How to Balance pH for Yarrow: A Comprehensive Guide

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a beautiful and versatile perennial that adds charm to any garden. However, to ensure its optimal growth and flowering, it is crucial to maintain the right soil pH balance. In this article, we will guide you through the process of balancing the pH for yarrow, including soil testing, amendments, and ongoing care.

What Is the Ideal pH Range for Yarrow?

Yarrow thrives in slightly acidic to neutral soil, with an ideal pH range between 5.5 and 6.5. If the soil is too rich or alkaline, it can hinder the growth and flowering of the plant. To create the perfect environment for your yarrow, you may need to amend the soil to achieve the desired pH level.

How to Test Soil pH for Yarrow

yarrowImage source: Pixabay

Before making any amendments, it is essential to determine the current pH of your soil. You can use a soil test kit or a DIY method to measure the pH level:

  1. Purchase a soil test kit from your local garden center or online retailer. Follow the instructions provided to collect a soil sample and interpret the results.

  2. For a DIY method, mix equal parts soil and distilled water in a container. Stir well and let it settle for 30 minutes. Dip a pH test strip into the solution and compare the color to the provided chart to determine the pH level.

How to Amend Soil for Yarrow

If the soil pH is above 6.5, you can take the following steps to lower the pH and improve soil quality for yarrow:

  1. Add coarse sand or grit: Mix in 1 to 2 inches of coarse sand or grit to the top 6 inches of soil. This will improve drainage and reduce fertility, helping to lower the soil pH.

  2. Incorporate organic matter: Mix in a 2-inch layer of well-rotted compost or leaf mold to the top 6 inches of soil. This will improve soil structure and provide a slow-release source of nutrients while maintaining a neutral to slightly acidic pH.

  3. Apply sulfur: For more significant pH adjustments, you can apply elemental sulfur to the soil. The application rate depends on the current pH and soil type. As a general guide, apply 1 pound of sulfur per 100 square feet to lower the pH by 1 point in sandy soils, or 2 pounds per 100 square feet for clay soils. Incorporate the sulfur into the top 6 inches of soil and water thoroughly.

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Ongoing Care for Yarrow

yarrow 2Image source: Pixabay

To maintain the ideal pH range and support healthy yarrow growth, follow these care tips:

  1. Topdress with balanced organic fertilizer: In spring, apply a 1-inch layer of balanced organic fertilizer around the base of the yarrow plants. This will provide a gentle source of nutrients and help maintain the desired pH range.

  2. Water regularly: Yarrow prefers well-drained soil and moderate moisture. Water the plants deeply once a week, or more frequently during dry spells. Avoid overwatering, as yarrow does not tolerate constantly wet soil.

  3. Provide adequate sunlight: Yarrow thrives in full sun to partial shade. Ensure your plants receive at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily for optimal growth and flowering.

  4. Monitor pH levels: Test the soil pH annually and make adjustments as needed to maintain the ideal range of 5.5 to 6.5.

Growing Yarrow from Seeds

If you want to start yarrow from seeds, follow these steps:

  1. Sow seeds indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the last predicted frost.

  2. Fill a seed tray with a well-draining seed-starting mix and press the seeds firmly into the surface.

  3. Water the tray until the mix is evenly moist but not soggy.

  4. Place the tray in a warm, sunny window or under grow lights. Optionally, use a heating pad beneath the tray to maintain a temperature of 70°F (21°C) and speed up germination.

  5. Keep the soil moist but not wet, and expect germination within 10 to 14 days.

  6. Once the seedlings have developed true leaves, transplant them into individual pots or outdoors after the risk of frost has passed.

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By following these guidelines for balancing soil pH, amending the soil, and providing proper care, you can create the ideal growing environment for your yarrow plants. With the right conditions, your yarrow will thrive, producing beautiful foliage and abundant blooms year after year.

1. Epic Gardening – Yarrow Plant: How to Grow and Care for Achillea Millefolium
2. The Spruce – Achillea (Yarrow) Plant Profile
3. GrowVeg – How to Grow Yarrow