Joe Pye Weed – Nectar Plant for a large variety of butterflies and other pollinators
This is a impressive plant that could be used to add focal interest to many different gardens. Even though it carries “weed” in its name, it is far from being unwanted! It produces beautiful flowers attracting butterflies such as: Monarchs, Swallowtails, Varigated and Gulf Fritillaries, Skippers, Little Glasswings, Red Admirals, Red Spotted Purples, American Ladies and more. Joe Pye Weed (also known as Spotted Joe Pye Weed) is found naturally in thickets, woodlands, marshy areas and pond edges throughout Eastern North America, from Maine to Michigan, south to central Florida and Texas. This variety is hardy in USDA zone 3-9.
Caring for Joe Pye Weed
Eutrochium maculatum is a herbaceous perennial from the Ateraceae family. Formerly, it was known as Eupatorium maculatum and you will often see this name in place of Eutrochium.
It should be planted in full sun to part shade, in somewhat moist, average to rich soil. If in areas of hot, dry summers, it should be planted in partial shade. Also, it is recommended to add a layer of mulch around the plant to help it maintain moisture. It enjoys regular, deep watering and it will withstand heat and drought fairly well when the soil is kept moist or some shade is provided. Joe Pye Weed dies down in late fall. It can be cut back or left over winter and cut in spring.When the center of mature specimens die out, they should be divided (during early spring or fall). The whole root ball should be dug up, then cut and discard the dead center and replant the divided clumps.
Characteristics of Eutrochium Maculatum
This plant is extravagant with its bundles of mauve/pink, showy, lightly fragrant blooms. In general, they are large (3-6″ across), domed of flat-topped clusters of little tubular disks of flowers. Smaller bunches of flowerheads may develop below on different stems. Typical blooming time is from July to September. The florets are replaced by achenes with tiny tufts of bristly hair that assists them to get scattered by the wind. Plants usually grow from 4-7′ tall or even taller if favorable growing conditions are present. They could be trimmed in spring if it’s desired for them to be to be shorter and bushier, but it might be at the expense of lesser, smaller blooms. Their stems are branched, purple-speckled with notched, lance-shaped, medium green leaves (8-10″ long) that are present in swirls of 3-6. The roots systems are fibrous and rhizomatous.
Which Eutrochium to Plant?
If you would love to grow the Spotted Joe Pye Weed, but don’t have a sunny enough spot for it, then you have the option of switching to the Sweet Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium purpureum) which grows in partial to full shade. Both varieties are related to Boneset and they have very similar characteristics. Sweet Joe does not have the purple spotted stems, but it does have deep purple hue at the leaf and flower stem nodules. Also, this one might grow taller and its flower heads are more flat (instead of domed) and vanilla scented.
Starting Joe Pye Weed Seeds – Propagation
Joe Pye Weed can be divided in early spring or fall.
It might be harder to start them from seeds, but it can be done outdoors in fall or in a greenhouse in early spring. The seeds require 30 days of cold stratification (keep in moist medium in the refrigerator). Do not cover them when planting, as they need light to germinate (may take 2-3 weeks for them to sprout) and keep them moist.
Why Spotted Joe-Pye Weed?
This very low maintenance perennial is simply stunning when planted in groups or massed. It does require large space, but it’s strong architectural aspect makes it a great candidate for the focal point or the back of borders, cottage gardens, meadows, native plant gardens, wild/naturalized areas and of course, part of butterfly gardens. It makes a good companion to the Buttonbush as they favor similar growing conditions. Besides its benefits to all kinds of butterflies and pollinators, the seed heads provide nesting materials for birds. So, go ahead and make some room for the wonderful Joe Pye Weed!