erect, with a grey-green colour and a woolly appearance. The deeply dissected leaves grow alternatively along the stem.
In the blooming season, clusters of small flowers grow at the top of the stem.
The leaves are deeply dissected into paddle-shaped lobes.
They are soft and hairy, with a grey-green colour in the winter that turns almost white in the summer under the effect of heat and drought.
The tiny flower heads are white with a creamy yellow centre and are grouped together into umbel-like clusters.
The several groups of flowers that compose the umbel are enclosed in a cup of overlapping bracts held by stalks that insert at different levels of the stem.
The flowers bloom in the spring and grow above the dense foliage creating a very attractive sight.
Achillea umbellata Usage
Achillea umbellata is a very pretty plant that can be used in any dry garden.
It has year-round interest with its beautiful foliage and presents lush flowers during the spring.
It is particularly useful as a ground cover in gravel and rock gardens. It can also be used in beds and borders.
Due to its low water needs and hardiness, it is well suited for dry gardens in warm or cold climates.
The genus Achillea is named after Achilles, a war hero in Greek mythology.
According to Homer’s Iliad (one of the oldest works of literature), Achilles used Yarrow to treat his soldier’s wounds.
Achillea umbellata is particularly useful to promote your garden’s biodiversity because it is attractive to pollinating insects such as butterflies and bees.
How to plant and care for Achillea umbellata
Achillea umbellata is a low-maintenance plant. It does not need watering because it is drought-tolerant and also requires very little weeding due to its allelopathic properties.
It does well in poor, well-drained soil, which resembles the natural conditions where it is native. Actually, their longevity is better in fairly poor soils.
It adapts well to different types of soils, even sandy, limestone or clay, but it does not tolerate heavy wet soil.
The soil PH is also not an issue. It can vary from acidic to alkaline soils.
It is a very hardy plant that can stand temperatures down to -15ºC (5ºF) or colder.
Achillea umbellata prefers full sun but also tolerates partial shade. It can be planted under deciduous trees or shrubs because it can endure root competition.
The best time to plant this shrub is at the beginning of spring for colder regions or the beginning of autumn for warmer regions.
How to water Achillea umbellata
Achillea umbellata is a drought-tolerant plant that likes some moisture but does not tolerate watering in hot periods. Once established it no longer needs watering.
During the first two years after planting, you will need to water the young umbellata yarrow every two to three weeks during the summer. Allow the soil to dry out between watering.
When watering it, you need to do it abundantly, giving the soil a generous soak so the water can penetrate deeply into the soil to allow the roots to grow deeply.
To preserve the soil´s moisture, you should add mulch (but not too close to the plant’s base). Wood chips and gravel are good options for mulching.
How to prune Achillea umbellata
Achillea umbellata does not require a lot of pruning maintenance.
You just need to cut back any damaged or dead foliage in the spring to give it a neater look.
Also, you should trim the faded flower stalks after the flowering season to allow the foliage to replenish quickly and form a pretty dense cushion in the summer.
How to propagate Achillea umbellata
Achillea umbellata can be propagated by Division, seeds or cuttings.
Propagation by Division
The easiest way to propagate your plant is to divide it in early spring, just before the new growth has started. Dig up the plant and carefully break it into several pieces. Choose the most vigorous pieces and replant them.
Since Achillea may self-propagate by layering, you may take the self-rooted cuttings without lifting the parent plant.
Propagation by Seeds
You can propagate by seed in autumn or in spring. Sow the seeds on the surface of a well-drained sowing mix at about 15ºC (59ºF).
Seeds will usually germinate within 1 to 3 months.
Propagation by Cuttings
Take semi-ripe cuttings in early autumn or basal stem cuttings in the spring.
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Sources of information used for this article