Eutrochium purpureum is an alluring species of herbaceous flowering plants in the Asteraceae family. This flower goes by many common names including Joe-Pye Weed, Kidney-Root, Sweet-Scented Joe-Pye Weed, Gravel Root, Feverweed, and Trumpet Weed. It is native to several regions of central and eastern North America, with some specimens also occurring in southern areas.
Although many gardeners appreciate Joe-Pye weeds for their colourful appearance, they go beyond their basic ornamental purposes. These plants come along with clusters of vanilla-scented flowers that can mesmerize your senses from mid-summer through early fall. And what can be more relaxing than passing by your fragrant babies when they are in full bloom?
Joe-Pye weeds are versatile plants that look absolutely fabulous near other species of flowering plants or ornamental grasses. The most popular companions for these flowers are Great Blue Lobelia, Indian Grass, New England Aster, Rough Goldenrod, Rudbeckia ‘Autumn Sun’, and Wild Bergamot.
About Joe-Pye Weed
- Their common name “Joe-Pye weed” comes from an Indian healer known as Joe Pye. This healer used E. purpureum to treat various health problems including fever.
- In traditional medicine, these plants worked as an excellent treatment for typhus outbreaks, urinary tract ailments, or kidney stones. They have tonic, diuretic, astringent, and nervine properties.
- Nowadays, some people harvest the flower stems and leaves of Joe-Pye weeds before the buds open to dry and use them for later. In the past, folks used their stems as straws.
- The ashes of their burnt herbal roots can serve as a nice salty flavour for numerous food recipes. Their crushed fruits result in a pink to reddish textile dye.
- Joe-Pye weeds are very adaptable to most garden conditions. They are ideal ornamentals for wild gardens, coastal gardens, cottage gardens, borders, meadows, or near streams and ponds.
- Thanks to their spectacular clusters of flowers and unique style, they have gained the well-known Award of Garden Merit.
- These plants play a big part in the overall well-being of the ecosystem. Their flowers are very attractive to numerous species of pollinators like butterflies, bees, flies, and moths.
- Joe-Pye weeds are larval hosts to several species of moths, such as Eupatorium borer moth, Three-lined flower moth, Ruby tiger moth, or Red grounding moth. Moreover, the larvae of leaf miner fly usually create blotch-shaped mines on their foliage.
- They are usually pest and disease-free. However, powdery mildew can occur in regions with warm and dry climates or poor air circulation.
Joe-Pye Weed Features: An Overview
- Joe-Pye weeds belong to the Eutrochium genus that contains exactly five species of colorful flowering plants. These species are E. dubium, E. fistulosum, E. maculatum, E. purpureum, and E. steelei.
- They are herbaceous perennials that can reach from 4.9 to 7.9 feet (1.5-2.4 m) in height and up to 4 feet (1.2 m) in width. They are also clump-forming plants and have a fast growth rate.
- Their foliage consists of lance-shaped, deep green, and coarsely-serrated leaves that grow in whorls of 3-4 pieces on erect, thick, and purple-red stems. Their leaves measure about 12 inches (30 cm) in length.
- In general, Joe-Pye weeds bloom from mid-summer through early autumn. During this period, they produce large clusters that grow between 12 and 18 inches (30-45 cm) in diameter.
- Their flowers exhibit a wide range of pink and purplish tints, starting from a whitish-pink colour when in the bud. Once the blossoms open, they come in shades of light pink, dark pink, pink-purple, or mauve.
- After their flowering period, these plants put on display showy seed heads that can last without any problem during the winter months. They are a common food source for birds.
- Their seeds work as a great propagation material if gardeners collect them in spring or autumn, then sow them fresh in containers.
Growing Joe-Pye Weed
Overall, Joe-Pye weeds are probably one of the most easy-going and rewarding flowering plants you can have in your garden. These plants do not need too much effort on your part to grow healthy and happy. Still, this does not mean that you can neglect them entirely and do just fine without your help!
