Drying Yarrow Leaves and Flowers

Yarrow is a versatile herb known for its many medicinal uses and benefits. Both the leaves and flowers can be dried for various applications such as making tea, tinctures, salves, essential oils, and potpourri. Learning how to properly harvest and dry yarrow allows you to enjoy its healing properties all year long. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the entire process from start to finish.

Why Dry Yarrow?

Drying yarrow leaves and flowers is an easy way to preserve the plant’s active ingredients like flavonoids and sesquiterpene lactones. These compounds give yarrow its anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and astringent properties that are beneficial for:

  • Treating wounds and stopping bleeding
  • Alleviating cold and flu symptoms
  • Reducing inflammation and pain
  • Providing menstrual cramp relief

Dried yarrow has a longer shelf life compared to fresh, keeping its potency for 6 months up to 2 years when stored properly. Having a supply of dried yarrow allows you to make healing teas, tinctures, oils, salves, and more to support health and wellness whenever needed.

When to Harvest Yarrow for Drying

To get the most medicinal value from yarrow, it’s best to harvest the aerial parts (leaves and flowers) when the plant is at peak bloom. This is usually in late spring or summer. The essential oil content in the leaves and active compounds in the flowers are highest when the plant is flowering.

Look for yarrow plants with fully opened white or pink flower clusters on top of the stems. The leaves should look vibrant and healthy. Older leaves toward the bottom of the plant can be woody and low in essential oils.

Harvest yarrow in the morning after any dew has evaporated but before the hot afternoon sun. Use pruning shears to cut stems about 6 inches down from the tops. Select stems with an abundance of leaves and flowers.

Tips for Sustainable Harvesting

When harvesting yarrow, always leave at least one third of each plant behind. This allows it to regenerate leaves and flowers for future harvests. Cutting no more than two thirds of each plant is ideal.

Propagating yarrow is also recommended to ensure you have an ongoing supply. Yarrow can be easily propagated by dividing the roots in spring or fall and replanting sections. Scatter some seeds to allow new plants to establish as well.

How to Dry Yarrow Leaves and Flowers

There are a few different methods for drying yarrow: air drying, using a food dehydrator, or drying in the oven on very low heat. Each technique results in thoroughly dried leaves and flowers that retain their aromatic oils and medicinal properties.

Air Drying Yarrow

Air drying is the most traditional way to dry herbs like yarrow. To air dry:

  • Gather 5-10 cut yarrow stems together in small bundles. Use a rubber band or cotton string to secure the stems at the base.
  • Use pruning shears to trim the ends so they are even.
  • Tie a string around the top few inches of the bundles. Hang them upside down in a warm, dry, well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight.
  • The optimal drying temperature is between 70-90°F with low humidity. Attics, cupboards, and covered porches work well.
  • Hang bundles spaced apart so air can circulate between them. Place paper bags or trays underneath to catch any falling leaves.
  • Check bundles after 1 week. The flowers and leaves should feel crispy dry to the touch when ready.
  • Carefully detach the leaves and flowers. Discard any stems that haven’t fully dried.
  • Flowers take 1-2 weeks to completely air dry. Leaves take 2-3 weeks.

Using a Food Dehydrator

Food dehydrators provide an ideal environment for drying yarrow quickly and efficiently. To use a dehydrator:

  • Lay yarrow flowers and leaves in a single layer on dehydrator trays. Do not overfill trays.
  • Set the temperature between 95-115°F. Drying times vary based on humidity.
  • Check trays every few hours, rotating the trays and shuffling materials.
  • Flowers take 6-12 hours to dehydrate completely. Leaves take 18-24 hours.
  • To test for dryness, flowers should easily crumble in your hand. Leaves should be crispy and crumble easily.
  • Store fully dried yarrow in sealed glass jars out of direct sunlight.

Oven Drying Yarrow

The oven can also be used to dry yarrow at home. This method works best for the flowers. To oven dry:

  • Preheat oven to the lowest temperature, ideally below 200°F.
  • Spread yarrow flowers in a single layer on baking trays. Do not overlap.
  • Place trays on the center oven rack and prop the door open slightly with a wooden spoon.
  • Dry for 2-4 hours, checking every 30 minutes. Flowers are done when brittle and crumbly.
  • Avoid using the oven light which can degrade active compounds in the flowers.
  • Leaves can be oven dried at 100°F but air drying works better to prevent scorching.

Once fully dried, store yarrow in airtight glass jars or containers. Keep in a cool, dark place to preserve potency and shelf life. Always label jars with the herb name and date dried.

Dried Yarrow Uses and Benefits

From teas and tinctures to salves and oils, dried yarrow has a diverse range of beneficial uses:

Yarrow Tea

Yarrow tea is a traditional herbal remedy for reducing inflammation and providing relief from cold, flu, fever, and congestion. It also helps relax muscular aches and cramps.

