For best results, plant your jewelweed seeds in the early spring, when the temperatures are still cool but there’s enough sunlight to support the germination process.
Though the jewelweed can survive even in waterlogged soil, you’ll want to aim to keep the soil evenly moist, and applying a thick mulch can help.
The jewelweed should be planted in a location that’s exposed to either full sun or partial shade. These plants can tolerate more sun when planted in climates with cooler summers.
Tthe jewelweed plant is very vulnerable to frost at any stage of its growth, and it will die when exposed to extremely cold temperatures.
Jewelweed plants grow higher when they are located in clusters, so if seeds are sown close together, the plants can help support each other and develop taller stems. If you’d like to keep your jewelweed plants on the shorter side, be sure to space the seeds farther apart.
The jewelweed plant requires a rich, organic soil that remains moist. If the soil lacks organic matter when planting, you can dig in a thick layer of compost (or even rotted manure) before planting.
The jewelweed is considered an easy plant to grow and will require little hands-on care once it’s established, providing it’s planted in an area where the soil remains moist. Better yet, the dense growth of these plants can actually help discourage the development of weeds.
Folklore tells us that wherever you find a toxic plant, you will find its remedy growing nearby. It’s a nice idea, but it may not be true. That said, you will probably find poison ivy growing near jewelweed, so use caution and be careful not to touch when you are searching for this plant.
Kathy J. has been learning and teaching kids about nature for more than 20 years. She collects bugs, watches squirrels, does not get a rash from poison ivy, practices “snacker” behavior in winter, and is always on alert for interesting plants and animals. When she’s not watching something in the trees or spending time with her teenage daughters, she’s overseeing programs for teachers and students at the Garden. View all posts by Kathy J.
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Finding jewelweed in the forest right now may be a little tricky because there aren’t many flowers remaining. Get to know the leaves—they are oval-shaped with a gently pointed tip, and have slightly toothed edges. The stem is thick and a translucent light green.
You can’t miss the orange flowers of this jewelweed, but look closer to find the seedpod hanging below and to the right of the third blossom.
We have to assume that someone called it “touch-me-not” after touching a seedpod and having the seeds shoot at him. Maybe it seemed as if the plant was reacting negatively to his touch. Rather than a defense mechanism, shooting seeds is an effective dispersal strategy, as it sends the seeds away from the mother plant where they might have a better chance to sprout and grow.
When you walk through natural wooded areas like McDonald Woods, you may find this plant:
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That being said, any plant that takes over a hillside as it has at your place, might need to be controlled. Organic and/or conventional foliar herbicides aren’t very effective against jewelweed simply because its succulent foliage causes these water-based products to bead on the leaf surface, preventing the product from getting absorbed and taking effect.
Q: I have some weeds growing on a hillside in my yard and I don’t know what they are. The stems are hollow and full of liquid and they have spread everywhere. I would like to know what they are and how to get rid of them.
Jewelweed is a Pennsylvania native with an interesting story. It is an annual that spreads via seeds and can grow up to 6 feet tall. The plant is succulent (its tissues and hollow stem can hold a lot of water) and the sap that is produced from the stem was — and is — commonly used to relieve the itching from a poison ivy rash. The Native Americans used it for any number of skin ailments, including bee stings and insect bites.
Jewelweed is a close relative of impatiens and generally prefers wet soil and semi-shaded sites. The elongated flowers are favorites of hummingbirds and some species of butterflies, making them a “not-so-bad wildflower” in my book, rather than a weed.