Yarrow companion plants are great for a large range of garden crops, and yarrow is a drought-tolerant, flowering, perennial herb that is semi-evergreen. It offers flowers that can be yellow, white, or pink, and it’s common to find it growing naturally in North America in grasslands. However, it can quickly become invasive if you don’t take steps to manage it properly. Wind can pick up and carry yarrow seeds and cause them to spread over a large area very quickly, and the root system is a second way it can be invasive. It produces new stems anywhere the roots touch the soil, so keep this in mind if you’re considering adding yarrow companion plants to your garden.
Yarrow boosts the health of nearby crops by attracting a range of pollinators, including bees. Along with pollinators, yarrow also attracts different beneficial insects to your space, like lacewings, ladybugs, and hoverflies. Yarrow also has an odor that can keep pests away from your plants. Yarrow was historically used to keep pests out of books by placing it between the pages, and people used to sew yarrow into their clothing to keep bugs away. You can even make a homemade insect repellant using it.
Yarrow will also benefit your soil as it injects more nutrients into the soil as it grows and spreads. This can be very good because yarrow can thrive when you plant it in poor soil and improve the conditions at the same time. One way to allow yarrow to add nutrients to the soil is to allow it to grow unchecked for a while before planting in a space as it will put up magnesium, copper, potassium, and calcium. Then, you should mow it over and turn the soil to use your yarrow as a natural fertilizer that injects the stored nutrients into the soil as it decomposes. You can do this in the fall so it’s ready to go in the spring.
Using yarrow for compost is another way the plants can benefit from the nutrient boost. If you don’t want to mow the yarrow over and turn it into the soil, you can always cut it down and toss it into your compost pile or compost tumbler.
Also, yarrow can get up to three feet tall at full maturity, so it can provide shade for your shorter plants. So, plants that don’t like heat from the afternoon sun would thrive planted under it because they’d stay cool. We’re going to outline several yarrow companion plants and a few to avoid next.
Yarrow – Quick Reference Guide
|Attracts||Butterflies, bees, and pollinators (great pollinator garden plant)|
|Bloom Time||June to September|
|Common Name||Dog fennel, common yarrow, devil’s nettle, dog daisy, gordaldo, milfoil, nosebleed plant, sanguinary, soldier’s woundwort, thousand-leaf, thousand-seal, Western yarrow, and yarrow|
|Flower Color||Orange, cream/tan, pink, white, purple/lavender, burgundy/red, and yellow/gold|
|Genus Name||Achillea millefolium|
|Growth Rate||Slow to moderate|
|Maintenance||Low to medium|
|Planting Depth||½-inch for seeds|
|Plant Type||Perennial, herb, ground cover, wildflower, herbaceous perennial|
|Region or Origin||Western Asia, Europe, and North America|
|Size||Two to three feet tall and two to three feet wide|
|Soil Drainage||Sandy, well-drained, clay or loam|
|Soil pH||Four to Eight (alkaline, acidic, and neutral)|
|Spacing||One to three feet|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun (at least six hours per day)|
|Tolerance||Drought, heat, poor soil, salt, cold, and windy|
|Toxicity||Minor skin irritation but toxic to cats, dogs, and horses|
|USDA Zones||Three to nine|
Types of Common Yarrow to Select
There are a few great types of common yarrow to pick for your companion plants, and they include but are not limited to:
- Apple Blossom – This is three of the Galaxy hybrid cultivars that thrive in the Mid-Atlantic region. They have pinkish-purple flowers that are two to three inches wide, and they thrive in zones three to nine.
- Cerise Queen (A. millefolium) – This is a very common cultivar that offers white centers with deep pink flowers. It gets between 12 and 36-inches tall with dark green foliage. When you plant this yarrow companion plant, you can brighten up garden beds in zones three to nine.
- Coronation Gold – If you want to make dried or fresh-cut flower arrangements, this is the cultivar to choose. They’re very compact, and they produce dense, convex flower heads that are three to four inches wide with well-branched stems. It grows best in zones three to nine.
