Wildflower Wednesday: Joe Pye Weed

My garden doesn’t have many fall native wildflowers (yet). One I do like very much, though, is hollow Joe Pye weed (Eutrochium fistulosum).

Hollow joe pye weed

Native to eastern North America, Eutrochium fistulosum forms a massive clump, growing 5-8 feet tall and 4 feet wide in the moist soils it likes. Mine is a bit on the drier side, and so grows correspondingly shorter, topping out at around 6 feet high and 3 feet wide. During rainy spells in summer, I can practically watch it grow. 

Butterflies and bees love the flowers, which are rich in nectar. 

My plant suffered a setback from last year’s weather, I think; it’s half the size it was last year. Or perhaps it’s time to dig and divide. I’m keen to keep it going because it attracts so much wildlife. And the seed heads look beautiful all winter, especially under ice.

Ice on Joe Pye weed, Eutrochium purpureum

Ice on Joe Pye weed, Eutrochium fistulosum

Season: midsummer through fall; winter interest
Height: 5-8 ft.
Flower Color: Rosy purple.
Hardiness: USDA Hardiness Zone 4-8
Foliage: Lime green, lightly serrated. Red stems.
Flower: Loose, rosy purple inflorescences.

Site: Prefers moist sites but will cope with average to dry soils.

Propagation: Division spring or fall.

Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Soil: Moist and well-drained to wet. 
Origin: Eastern North America
Life Cycle: Perennial

Wildflower Wednesday is a celebration of wildflowers from all over the world. It’s hosted by Gail and Clay and Limestone on the fourth Wednesday of each month. 

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Butterfly-friendly plants

Part of the fun of sowing all these seeds is the need to plan what to do with them.

On the last day of winter vacation from school, I took the kids to the local science museum. A visit to the butterfly house–always one of my favorite spots–inspired me to dig through the seed packets and see what butterfly-friendly plants I might grow for next year.DSC_0755

Butterfly gardening is not an entirely new concept to me, but thus far I’ve preferred to plant for hummingbirds. But who can resist butterflies? It’s time to add to the mix. So I started Datura ‘Ballerina Yellow‘ and a pan of mixed hibiscus. DSC_0771

I already have plenty of rue and bronze fennel, which are terrific host plants. Amsonia, coreopsis, and Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum) are also ones I both own and have sown this winter. And Maryland wild senna, which will be a new one for me this year, is a primary host for butterflies from the sulphur family.

blue morpho cropped DSC_0771I’m limited in the area of my garden that receives full sun, but I’ll pepper these plants around where I can. The Joe Pye and Amsonia can go in the blue slope, the coreopsis can go on the south-side walkway, and the Maryland wild senna can go in a few different spots, to see where it will thrive.

Here’s a good primer on butterfly gardening, if you care to learn more.