Considering Yarrow cultivars for large front street garden

Asked July 10, 2019, 5:07 PM EDT

The front of my house includes a mostly sunny 4.5 foot wide strip of weed filled grass adjacent to the street. That strip which is maintained by me and owned by the City of Baltimore, is about 40 feet long and the public sidewalk separates the strip from my front yard. There is also a female Ginko biloba tree that sits in this strip, a tree that I wish the City would remove. The yearly fruit drop from the Ginko is not pleasing in the least. In any case, I would like to remove all of this weed filled "grass" and plant it with yarrow. I have noticed some beautiful cultivars, pictured below and was wondering if I would be doing more harm than good by planting them. Would the native insects enjoy them as they would the more traditional form of yarrow? I am not concerned that the City will have any problem with me removing the grass and planting something else. Many of my neighbors make modifications to the City owned strips at the base of their property. Thank you for your thoughts.

Baltimore Maryland plant selection flowers: annuals and herbaceous perennials

4 Responses

This is an interesting question -- and there isn't an easy, straightforward answer. There are native and non-native forms of yarrow. They look very similar and they hybridize. Typically, if you want to support native insect species, it is best to plant their true native host plants rather than cultivars (also to prevent the cultivars from hybridizing and possibly weakening the native plant populations). More on this here: https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/cultivars-native-plants

In the case of yarrow and the taxonomic confusion around it, one would not be able to know if they really have the true native America yarrow plant. We do not have specific research information on how the colored cultivars of yarrow affect insects. There is some research indicating that plant cultivars with colored (red/purple) leaves and double flowers do impact insect feeding negatively, but that is not the case with yarrows. Yarrow cultivars do attract a variety of butterflies and bees that visit the small upright flowers. Ultimately, it is up to you. If supporting native insects is a goal, try to incorporate some true native species and stay away from plants that are known to be invasive species.

You might be interested in the additional information we have on our native plants page. https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/native-plants

Christa

Thanks so much. You have given me lots to think about. Perhaps I will look for another plant to fill this space.

Thanks so much. You have given me lots to think about. Perhaps I will look for another plant to fill this space.