Joe Pye Weed – Eutrochium purpureum
Native to wooded slopes, wet meadows, thickets and streams of the eastern and northern United States, Joe Pye weed is better known as a garden plant in England than here in its homeland. Stunning in size (4-7’ tall) Joe Pye weed is an impressive plant of the aster (Asteraceae) family whose stout, arching stems are awhirl with large serrated leaves and topped with domes of small flowers rich in nectar and pollen.
To create a colorful border guaranteed to attract butterflies and other pollinators, plant Joe Pye weed with Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England asters), Liatris (gayfeather), Lobelia, Monarda (bee balm) and Sambucus (elderberry). Include a shallow bowl of water and steer clear of pesticides. Joe Pye weed adds architectural beauty to large-scale borders, bogs, and butterfly gardens, as well as naturalistic and New American-style gardens. This tall perennial blooms mid-summer to fall, is undemanding, and thrives in full sun to part-shade. Joe Pye weed can also be part of a dramatic cut flower arrangement.
Good news for busy gardeners: Joe Pye weed has no known serious insect or disease problems. Leaves may scorch if soils are allowed to dry out. For ease of maintenance, pinch the tips in early summer to produce bushier plants. Flowers give way to attractive seed heads which persist well into winter. Cut to the ground in late winter.
Currently, Joe Pye Weed is blooming in the English Garden at Idaho Botanical Garden.
Brenzel, Kathleen Norris, ed. The New Sunset Western Garden Book. New York: Oxmoor House, 2012.
Noordhuis, Klaas and Tomlinson, David, ed. The Garden Plants Encyclopedia. Buffalo, NY: Firefly Books, 1995.
Roth, Susan A., ed. Better Homes and Gardens Complete Guide to Flower Gardening. Des Moines, IA: Meredith Books, 1995.
Written by IBG gardener, Paul Rodgers.