Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium)

If I could only take one perennial with me to a deserted island (and assuming zone plays no part in this fictional game) it would be Eupatorium maculatum (Joe Pye Weed).

joe pye


We’re talking a statuesque plant, a focal point in the garden. We’re talking summer blooms that last for weeks. We’re talking bees, butterflies and birds galore. I could go on and on but let’s make it easier and give you some conveniently bulleted factoids of this fan favorite:

  • The ultimate size is about 6′ x 3′.
  • Survives in zones 4-8.
  • Prefers full sun to partial shade.
  • Blooms are a pink/mauve color from late Summer to early Fall.
  • As mentioned previously, the blooms attract bees, butterflies and birds.
  • Prefers medium to wet soil conditions but should never be left to dry out.
  • They can be left up for Winter and from personal experience, have managed to stay upright even during decent snowstorms.
  • These ladies are native to the Northeast in wetlands and moist meadows.
  • Beyond the blooms and attraction to wildlife, they lend an almost architectural vibe to a mixed border with their strong stems and height.
  • I have had deer chomp these only once and it actually created a layered effect that was pretty cool as a result. A deer prune if you will.
  • You can prune these in early Summer to control the height (more on that in a bit) and not affect the blooms too dramatically.
  • Joe Pye Weed is named after a Native American named “Jopi”, who was from a New England tribe and traveled widely during the American Revolution selling this plant as an herbal remedy for typhoid fever.

Some additional photos:

These plants are slow to emerge in the spring as they do not appear for me until early May.

joe pye weed








But once they appear, they really take off with the warming temps.







By the end of July/early August, here in zone 6, the Joe Pye Weed blooms are fully developed:

joe pye


joe pye 2








And do they ever draw in the butterflies:


joe pye weed







And the birds:

5 year6







By early September, as the blooms start to fade and the foliage begins it’s inevitable decline, it still looks damn good:

joe pye pennisetum

miscanthus and pye








Even after the first frost, Joe Pye Weed still makes a statement.

joe pye


And while it is fleeting, the yellow fall color lends itself well to the landscape.







In winter, still quite awesome.

joe pye winter






As I mentioned previously, I have experimented with pruning these for size control and for a layering effect and you can read more about the results here.

I simply pinched back the new growth in early June.

joe prune 2






joe prune 3







And within a week or so, the new growth appeared.

joe prune 4







It all led to a kind of cool layered effect, if that is your thang.

joe prune






Or simply leave it alone and it will dominate in your garden, assuming you have the space. I’ve also added smaller options as well, like ‘Little Joe’, which may be a better fit for you.

14 thoughts on “Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium)

  1. Rosey

    Thanks for the tips about J pye weed. I haven’t tried it…it would probably not be a long enough season. I am so glad you can grow it because the birds sure love it!

  2. That Bloomin' Garden

    Joe Pye Weed is one of the most popular plants over the last couple of years. I heard it was the perennial of the year for 2010. I love the butterflies it attracts and it makes such a majestic statement in the garden.

  3. Laura

    I’ll have to keep my eye open for this one! I love anything that brings the butterflies! The upright structure is also very nice!

  4. Jess

    I’ve thought about planting some of this before, but I know in my heart it will always be a struggle in my dry sandy zippo water retentive soil. I do see them growing in mass stand sometime along roadside ditches, and they sure look pretty (and tall) there.

  5. Stephanie

    Hello! nice to know you 😉

    What a unique plant!… attracts all three wonderful creatures – butterfly, bird and bees. I like the colour of the flowers – so sweet!

  6. Vetsy

    Thank you for stopping by my blog
    ( Thoughts to ponder”) Sorry I’m late responding.. I have been so busy with my other blog ( Vetsy’s View ) that I forgot to check my other blog.. Oops!

    I love this post on Joe Pye weed I did learn something today for coming by.. I always wondered who that Joe Pye guy was.

    I pass it all the time at the garden centers, never able to make up my mind about adding it..

    Now Thanks to You, I made up my mind, I will certainly find a spot for it next year.. By the way I love the free, breezy opened style of your garden..It looks so natural and unrestricted..

  7. Corner Gardener Sue

    Hi, I came across this post trying to see if I can figure out whether the joe pye weed I planted is the native one or ‘Gateway’. I had one or the other in a different spot for a number of years, but it didn’t get as much water as it wanted or something, and didn’t do well. The one I have had for about 3 or 4 years now is very happy.

    I also have a ‘Chocolate’ one, which shrivels when it’s hot, but comes out of it and has nice light colored blooms, later than the native or ‘Gateway’. I also have a variegated one, ‘Prairie Jewel’ that blooms around the same time as ‘Chocolate’.

    My post today has the native or ‘Gateway’ plant I’m checking on. I should have done that before doing the post.

    Nice post!

  8. TerryR

    ‘Gateway’ has been a stellar performer in my zone 3 garden near Edmonton, Alberta. I’ve divided it repeatedly and have the majestic plant placed throughout my garden. People always point to it with enthusiasm and I’m happy to give them division in spring. I also have the somewhat more compact growing ‘Phantom’ and am eagerly seeking to acquire variegated forms such as ‘Pink Frost’ and ‘Prairie Jewel’!

  9. Susan Hunter

    This is my all-time favorite eastern native plant. I used it in bouquets in my Bucks Co. wedding 44 years ago.


    1. jmarkowski Post author

      The best and hence why it was the #1 plant in my garden as voted … by well … me. Ha.

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