Joe Pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum) is a late-blooming wildflower that’s native to eastern and central North America. It generally grows in upright clumps that reach several feet tall. Its thick stems have lance-shaped, serrated dark green leaves that can be up to a foot long. And in the midsummer tiny mauve flowers bloom in large clusters atop the stems. These flowers have a sweet vanilla scent and are especially attractive to butterflies and other pollinators. Joe Pye weed is best planted in the spring after the threat of frost has passed. The plant has a fast growth rate.
Maintaining consistent soil moisture is key for growing robust Joe Pye weed. During your plant’s first growing season, keep the soil evenly moist at all times but not soggy. And even once the plant is mature, try not to let the soil remain dry for more than a few days at a time, especially during hot weather. A layer of mulch around your plant will help to retain soil moisture and keep the roots cool.
Joe Pye Weed Care
Division is the easiest way to propagate mature Joe Pye weed plants. To divide a plant, cut straight down into the soil with a sharp shovel in between stems. Then, carefully dig up a stem and its attached roots. Replant it wherever you wish at the same soil depth as it was, and water the soil well.
Joe Pye weed is a fairly low-maintenance plant, and it’s quite rewarding to grow due to its notable size and fragrant blooms. It does need space when you first plant it to accommodate its height and spread. But it can look great planted along borders, in wildflower gardens, and at the back of plant groupings to provide height.
This wildflower is adaptable to different soil conditions. A fairly rich, well-drained soil is ideal. The plant is tolerant of clay soil and wet soil, and mature plants even have some tolerance for drought.
Joe Pye Weed, with its large clusters of tubular flowers, is an important native food source for wildlife. First, nectar-rich blooms attract a variety of bees and butterflies. The butterfly species that you can expect to see include skippers, fritillaries, and swallowtails.
Powdery mildew can affect many plant species. It overwinters in the soil, and the spores spread to other plants in the wind. Powdery mildew thrives in high heat and humidity and shady areas with poor air circulation.
Here is the Joe Pye Weed cultivar that is growing in my backyard:
It can be devastating when pests and diseases impact your garden. Thankfully, Joe Pye Weed tends to be relatively free of most of these problems!
Any plants that are killed by powdery mildew should be destroyed to avoid contaminating your compost or soil.
Joe Pye Weed is easy to start from seed. And once it’s established, it can spread quite easily, so keep this in mind when selecting a planting site.