To make yarrow tea:

  • Use 1-2 teaspoons dried leaves and/or flowers per cup of hot water
  • Steep for 5-10 minutes depending on desired strength
  • Strain tea before drinking
  • Add lemon, honey, or other herbs like mint to improve flavor

Drink 1-3 cups of yarrow tea daily. It has an earthy, bitter taste but can be blended with other herbs to improve flavor.

Yarrow Tincture

As a concentrated herbal extract, yarrow tinctures offer stronger medicinal effects. The active compounds are extracted into alcohol, glycerin, or vinegar. Tinctures are commonly used to:

  • Stop bleeding from wounds when applied externally
  • Alleviate inflammation and joint pain
  • Reduce menstrual cramps and regulate cycles
  • Boost immunity

To make a yarrow tincture:

  • Fill a glass jar halfway with dried flowers and leaves
  • Pour in vodka, glycerin, or apple cider vinegar until material is covered
  • Seal and store in a cool, dark place, shaking daily
  • Strain after 4-6 weeks using a cheesecloth

Dose tinctures by placing drops directly under the tongue or adding to water. Start with 30 drops 3 times a day.

Yarrow Salve

The antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties of yarrow make it an excellent addition to healing salves and balms. Salves can be applied to:

  • Cuts, burns, abrasions to prevent infection
  • Eczema, rashes, and skin irritations
  • Sore muscles and joints

To make a yarrow salve:

  • Create an oil infusion by filling a jar with dried flowers and leaves, then cover with olive or coconut oil.
  • Allow to infuse for 4-6 weeks, shaking daily
  • Strain oil through a cheesecloth and measure out the amount needed
  • Combine infused oil with beeswax to create a salve using a double boiler method
  • Pour salve into containers and allow to set before use

Apply a small amount of yarrow salve to affected areas 1-2 times per day.

Potpourri and Decor

The pretty white or pink flowers of yarrow look beautiful when dried for potpourri, wreaths, arrangement fillers, or other home decor and craft uses.

To dry flowers specifically for decor:

  • Hang small bunches upside down for 1 week until crisp
  • Air dry loose flowers on a baking sheet for 1-2 days
  • Use silica packs or borax powder to thoroughly dry flowers
  • Spray dried flowers with hairspray or floral sealant to help preserve color

Yarrow’s sweet, herbaceous fragrance adds a lovely aroma to potpourri mixes and wreaths. Display in bowls, jars, or small bundles for long lasting enjoyment.

Storing Dried Yarrow Properly

To retain potency and prevent spoilage, be sure to store dried yarrow correctly:

  • Use airtight glass jars or metal tins with tight lids. Opaque containers prevent light exposure.
  • Label each container with the name and date dried.
  • Keep in a cool, dry place away from heat, moisture, and direct light.
  • Ideal storage temperature is 60-75°F in a dark pantry or cupboard.
  • If moisture appears in the jar, use up dried yarrow immediately.
  • Properly stored, dried leaves and flowers last 6-24 months.
  • Freeze extra dried yarrow to extend shelf life up to 5 years. Place glass jars in freezer.

With the simple tips in this guide, you can easily dry yarrow at home to enjoy its versatility and healing benefits all year long. Experiment with making teas, tinctures, oils, salves, and more once you have a supply of dried leaves and flowers on hand.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the best time of day to harvest yarrow?

Harvest yarrow in the morning once dew has dried but before the hot afternoon sun sets in. The essential oil content is highest in the morning. Avoid harvesting in rainy, damp conditions.

Can I dry yarrow in the microwave?

Microwaving is not recommended. It can overheat the flowers quickly, destroying beneficial compounds and oils that give yarrow its medicinal value. Air drying, dehydrating, and oven drying on very low heat are better options.

How long does dried yarrow last?

Properly stored in airtight containers in a cool, dark place, dried yarrow can last 6 months up to 2 years before losing potency. For maximum shelf life, store dried yarrow in the freezer for up to 5 years.

What does yarrow taste like when dried?

Dried yarrow has an earthy, bitter taste. The flavor is strong and herbal. Flowers have a more pleasant, delicate flavor than the leaves. Blend yarrow with lemon, honey, or mint to improve tea taste.

Can I dry yarrow in my garage?

You can dry yarrow bundles by hanging them in a garage as long as the temperature stays fairly consistent between 70-90°F and there is adequate air circulation. Avoid humid, damp garages. Monitor bundles closely for any mold growth.

Is it better to dry yarrow leaves or flowers?

Both the leaves and flowers can be dried. Flowers tend to retain their flavor and aromatic qualities better through drying. Leaves have higher mineral content. For the most benefits, dry some of both plant parts.