Fantastic Design Plant: Joe Pye Weed

Sometimes we dismiss a great design plant because we’re more used to watching it over the street than at a manicured backyard, or because it has the word”marijuana” in its ordinary name. Joe Pye weed is one such plant. This indigenous, frequently overlooked beauty grows up to 7 feet tall, adds showy purplish blossoms in late summer to early fall and can be quite simple to grow straight out of seeds.

Its colours and textures produce dramatic clusters and draw butterflies to the garden, and Joe Pye weed thrives in those tricky areas where water stands after a storm. Get to know Joe and decide if you’d like him to come over and hang out in your lawn.

Botanical name: Eutrochium purpureum (previously Eupatorium purpureum)

Common title: Joe Pye weed (other, more common, common names include Queen of the Meadow and Snakeroot)

USDA zones: 5-10

Water necessity: Moist. Grows nicely along ponds, wetlands and streams. Soil should be damp.

Light requirement: Full sun to light shade

Mature size: The conventional native plant can grow up to 7 feet tall and 4 ft wide, but you can find dwarf varieties available that grow to about 4 ft high, such as E. purpureum’Little Joe.’

Tolerances: Requires damp soil; can withstand hot full sun

Seasonal attention: This native plant is a late bloomer, with large, showy purple-mauve-ish blossoms. Its blossoms will continue into early fall.

Best time to plant: Fall. Joe Pye weed can be grown quite easily from seed, or even out of container crops, which are easily available in nurseries.

Interesting fact: Joe Pye weed is an herb that was mainly used medicinally for many years; some believed it inoculated individuals against poisons. One legend has it that the plant is named after a Native American called Joe Pye, who used it to heal typhus.

Barbara Pintozzi

Distinguishing attributes: Joe Pye weed (seen here amid purple coneflower) includes a wonderful all-natural appearance; it’s a native plant we frequently see in the end of wetlands or drainage ditches on the side of the street. The flowers form large clusters that have a general domed shape.

Joe Pye weed attracts hummingbirds, bees and butterflies, which will add much more life and color to your backyard.

Milieu Design

The best way to use itChoreographing fall bloomers can be complicated. But when you plant clusters of Joe Pye weed from the perennial mix, in border gardens and along wet locations, you will make certain to receive a burst of purple in late summer or early fall.

The plant’s soft colours coordinate with a wide array of foliage and blossoms, whether it be the yellows of Black-eyed Susans or goldenrod, additional colors of purple from fall-blooming asters and mums, or even a gray-green background of blue spruce. You might also want to use it with other butterfly-attracting plants like butterfly bush, coneflower or lantana.


Planting notes: There are several simple methods to plant Joe Pye weed.
Start seeds indoors in late spring and then transplant them outside in the late summer or early fall. Directly plant seeds into the soil in the fall. Purchase container plants in the nursery and plant them at the fall.If you plant out of containers, make sure that the soil never dries out for more than a day or two. Since each plant can get very large, look at the seed package or plant label to determine how much space to leave between crops.

Keep the soil damp, especially for the month following planting. You may split Joe Pye weed every couple of years. Cut the plants back to about 6 inches from the spring. To create your crops shorter and fuller, pinch them back into the early summer.

Watch more guides to good design plants

See related