Tag Archives: Prune in June

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.

“Prune in June” – Sneezeweed

Quick one today as I continue with my 2nd year of doing the “Prune in June” series.
I cut back one Sneezeweed (Helenium) by 1/2 in mid June last year hoping it would bloom without falling over. Here is that plant a few weeks later:  
After further review, this was due to really poor drainage in this spot more than anything else.
Another Sneezeweed that was cut back by 1/2 bloomed at a much smaller height and did manage to stay upright.
A third plant was left untouched but had sufficient support when it bloomed at close to four feet tall.
Now we fast forward to 2013. 
The Sneeezeweed that was located in poor drainage has been moved to a new spot, chowed down multiple times by a family of rabbits and will not be part of this pruning experiment.
The other two have been cut back by 1/2 a few weeks later than last year:    

Now we kick back and wait.

“Prune in June” – Boltonia

Here in zone 6B New Jersey, Boltonia typically blooms in late August/September and any blooms that time of year cannot be understated. They have a fantastic flower color and can be statuesque if situated in the right spot where they can be supported by other plants.

Unfortunately, I have struggled to get these perennials to NOT topple over once in full bloom:   

Last year, I finally took things into my own hands and cut them back by 1/2 in early June. By the time they started blooming in September, they were about a foot shorter than normal at 2 1/2 feet:   

The results were a marked improvement from prior years but I still think I can do better and keep them even more upright.
So this year, I waited two weeks longer before cutting the three Boltonia back by 1/2:
Now we wait and see if this will make a difference at all.
Have a great weekend.

“Prune in June” is back – Sedum ‘Autumn Fire’

Last June, I started my “Prune in June” series covering perennials I cut or pinched back in June to control the ultimate height and/or look of said perennials. June has come and gone already, but I logged my cutting back of these same perennials to once again closely analyze the results.

Today, we are talking Sedum ‘Autumn Fire’ but my guess is this same approach can be applied to other upright Sedum cultivars.

As a recap, here is what a pinched plant looked like by late Summer:

And a photo of an unpinched one:

A pinched plant in October:

And again, an un-pinched plant at that same time:

As you can see, the pinched plant bloomed later (by about 1 – 2 weeks) and provided extended color deeper into the Fall. That works for me.

The number of blooms on each stem was also greater on the pinched back plant which gave the Sedum a “fuller” look. Again, a win.

So for 2013, I pinched back each and every bud on each and every Sedum ‘Autumn Fire’ plant. Here is how they looked pre-pinching:

And how they now look post-pinching:

As I did last year, I’ll be tracking the results throughout the Summer/Fall. This is life changing info we all need and I am here to provide just that for you.

You are most welcome.