Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Backyard Nature Wednesday/Wildflower Wednesday: July images - Joe Pye Weed

If it is July, it must be Joe Pye weed time. This is the month when this plant really gets its blooms going. They are very long lasting, continuing into the end of August or even into September.

Joe Pye weed, Eupatorium purpureum, has begun to come into its own recently. No longer seen by gardeners as just another unwanted weed, the attractive plant has come to be appreciated for its good qualities, namely as a wildlife attractant for habitat gardens. It is especially attractive to butterflies that flock to feed on its sweet nectar.

Interestingly, the plant got its common name from a New England man who used it as a medicinal herb in the treatment of typhus fever. In addition to its medicinal qualities, the plant's flowers and seeds have also been used in producing pink and red dye for textiles.

Joe Pye weed is hardy in zones 4-9 and can be found  growing in thickets and woodlands throughout the eastern half of North America. They can grow quite tall, anywhere between 3 to 12 feet. In my garden, they stay closer to the three foot mark. They are best located at or near the back of the bed to provide focal interest. When conditions are dry, as they have been around here lately, the lower parts of the plant can drop leaves and begin to look rather spindly.

The plant will grow quite happily in full sun to partial shade. I have plants growing in both conditions, and, this year, those in full sun are suffering more than the ones in partial shade. They do prefer moist conditions, so when it is very dry, they may need supplemental water in order to thrive.

This is basically a care-free plant, which is the kind I like best. 
The plants will die back to the ground in winter but come back strong in spring. About the only care needed is to dig and divide the clumps when they get big. This is best done in the spring. 

If you are looking for a native plant to add to your butterfly garden, give Joe Pye weed a chance. You won't be disappointed.

One of my plants growing happily in partial shade.

Today I'm linking up with Gail at Clay and Limestone for her Wildflower Wednesday feature. Coincidentally, she is also featuring Joe Pye weed! You know what they say about great minds... 

9 comments:

  1. Oh my, we are in a long phase of heat and low humidity. Even the plants that are "drought resistant" are complaining. It is amazing to see the difference between plants that get lots of shade and the ones in full sun.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. With temperatures around 100 every day, a little shade is most appreciated.

      Delete
  2. Replies
    1. The butterflies certainly think so.

      Delete
    2. They would certainly know. ;-)

      Delete
  3. It's one of my favorites, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a wonderful plant and deserves wider use.

      Delete
  4. That is a plant I really must add to my garden
    Have a great week!
    Lea

    ReplyDelete