- Gold Plate (AKA A. filipendulina) – You’ll get very pretty mustard yellow flowers on this plant, and the flowers are roughly six inches. The stems are four to five feet tall, and they rise out of mounds of silver-green, fern-like, basal leaves.
- Moonshine – This plant offers bright-yellow, flat flowers that are two to three inches across, and it has silvery-gray, feathery foliage. It’s prone to having issues with foliar diseases and root rot during hotter summers, and it won’t tolerate wet soil.
- Paprika (AKAK A. millefolium) – This is a common yarrow companion plant with a brick red color with a yellow center. They are two or three inches wide with blooms that are pretty shades of pink.
- Schwellenberg – Finally, this cultivar offers deep gold flowers on well-branched, strong stems with silvery, feathery foliage and a compact, upright form.
16 Yarrow Companion Plants
You can easily curtail your yarrow to keep it neatly contained while allowing your yarrow companion plants and crops to enjoy boosted nutrients in the soil and natural pest control. In some cases, they can benefit yarrow too! Here are 16 popular yarrow companion plants to consider:
Beans are very versatile plants that you can grow alongside a host of vegetables or other types of plants. This is due to the fact that legumes like beans increase the amount of nitrogen present in the soil, and they offer this to the plants that grow by them. In exchange, beans boost how other plants grow around them. You can plant yarrow near your beans, and both plants will boost the nutrient content in the surrounding soil to affect your other garden crops in positive ways.
When it comes to happily growing as a yarrow companion plant, basil thrives. It’s one of the most beneficial herbs you can cultivate close to other plants because it works to promote the plants’ overall growth and it helps to keep pests at bay. If you plant basil alongside yarrow, they’ll grow happily together.
Beets are a nice crop to have growing in the garden, but did you know that yarrow companion plants match well? Yarrow is a natural insecticide, and it works to repel aphids and other pests. They also attract insects that eat aphids along with pollinating bees, and this can help boost your beet yields.
More delicate vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower are the main food source for many hungry insects. Growing yarrow close to these vegetables will help to keep your green crops thriving while welcoming in beneficial predators and pollinators. Yarrow can also help keep members of the brassica family cool during the hotter parts of the day by shading them. Keep a close eye on your yarrow so it doesn’t push your brassicas out for space.
Yarrow companion plants will help to attract good insects to your space, including butterflies and bees, and this helps pollinate your plants. Also, yarrow is great to plant next to cabbage because cabbage grows very low to the ground, so the taller yarrow plants will help block some of the sun. Yarrow also works well as a pest repellant, and since cabbages are prone to issues with pests, this can increase your yield.
There are a few different combinations of vegetables that you can plant in your garden and have them be successful, and carrots make a great yarrow companion plant. Carrots like cooler growing conditions, and they don’t compete with space as much as other plants with yarrow because they go deeper than the yarrow plant roots. So, you can plant yarrow right over your carrots and they’ll shade the soil while boosting the nutrients to encourage healthy growth.
Swiss chard is a very versatile vegetable that is rapidly gaining in popularity. It’s a very light feeder, so you won’t have to worry about fertilizing it so much. It’s also not prone to having issues with diseases or pests. Also, it makes a fantastic yarrow companion plant, and it goes well planted alongside annual flowers. Swiss chard offers cultivars that are so colorful, they look right at home planted in flower beds.
Yarrow companion plants include chives because yarrow boost allium production, and this is another name for chives. Yarrow works like a natural fertilizer in the soil, and it contributes to maintaining a healthy soil. Also, it works very well planted alongside fragrant crops to help ward off pests and keep the plants healthy. Yarrow is a very resilient plant that will protect your chives from pest attacks, and this can boost your production.
9. Eggplants and Tomatoes
Nightshade plants like tomatoes and eggplants have very big problems with aphids and other fruit-hunting pests, so using them as yarrow companion plants can help prevent it. If your yarrow plants don’t deter the pests from attacking at all, they draw in predatory wasps to ensure your eggplants and tomatoes thrive. Yarrow has plant health-boosting benefits that go deep in the soil to help provide juicer, larger fruits from your nightshade plants to make this an even better yarrow companion plant. However, yarrow can easily overwhelm your nightshade plants, so make sure to regularly prune it.
