Tag Archives: joe pye weed

Fountain Grass and Joe Pye Weed

Ladies and gents, how would you like a fool-proof plant combo that requires virtually no upkeep and comes back bigger and better each and every year?

I give you Fountain Grass and Joe Pye Weed.

Or for those of you who dabble in plant snobbery like I do, I give you Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’ and Eupatorium maculatum ‘Gateway’.

If you’ve been here before, you know that I’ve written about Joe Pye Weed like 3,218 times in the past because it is that phenomenal. If you’d like to read up on the specifics of this perennial, check out the following before proceeding.

Joe Pye Weed

And know I love it most for this.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk some Fountain Grass:

  • Size: 2.5 x 2.5
  • Zone : 5-9
  • Bloom: August – October
  • Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • Moisture: Medium to wet

Like almost all other ornamental grasses, Pennisetum is deer resistant.

It’s a warm season grass meaning it won’t start putting out new growth until the soil temps warm up in mid to late spring.

‘Hameln’ is a smaller Pennisetum cultivar maxing out at no more than 3′ high and 3′ wide. It can easily fit into any-sized garden.

The beauty of both ‘Hameln’ and ‘Gateway’ is that they can both be easily found at almost any nursery or garden center.

When these two are first blooming in August, they look tremendous together.

And still great a month later in September.

Maybe it’s an acquired taste, but I still love this combo in November.

The bottlebrush-like blooms of Pennisetum contrast nicely with the Joe Pye Weed flowers.

The only maintenance required for both is to cut them to the ground in late winter each year.

That’s it.














Garden bliss

Today was one of those magical garden days where I was incapable of thought.

Incapable of planning.

Incapable of finding fault.

Incapable of tinkering and pulling and snipping.

The garden just was and that felt fucking awesome.

I appreciated all that it took for these visitors to make it here and personally thanked them for bringing my garden to life.

butterfly joe pye 2


butterfly joe pye


joe pye butterfly 2


joe pye butterfly


I wish I could remember the exact day when I allowed Joe Pye Weed to come into my life. Because that day should be celebrated each year.

joe pye playroom bed


playroom bed


planter bed


There is nothing like the feeling of the sun burning your neck, the dirt under your fingernails and the feeling of warm earth in your fingertips. But it can be eye opening and rewarding to take a step back and enjoy the fruits of your labor every once in a while.

side bed 4

and then stepping back some more …

side bed 3

and some more …

side bed 2

Shit, I created that and it’s kind of great.

When this blissful type of day arrives, I can even tolerate the clashing of colors because they had to bloom their asses off to clash in the first place.

dwarf sneeze

So why not enjoy them for what they are on their own and not sweat how they interact with others. The fleeting nature of flowers/perennials is why we love them so damn much.

dwarf sneeze 2


The fading of flowers is part of the process and one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned over the years. Sure, I could cut the spent blooms to promote new blooms and keep things all tidy and sometimes I’ll do just that. But allowing the blooms to fade gracefully while others take the lead role just feels right. Take yourself out of the equation.

white coneflower


coneflower susan


And some times plant combos create themselves through some sort of divine intervention. Like this Anemone bloom crawling up inside this Blue Grama Grass. I have no memories of planting this Anemone and have never successfully seen one bloom in my own garden. Now we sit back and enjoy.

blonde ambition anemone

QOTD – Who is better, “Blissful John” or “Let’s take all the fun and enjoyment out of gardening John”? Not that I can control who appears when, but I’m curious just the same.





An update on my garden

Some quick thoughts on some of the plants in my garden:

Loving the deep red color of Penstemon ‘Husker’s Red’ right now but can do without the blooms. I usually cut them off early in hopes of preserving the foliage color into summer. Will do so again this year.

salix penstemon


It may be time to give up on Ligularia ‘Britt Marie Crawford’ as it declines rapidly by summer and as you can see here, never displays that dark foliage color as promised. It gets the necessary afternoon shade and moisture is never an issue.

Ligularia britt marie crawford


I cannot get enough of Juniper ‘Gold Cone’, especially when the new growth emerges and really brightens up the shrub/tree in spring. No deer issues, doesn’t seem to be bothered by the poor draining soil and has retained it’s great color through two full years now.

juniper gold cone


For some reason I get more pumped for the return of Joe Pye Weed than I do for any other perennial. I have so many different cultivars and have lost track of what I have planted where. Such a reliable performer and stand-out in all ways possible.

joe pye


I wish peonies remained forever in bud. The anticipation blows away the actual blooms which say goodbye way too soon each year.



I finally added a trellis to the garden so my one Clematis can climb aboard. The only blooms so far are along the ground so hopefully I’ll get a shot of the vine actually climbing the trellis with blooms aplenty. Then I’ll be awesome.



The Allium are coming. And I added a lot this year. Sigh …


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.

Photobombed by Joe Pye

According to Wikipedia, photobombing is defined as “the act of accidentally or purposely putting oneself into the view of a photograph, often in order to play a practical joke on the photographer or the subjects.”

Most of you are probably already aware of the years old photobombing phenomenon, but if not, consider yourself educated.

You are welcome.

If you were to visit my garden from early July through the end of October and tried to take a photo of any of the plants, I can guarantee you would be photobombed by a Joe Pye Weed plant. You cannot escape them.

I was off from work yesterday, it wasn’t terribly sunny and the kids seemed occupied and in no need of Dad time. That meant a nice and long photo shoot was in order.

