By Susan Patterson, Master Gardener
While many people enjoy this attractive looking plant, some gardeners would prefer to remove Joe-pye weed. If you are one of them, this article has tips for getting rid of joe-pye weed in your garden.
To determine if a plant is sufficiently cold hardy, the USDA created numbered zones indicating winter low temperatures the lower the zone number the colder the winter.
Tips For Growing Eupatorium (Joe Pye Weed)
Eupatorium (Joe Pye Weed) is a genus of native plants that are generally late-season bloomers, with highly attractive, nectar-bearing flowers that are an important late season food source for butterflies and bees.
Preferred growing conditions:
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|Zone 5||Shipping begins the week of May 3rd, 2021|
|Zone 6||Shipping begins the week of April 19th, 2021|
|Zone 7||Shipping begins the week of April 5th, 2021|
|Zone 8||Shipping begins the week of April 5th, 2021|
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Average Water Needs Water regularly do not overwater
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 °C (-20 °F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 °C (-15 °F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 °C (-10 °F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 °C (-5 °F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 °C (0 °F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)
Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
From seed direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed stratify if sowing indoors
Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed
Allow seedheads to dry on plants remove and collect seeds
Seed does not store well sow as soon as possible
This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:
Owens Cross Roads, Alabama
Washington, District of Columbia
Minneapolis, Minnesota(2 reports)
Saint Johnsville, New York
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
High Point, North Carolina
West Chester, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Greenville, South Carolina
Spartanburg, South Carolina
On Jul 11, 2020, RhodyDude from Takoma Park, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:
Although advertised as the Joe Pye weed to grow in shade, Eutrochium purpureum really does better in more sunny conditions. In part-shade conditions, the color of the flower is more washed out, the flower is smaller, and the plant is prone to flopping. Not recommended for full shade. It's still attractive for a lightly shaded garden, but grows best with the support of tall neighboring plants to hold it in place.
On Oct 21, 2016, landscapergal from Silverton, OR wrote:
I grew this for years in the hi desert (no. calif on Nev. border) Zone 5-6. It didn't require much water thrived in heavy clay alkaline soil and reliably came back every year. About 4-5 ft tall. Maybe in better conditions it would have been taller. It also didn't spread but these were hostile conditions. I loved this plant. Was nervous about planting it initially but it surprised me! I'm planting it now in Oregon so we shall see.
On Jun 1, 2015, JoeM50 from Mount Savage, MD (Zone 6b) wrote:
Sweet Joe Pye Weed is unlikely to survive in a true bog garden nor would any of the several species which grow in the Mid-Atlantic States. I have only seen Sweet Joe Pye Weed growing in light shade in an open forest or at the forest edge in moist to dry soil. The other species in this area prefer wet soil where they can be found near streams or sometimes in marshes. In addition the flowers are in cymes or panicles not umbels. Onions and Queen Anne's Lace have there flowers in umbels. In an umbel, all the pedicels or stems of the flower originate at a single point. A compound umbel has a group of umbels which originate at a single point.
On May 10, 2015, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:
A handsome, statuesque perennial. This is a big plant, usually getting about 6' tall or more.
Hardy in Z3-4 and south to Z8 in eastern N. America.
All the big species of this genus have lovely, large dusty rose flower heads which are very attractive to butterflies and other pollinators.
Unfortunately, the seed-heads tend to look messy rather than ornamental, and begin to detract from the flowering display within a week of the start of flowering. This is especially obvious with the white-flowered cultivars. Plants whose flower heads are cut back in early August may rebloom in September.
In the Chicago Botanic Garden's 2014 performance evaluation of Eupatoriums/Eutrochiums, this species received 4 stars out of 5. [>[email protected]. read more hicagobotanic.org]
Though it can tolerate some dryness once established, the big species of this genus are all moist-soil plants, and drought can dwarf them and render their leaves crispy without regular irrigation in my climate. Drought stress renders plants more susceptible to powdery mildew, to which the big species of this genus are prone.
The species names in this genus are generally confused in commerce.
The USDA Plants database lists this species as a facultative wetland plant throughout its range. Its native range runs from ME to Ontario and MN, and NE to LA and FL. It is not listed as invasive or endangered in any state. Here in MA, I see this commonly growing in roadside ditches.
On May 9, 2015, CharlysGardenPl from Ferndale, WA (Zone 8a) wrote:
I love this plant. It is drought tolerant with an infrequent drink, but it remains small and leaves suffer. Average garden watering gives you a tall plant with huge flowers. Root area expands yearly, and can be divided.
On Feb 10, 2014, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:
This native from NH to MN and southward is a very tall, easy, reliable perennial whose big flower clusters are loved by many pollinators, especially Swallowtail butterflies. (It makes a better plant overall than Butterflybush from China for pollinators). I've seen some wild specimens of Sweet Joe-Pye-Weed growing around the woods in southeast Pennsylvania. According to "A Field Guide To Wildflowers" by Peterson & McKenny, this species has domed flower clusters, not flattish has green stems that can have purple nodes (leaf joints) has leaves in whorls of 3 to 4 around the stems, and grows more in upland thickets and woods.