10. Fruit trees
Yarrow may not be nearly as tall as some of the fruit trees you plant in your yard or garden, but it can help stimulate their growth and fruit production by pulling in waves of pollinators. It survives well through periods of arid weather, and the ever-growing yarrow plant will draw in butterflies, bees, and wasps well into the weeks when your trees could use a boost. You can also expect your yarrow companion plants to enjoy fewer pests that usually enjoy attacking the fruit as it’s growing. Pairing yarrow with shrubs and bushes that produce fruit will also give the soil a nutrient boost to maximize your yield.
Alliums like garlic are great for repelling a host of different pests due to the strong scent they have. Yarrow also provides a strong odor that many insects find confusing, so using garlic as a yarrow companion plant is a solid idea if you have a patch in your yard where your flowers or vegetables are getting ransacked by pests. Garlic works with yarrow because yarrow increases the soil’s nutrient levels.
However, be careful if you plan on putting it by other alliums like onions because onions are highly competitive. The root system will happily for their way through anything in the way, and when you combine this with yarrow’s constantly growing roots, you have a disaster waiting to happen. Garlic is also competitive enough that yarrow won’t push it out.
12. Grape Vine
Yarrow companion plants have gone hand-in-hand with vineyards for many years to help shield the grape vines from insects of other pests. The flowers are also a nectar source for pollinators, and this helps to support their populations. Also, yarrow offers benefits for grape vines themselves as they boost the soil health and increase your yields.
Lavender is a fantastic herb to grow with a huge range of plants if you want to attract pollinators to your space. Easy-going and strong-smelling, this yarrow companion plant will appeal to butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees. Planting a cluster of lavender and yarrow together is a great idea to help encourage more timid plants to thrive. For example, they’d go well with double-flowered roses. Both yarrow and lavender require a little bit of encouragement to grow, and they will happily thrive in dry, sunny conditions to make them a solid support network for plants and flowers that struggle in the warmer summer months.
Melons are a fruit type that has a lot of issues with fungal diseases, especially powdery mildew. This fungus can attack many plants, including coneflowers, and bee balm. However, yarrow doesn’t have such a huge issue with this disease, so melons make a decent yarrow companion plant.
A lot like rosemary, oregano works well as a yarrow companion plant as they form a very protective partnership. When you grow it with yarrow, oregano can help provide expansive soil coverage and mulch, and this offers shade to the plant so it doesn’t suffer with full sun exposure or arid conditions. Also, growing oregano and yarrow side by side can help you set up a strong defense against pests, and this can help any other shade-loving vegetables in the area thrive. Oregano will also benefit a lot of the way yarrow boosts the nutrient content in the soil. They shouldn’t compete hard with one another, but keep an eye on the yarrow and prune it as needed.
Rosemary has a solid reputation as being a plant to help control common garden pests, and it works well as a yarrow companion plant due to yarrow’s strong growth patterns. Rosemary, just like yarrow, produces an oil that is commonly used in bug repellents outside of the garden. You can use them together to form a perimeter around any sensitive plants you have and vegetables like brassicas that may struggle to grow while under attack from slugs, flying insects, and worms.
3 Yarrow Companion Plants to Avoid
Given the fact that yarrow has a reputation for spreading very aggressively, it’s reasonable that there are a few yarrow companion plants you want to avoid as they’ll compete for nutrients and space. The three biggest ones include:
1. Bee Balm
Bee balm is a perennial that attracts pollinators and bees to your garden. It also helps to support ornamental flower growth. However, it’s very competitive. So, if you were to plant your bee balm next to yarrow, they’d try to push each other out. Yarrow tends to grow more aggressively than bee balm too, so it will eventually win the struggle. This can reduce the pollinator population in your garden.
