How to Grow: Joe Pye Weed

Listen to this podcast about growing and caring for Joe Pye weed perennial flowers.

Joe Pye Weed, Butterfly, Flowers, Yellow, Pink

I love plants with interesting stories. Take Eutrochium purpureum. Don’t know that plant? Well, I’ll tell you a story that will make it much more familiar. Back in colonial times there was always a constant threat of typhoid fever. Luckily there was a Native American medicine man who knew that a tea made from a certain wild plant would help cure the disease. He saved the colonists and the man’s name became synonymous with the plant; Joe Pye Weed.

Joe Pye weed is blooming now in wetlands, gardens and woodland edges. It’s a favorite of bees and butterflies with purple flowers that have a slight vanilla scent. The wild species grows 6 to 7 feet tall. Some selections have different colors such as the white ‘Bartered Bride’ and the pink ‘Carin’. For a variety more manageable, try ‘Little Joe’ that grows 4 to 5 feet tall or ‘Baby Joe’ only grows 2 to 3 feet tall. Another way to reduce the height is to cut back the plant to 2 feet tall in late spring. This will delay flowering and produce smaller sized blooms, but the plant will be significantly dwarfed.

Joe pye weed likes a consistently moist soil. Plant in a compost amended bed and keep well watered or the plant may wilt. That obviously hasn’t been an issue this summer.

Tall Joe pye weed plants can be a beast in the garden. Plant it in back of borders or grouped together with shrubs. It makes an excellent pollinator or butterfly garden plant and a nice addition around a pond or stream’s edge. You’ll learn to appreciate the late summer flowers and hardiness of this native beauty.

Excerpted form the Vermont Garden Journal on Vermont Public Radio.

Go here to watch a video on how to divide perennial flowers.