Keep reading to find out more about their particular growing demands and how you can be the best owner out there. With time, we guarantee you will master the art of growing and caring for these beauties!
First things first, the most important factor in the well-being of these plants – their lighting conditions. In general, Joe-Pye weeds grow at their best in locations with full sunlight to partial shade. Be careful, though, as too much shade can limit their growth, make your plants pretty floppy, and more prone to fungal diseases. On the other hand, too much sunlight can result in yellowish leaves. They will require some protection from the harsh afternoon sun, especially during the summer.
Joe-Pye weeds are usually hardy in both freezing and hot, dry conditions. During the cold winter months, these plants can tolerate temperatures that drop to -13 °F (-25 °C). Prolonged frost will cause your babies to dye back to the ground until next spring, but this is not an issue at all. When it comes to humidity, they can thrive anyways as long as their soil remains damp.
Planting Joe-Pye Weed
The best time to plant your new Joe-Pye weed is in spring, but only after the last frost has passed. These plants are adaptable and can grow in a wide range of soils, including clay, loamy, or sandy. Yet, they perform best in well-draining substrates that are fairly rich in nutrients and organic matter.
If you manage to simulate their native fertile environment, Joe-Pye weeds will not need extra fertilizing. In poor growing mediums, however, your plants will benefit from a slow-release granular fertilizer designed for flowering plants applied in spring. When their blossoms begin to appear, typically in mid-summer, you must provide them with fertilizer again. You can also amend their soil with a bit of compost in spring to improve its quality.
Due to their fast-growing pace, Joe-Pye weeds will require regular pruning if you want to maintain them at a certain size or shape. This process consists of cutting half of their stems back in early spring (June) to promote new growth and a bushy overall look. Also, your plants will bloom profusely on the new stems.
When the weather starts to get cooler, usually in late autumn, Joe-Pye weeds go dormant and die back until next spring. During this period, you should prune the damaged or dead foliage of your plants at about 4 to 8 inches (10-20 cm) off the ground.
Watering Joe-Pye Weed
What makes Joe-Pye weeds a must-have, especially for beginner gardeners, is the low complexity in their watering routine. The only time when these plants demand a little attention is during their first growing season after planting. Once your flowers have settled in their new environment, they even become tolerant of drought for short periods.
Joe-Pye weeds do well when their soil is constantly damp, but you should avoid soggy conditions or waterlogging. In general, these flowers need water only once every few days, but the frequency of watering may vary depending on the environmental conditions.
To adopt a suitable watering technique, make sure you always check the soil in-between waterings. When the substrate feels dry at the top one inch (2.5 cm) of soil, this is the perfect time to spoil your Joe-Pye weeds with another round of water.
Propagating Joe-Pye Weed
Although there are multiple ways to propagate Joe-Pye weeds, the easiest and most common method is division. And once you see how efficient propagation can be, it will be very hard to resist the temptation of repeating it year after year. If the space in your home or garden is a problem, no worries! They can also make lovely gifts for your family members or friends that secretly love a few flowering plants around!
The division method consists of cutting directly into the soil with a sharp shovel in-between your Joe-Pye weeds’ stems. There is no point to dig out the entire mother plants because they are already pretty big and hard to handle. The best time to divide your plants is in early spring when they are most vigorous and receptive to change.
After this process, dig up the stems with their attached roots carefully and remove the extra soil. You can replant the divided Joe-Pye weeds anywhere you want to, whether it is in the garden or their own pots. Make sure you plant them at the same depth as they were before and provide them with water whenever the soil feels dry to the touch.
Heaven is where your beloved plants are, and Joe-Pye weeds will quickly gain a special place in your heart! Not only do Joe-Pye weeds look and smell amazing, but they are also very easy to grow, care for, and propagate. If you are not the happy owner of these flowers already, undoubtedly you must be in the future!
Are you growing Eutrochium purpureum a.k.a. ‘Joe-Pye Weed’ in your garden? Share your experience in the comments below!