Coneflower is one of several flowers that don’t work as yarrow companion plants as yarrow is too strong of a growth pattern for them to compete. It may out-compete coneflowers for sunlight, and this could reduce the number of pollinators that visit the plant, and it can stunt the plant’s growth. It’s tempting to grow coneflowers with lavender and yarrow as the pollination and nutritional benefits may look great at first glance, but yarrow will take over. However, you can grow coneflowers with lavender without an issue.
As much as your cucumbers could benefit from being a yarrow companion plant due to yarrow’s nutrient boosters and pest control capabilities, it will die quickly if yarrow is left to thrive. Yarrow will carry diseases like powdery mildew, and this can be fatal to a large range of garden plants, especially your cucumbers.
Using Yarrow as Companion Plants in Your Garden
There are several ways you can use yarrow as a companion plant in your garden to help boost the health of all of the crops around it, and these methods include:
- In a dry and cool space, tie fresh-cut bundles or branches of yarrow and hang them upside down by the stems to enjoy them in dried flower arrangements as the flower heads keep their color for months at a time.
- In dry climates, you can get low-growing yarrow cultivars to form an evergreen, soft-looking edging that works well as a turfgrass alternative.
- Plant yarrow in a pollinator garden with other perennials that attract butterflies and bees, like bee balm or butterfly weed.
- Use yarrows with deep gold or yellow tones, including Coronation Gold, as a nice contrast to purple, blue, or violet perennials.
- Yarrow cultivars that offer a compact growth habit and eye-catching colors, like Peachy Seduction or Paprika, make pretty thriller plants in outdoor container combinations. WIth their flat-topped, large blooms that look like colorful and fun parasols and the feathery foliage, they add wonderful texture.
- Yarrow cultivars with pale flowers and silvery-hued foliage, like Moonshine, are great additions to moon gardens, alongside any plant that offers reflective, shimmery, foliage.
- Yarrow plants work very well in xeriscaping projects as they don’t require a lot of water.
Where to Put Yarrow Companion Plants in the Garden
Now that you know what makes good yarrow companion plants, what you should plant near them and what to avoid, you may want to know the ideal spaces to plant yarrow in your yard or garden. The following areas seem to do best and all of the plants thrive:
- Make sure whatever soil you pick out for your yarrow isn’t too rich with nutrients. IT can result in yarrow overgrowth. This may lead to too tall plants that shade out any yarrow companion plants around it and stunt their growth. You want to plant yarrow where the soil is average at best, and mix in a little compost.
- Well-drained soils are what yarrow plants like best. They can’t tolerate wet soil all of the time as they require dry and hot conditions to grow and thrive. Ideally, you’ll have your yarrow in a well-draining, loamy soil.
- Yarrow requires full, bright sunlight to grow, and it’ll get leggy in partial sun or shade conditions. So, pick a spot that gets full sunlight for six to eight hours every day. It will help encourage the compact growth for both yarrow and yarrow companion plants.
How to Keep Yarrow from Spreading
The biggest problem with growing yarrow is that it has the ability to overgrow and take up any space while pushing out nearby plants. But, what can you do to prevent this? You can divide your yarrow to help control the growth. Dig up clumps of your plants and put the leaves in your compost pile or soil. Common yarrow will spread using underground stems and self-sowing.
- Cut back your yarrow plants to one or two inches above the soil to get rid of spaces where pests can overwinter. This also gives room for green, new growth to crop up in the spring.
- It’s easy to control self-sowing with yarrow plants, and all you have to do is trim away the spent blooms. Also, don’t forget to strip off spent flowers to prevent them from reverting to the parent form.
- To control yarrow from spreading using underground stems, you’ll need to pull new sprouts and the attached stem just below your soil’s surface. Remember to pull fresh sprouts and the stem early in the spring months and again during the active growing season because it’s easy to pull them after rain when the soil softens.
At the core, gardening is learning how to grow different plants and how to get the most from your garden. Understanding how to use yarrow companion plants for this process offers a lot of benefits, including attracting beneficial bugs to the area and boosting the soil’s nutrient levels. Adding yarrow will also elevate your garden’s beauty and increase the soil fertilizer, and this makes yarrow a great companion plant.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.