Daniel Keeley is an Arkansas native and award-winning exterior and garden designer. For more information, visit dkdesignoutdoor.com.

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Joe-Pye Weed
by Daniel Keeley       #Hot Plants


Joe-Pye weed is one of my favorite perennials, even if the name is somewhat unfortunate and confusing! First of all, Joe-Pye weed is not a weed at all but rather a North American native perennial. What gets confusing is that the name refers to several different species, and to complicate things further, the whole genus has been reclassified multiple times in the last 10 years. So to simplify matters, I’ll just suggest my two favorite varieties: ‘Gateway’ and ‘Little Joe’. Both offer outstanding qualities for the garden in late summer and early fall … a time when many other plants are past their blooming season and looking a little peaked. Both ‘Gateway’ and ‘Little Joe’ stand proud and look great with tall, sturdy stems, mid-green foliage and mauve-pink flower heads. Contrary to what you might think, what distinguishes ‘Little Joe’ is not the overall size of the plant, but rather it is the leaves and the flower heads which are smaller when compared to the relatively broad foliage and blossoms of ‘Gateway’. Whichever variety you choose, both are low-maintenance native wildflowers attractive to birds, bees and butterflies that look good right up until the first hard frost, and even offer sculptural interest throughout the winter when the seed heads have faded to a rusty brown.

Joe-Pye in full bloom attracts a wide variety of butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.

Common Name: Joe-Pye weed

Botanical Name: Eutrochium (or Eupatorium) maculatum ‘Gateway’; Eupatorium (or Eutrochium) dubium ‘Little Joe’

Varieties/Cultivars to Look For: ‘Gateway’ and ‘Little Joe’

Color: Mauve-pink flowers fade to rusty brown Blooming Period: Late summer/early fall

Zones: 4-9

Type: Perennial

Size: 36-48 inches tall and wide

Exposure: Sun to partial shade

Watering: Prefers regular watering

When to Prune: Cut old stems to the ground in late winter/early spring when new growth emerges.

In Your Landscape: I like to contrast the tall, billowy texture of Joe-Pye weed with lower, more manicured plantings such as a boxwood hedge or a mass of grasses or small perennials.


(From Arkansas Gardener Volume XI Issue VIII. Photos courtesy of Daniel Keeley.)


Posted: 10/28/11   RSS | Print


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