Thursday, December 22, 2011

Countdown to Christmas - W

Weed?  Weed?  Weed?  Weed?

No!  And it's Not Christmas Pie!  ;-)

Joe Pye Weed, Eupatorium purpureum, was named after a Northern American herbalist named Joe Pye who used the plant to cure fevers. This plant is a native prairie wildflower that is definitely NOT a weed! A person should definitely consider planting this in their garden as an additional food source for butterflies such as the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Great Spangled Fritillary, Pearl Crescent, Monarch, and the Tawny-edged Skipper. 
Picture found by Google search (Wise-acre gardens)

This perennial can be divided every two years. To make the plants grow a little shorter and bushier, you might pinch them back in the early summer. Normally, "Joe" blooms from July through October.

photo found by Google search (

You can start the plants indoors by sowing them 8 - 10 weeks prior to the last frost, or you could sow them directly into the soil during any season.

Joe Pye weed generally grows from 5 to 7 feet tall with a 2 to 4 feet spread. The blossom might be called Mauve pink. It thrives in full sun to part shade with a low degree of maintenance.

I planted Joe Pye Weed in my Raised bed gardens, which lend themselves to some sun, partly shady and nearly full shade. Joe receives a lot of shade. He looks pretty good this year and is actually blossoming for the first time in the six years since he was planted! :-)

In the Fall of 2008, I planted 'Little Joe' in the Sunny Corner Bed. He's doing very well!  He has divided into a three-part plant and is also blooming. He's pretty tall, for being "Little." lol.
I planted him because a height of 3 to 4 feet sounded more manageable for the SC Bed. However, I'm sure he must be at least 4 1/2 feet tall! He likes it out there!

 September 8, 2008

"Joe" looks great with all the blues, purples and oranges. Actually, he looks great with about anything!

Some of my information tells me to cut the plant, all the way back, after they finish flowering. Other information tells me that the flower heads give way to attractive seed heads which persist well into Winter.

I think you'll just do what you want. I've never cut Joe-Pye back and he's doing fine.

This is 'Little Joe' in my front Sunny Bed - with a beautiful butterfly that I'll let Randy Emmitt help me identify!  Okay, Randy - a Black Swallowtail? The Dark Phase of a Tiger Swallowtail?  Or the Female??

 I had a hard time running after him all over the the yard this past August!  But what fun!! :-)

Please smell the flowers but don't eat any part of the plant, as it's poisonous. 

 Counting Down!
 We're nearly there - Wishing you a Very Merry Christmas!


Randy Emmitt said...


Merry Christmas! Yes you are correct it is a dark form female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, the tiger stripes give it away!

Rosemary said...

Looking forward to seeing the remainder.

Shady Gardener said...

Oh, hurrah! Thank you for making me feel as though I'm finally learning something! :-)

Hi Rosemary. It's nearly Christmas. I hope you're feeling ready... Enjoy and we'll be good blogging friends again in 2012!

Queade Di Ilio said...

I have 2 Joey Pye Weed plants in my backyard and the bees LOVE them, they are almost intoxicated by them...they completely ignore anyone that walks by. Each year everything above ground is cleared away with new growth from the ground up; each year it gets taller and thicker too! Love this plant!!! I live in Ottawa, Ontario where are winters are cold and harsh...Joe always comes back each summer!