As you will now see, even though I put in quite the effort to photograph the garden and avoid the obnoxious Joseph Pye, I failed miserably.

joe pye and grass


joe pye northwind


joe pye boltonia


joe pye boltonia 2


joe pye and rots


joe pye and grasses


playroom bed fall 2


grass side bed


joe pye grasses


planter bed

It may have been funny the first time, but after that I wasn’t laughing any more. I guess that is what I deserve after buying every cultivar I could get my hands on.


















“Joey Pye and the Grasses”

If I had to sum up my garden in let’s say, six words, and if it also had to be a killer name for a rock band,  it would be “Joey Pye and the Grasses”.  Phenomenal, right? Can’t you just imagine the band logo?

I have gathered quite a few Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium) plants over the years. I can always find room for one more and have no issue tucking them into tight spots. If I measured “square feet taken up by particular plants”, ornamental grasses would be the winner with Joe Pye coming in 2nd place.

It all started with a few 6 foot tall Eupatorium purpureum and eventually evolved into smaller cultivars as well. They seem to work with everything; other summer blooming perennials, shrubs and ornamental grasses to name a few.

These are absolutely the most reliable perennials in my garden and the deer and rabbits leave them alone.  I have some in full sun, others in partial sun, some in waterlogged soil and others in drier soil. They thrive everywhere.

Have I mentioned that the critters totally dig them?

joe pye weed

Here are a few in bloom as of this week.






If you look closely at the three photos above, you’ll notice that there are grasses in the vicinity of all of the Joey Pyes. Go ahead, take a closer look … I’ll wait.

In a few more weeks, the Eupatorium and ornamental grasses will really start to take over. You’ll notice it as a common theme in most of my August/September blog posts.

Speaking of grasses …

Karl Foerster has been blooming for a few weeks now.


And are a nice backdrop for summer blooming perennials.


Panicum ‘Northwind’ (imagine me now dropping the mic and walking off stage). That is an indication of their awesomeness factor.




Other Panicum, like ‘Heavy Metal’ are showing signs of initial bloom.


And Panicum ‘Rots’ has that initial red coloring we all know and love.


Speaking in very general terms, I find myself disliking Miscanthus more and more. While the ‘purpurascens’ below has off the charts great fall color, they have no real shape or impact until that point.


Speaking of “lack of shape’, Pennisetum ‘Karley Rose’ has none and most likely needs division in the near future.


Many more grass discussions to come in the very near future.





Deer resistant perennials for wet soil

A friend in town, who only recently became aware of this life changing blog, asked me for some plant recommendations. Oh shit. Typically I am not a fan of doling out plant advice because the pressure can become crippling.

If the recommended plant doesn’t survive, I’m scorned at the next basketball game.

If the suggested choice can’t be found at the local nursery, I’m no longer trusted and the kids aren’t invited to any more birthday parties.

But I’m putting it all on the line today.

Without fear.

I am that confident with the choices I’m about to offer up. The following perennials (staying away from grasses for now; he’ll have to buy me lunch first) are very specific to the conditions we have here in zone 6B New Jersey. Throw in deer and rabbits galore.  And a high water table which leads to very poor draining soil.

So my local homey, here are the top 7 perennials that I can vouch for based on my personal experience. Each has thrived for at least 5 years running and all show no signs of slowing down.

Click on the hyperlink for each plant name for additional info where applicable.

You are welcome in advance.

#1 – Joe Pye Weed close to 6 feet tall, blooms are long lasting, attracts numerous critters  and looks good all the way into the fall.

joe pye weed

joe pye and miscanthus


#2 – Amsoniathe deer have never touched it, great bluish blooms in spring followed by fine textured foliage all summer. But Fall is when it shines with unbelievable colors ranging from yellow to orange.   





#3 – Astilbeno critter has ever touched it, appreciates oodles of moisture, blooms in white and pink and red in late spring and the fern like foliage separates itself from others.   




#4 – Bee Balmthe scent keeps the deer at bay, the bees flock to it and the blooms last all summer and even into fall. I personally love the taller options which make their presence known in the garden.




#5 – Purple Coneflower – yes they are everywhere but it is still an oldie but goodie. Multiplies like mad so there is a full supply year to year. Consistent blooms without a care in the world.   




#6 – Lobelia – cherishes the waterlogged soil and provides late summer blooms.


blue lob


#7 – Mountain Mint not the showiest, but what a critter magnet. I could stand over these in bloom all day.



We’ll talk again in spring dude but start doing your homework now if you want to continue to hang with me.

Through the Seasons

Each season has its own unique beauty in the garden and dammit, that is why I love this gardening thing so much. It is never dull and in constant motion in a wonderfully subtle way.

With that theme in mind, there are some photo sets below depicting the same section of garden at different times this year. The first photo in each set is from current day. The subsequent photos then move backwards in time throughout the 2014 gardening season.


Eupatorium maculatum (Joe Pye Weed) in front of Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’:


joe pye


joe pye and miscanthus



Sedum ‘Autumn Fire’, Viburnum carlesii ‘Aurora’, Miscanthus purpurascens (Flame Grass) and Miscanthus ‘Gracillimus’:





vib whites


Panicum ‘Rots’, Viburnum bracteatum ‘Emerald Lustre’, Miscanthus ‘Variegatus’:


grasses fall color




ornamental grass snow


Weigela ‘Wine and Roses’, Purple coneflower, Perovskia (Russian Sage):




Similar plants as listed above but from a different angle:




Barberry, Iris versicolor, Clethra ‘Hummingbird’, Monarda (Bee Balm), etc.:






A little bit of everything:





Looking through Physocarpus (Ninebark) ‘Diablo’ to the aforementioned Joe Pye Weed/Miscanthus combo: