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planting joe pye weed seeds

Plan to start your seeds indoors about 4-6 weeks before your last average frost date in spring. You can use plug trays to seed a lot of plants or small containers if you only want to grow a few.


Most cultivars have pink or purple flowers, although a few have pure white blooms. Some have the added interest of red to purple stems, and ‘Chocolate’ has dark bronze leaves.

How to Grow Joe Pye Weed

Make sure you water your small plants well by soaking the soil around them (not the leaves). Keep them regularly watered for the next few weeks while they get established.

Joe Pye weed doesn’t need much, if any, fertilizer. Side dressing with compost once or twice a year will be more than enough.

Mix a soilless seed starting medium with enough water to get it damp. Fill up your trays or pots with the dampened mix and sow your seeds on top. Lightly press them into the soil, but don’t cover them.

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.

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.

Propagating Joe Pye Weed

Once cold weather arrives in the late fall, Joe Pye weed goes dormant and dies back. You can either prune the dead foliage to about 4 to 8 inches off the ground at this time or wait until early spring to do this garden cleanup task. The plant blooms on the new season’s growth. So don’t wait until it’s too late in the spring to prune, or it can be difficult to avoid the new growth.

Joe Pye weed is fairly hardy both to cold and to heat within the climates of its growing zones. Frost will cause the plant to begin dying back to the ground for the winter. Humidity (or lack thereof) typically isn’t an issue as long as the soil remains moist.

If you are growing Joe Pye weed in its native fertile environment, you generally won’t have to feed it. But if you have poor soil, apply a slow-release granule fertilizer for flowering plants in the spring as soon as growth picks up on your plant. Fertilize again in the midsummer when blooms begin to appear. It also can be beneficial to mix compost into the soil around your plant in the spring.

If you wish, you can limit the overall size of your Joe Pye weed by cutting the stems back by half in June. This will cause the plant to send out more stems and encourage shorter, bushier growth. Consequently, you’ll get even more flowers on those new stems.