I’d like some information on growing Joe-Pye Weed in the home garden for butterflies. I hear there are some very nice new plants available.
The Gardener’s Answer
Hi, Rosie: There are many species of Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium) and even more cultivars. All belonging to the aster family, these herbaceous perennials are happiest growing in full sun to part shade and require moist soils. They should not be allowed to dry out between waterings. A favorite among butterflies, these clump-forming perennials can reach anywhere from 2-10 feet tall and 2-3 feet wide, depending on variety. They are not susceptible to any serious insect or disease problems but leaf scorch can occur during hot and dry periods. Depending on the species, Eupatoriums are native from the eastern and northern United States all the way to Asia. Again depending on variety they produce either dark/light pink or white blooms from July through September and the seed heads provide winter interest. This perennial can be used in fresh cut or dried floral arrangements. Not to get too technical with the species for this purpose, we can concentrate on the cultivars that are commercially grown and available for home gardeners. ‘Little Joe’ is a dwarf variety reaching 3-4 feet tall with lavender blooms. ‘Pink Frost’ is a variegated variety with pink blooms, and ‘Atropurpureum’ has purple stems, foliage, and flowers. ‘Album’ and new this year ‘Ivory Towers’ are both white bloomers. Check with your local garden center to see what they carry, or Plant Delights Nursery online is a reliable source for mail order; they typically have some unusual ones.