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).
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:
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:
And do they ever draw in the butterflies:
And the birds:
By early September, as the blooms start to fade and the foliage begins it’s inevitable decline, it still looks damn good:
Even after the first frost, Joe Pye Weed still makes a statement.
And while it is fleeting, the yellow fall color lends itself well to the landscape.
In winter, still quite awesome.
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.
And within a week or so, the new growth appeared.
It all led to a kind of cool layered effect, if that is your thang.
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.