On Mar 28, 2013, bethmuse from Gainesville, FL wrote:
I bought a plant of Joe Pye Weed at a NatIve Plant Sale and when planted it grew to be enormous! I couldn't reach the top of the stems. It attracted loads of Tiger Swallowtails both males and females and they laid eggs and I found 2 Chrysalises. The following year it hardly grew at all! Then the year after that it came back again, but was never as glorious as the first year. I have come to realize because I'm in Zone 8.5 - 9 that it's probably out of its range. It has never come back after that 3rd year. I will try to post a photo.
On Jul 24, 2012, andrizzle from Clay, NY wrote:
Grows wild in our creekbed. We have hardly gotten any rain this summer with days hovering in the 80s to 90s, and even the creek is getting low. These plants have been flowering for about a week now and look beautiful, with 0 care from me. Probably about 5 feet tall. No idea where they came from they almost got weedwhacked!
On Sep 3, 2011, bungalowbees from Salt Lake City, UT wrote:
Joe Pye is not the flashiest plant in the garden but it makes a strong background, fuss-free & hardworking at the end of August. This is our first year beekeeping and Joe Pye is covered with bees most of the day. Butterflies too but bees, all kinds, are all over these plants.
I've had a stand of Joe Pye enough years I don't remember the cultivar but it's about 6' with morning shade, afternoon sun, little water. It doesn't stray for me, nor does it throw offspring. It does bend down at the end of its time in the sun, generally when it's full of seeds & rain, but most of the time it stands tall without difficulty.
On Sep 8, 2010, kmm44 from Dayton, OH wrote:
My son gave me some of this at least 11 yrs ago. We planted it in full sun at the end of my yard in a newly converted perennial bed of other native prairie plants. ( I had gotten sick of the boring annuals after 25 yrs.) It must love its spot because it grows to 10 ft or more every year and puts on a beautiful show of dusty rose blooms.
I never needs staking and has not tried to take over the bed.
On Sep 6, 2010, bakingbarb from Lynnwood, WA wrote:
Good thing I paid attention to where I planted this, it grows taller then the 6 foot fence I planted it in front of! I love this type of plant, it requires no care from me, no staking required for such a tall plant. Beautiful flowers and the plant is slowly spreading but more in a clumping manner, very well behaved.
On Sep 6, 2010, slywlf from Brooksville, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:
I picked up a couple small plants a couple years ago at the local Spring plant fair to benefit the library. At the time I knew only that it was popular with butterflies and bees - that was good enough for me! Well, I planted it with similarly tall plants, an ever-growing patch of Monarda, so it doesn't look silly when it gets tall. Instead the gigantic pinkish purple flower heads look like regal monarchs over the punk-rocker Bee Balms -)
My bees and butterflies are in heaven when they visit this patch of yard, and when they start to creep outward, as both tend to do, I either transplant or gift the extras to friends. Spectacular with a pair of pale purple butterfly bush, bright yellow button Tansy and goldenrod for contrast, and wild grape in the background of the mix!
On Sep 6, 2010, pammiesioux from Saint Johnsville, NY wrote:
I enlarged my lawn area last year after having several damaged trees removed. I mowed the area and noticed several large plants coming up. I continued to mow around these plants to see what they were. I now have four large specimens of Sweet Joe Pye Weed. They are near a stone wall and get sun most of the day. The property was originally a large German homestead during the 1700-1800's. Stone walls mark my five acre property. I've found many plants and often wonder who planted them and how long they've been here.
On Jun 5, 2010, kdhunt from Muncie, IN wrote:
More a question than a comment - can you trim this plant back to prevent it from becoming massive yet will it still bloom?
On Oct 19, 2009, bonehead from Cedarhome, WA (Zone 8b) wrote:
Lovely large plant, be sure to give it plenty of room, and plant it near other large plants so it doesn't stick out like a sore thumb. The red stems are a great contrast, and the foliage turns a nice shade of gold in the fall. I leave most of the seedheads standing over winter except those that want to flop. Great combo with chocolate boneset and mugwort.
On Oct 21, 2008, abbymayme from Minneapolis, MN wrote:
Help! Joe Pye is taking over my garden! While it is a beautiful and easy to grow perennial its "creepability" is getting to be a nuisance. I also find it extremely difficult to dig up. I still want a small stand left, but would appreciate any ideas on how to get this stuff out of my garden! My idea now is to let it freeze over winter (I live in MN) and then tackle it in the spring. Good idea? I'd love to hear from anyone who has licked this problem.
On Jul 12, 2008, anneleac from Owens Cross Roads, AL wrote:
A Joe Pye variety showed up in my garden in Northern AL last year. It grew to about 2 1/2 feet, with no blooms. I had no idea what it was, but the leaves were so attractive - they grow in the shape of swirls, so I called it my favorite weed. This year I transplanted my "weed" with no problems to another moist area of my yard with full sun. It is now about 4 feet tall, 2 feet wide and about ready to send up flower stalks. I've never watered it, and it's gorgeous, with a really nice upright shape.
On Jun 26, 2007, lalalee16 from North Canton, OH (Zone 5b) wrote:
I started Joe Pye Weed from seed last year in my little greenhouse, then planted the seedlings in different locations to see how they would fair. Made the mistake of putting some of the seedlings in the front border of my sunny bed, and they are now well over 5 feet tall I will attempt to move them this fall. In my part shade garden they are only about 2 to 3 feet tall. Much better! Butterflies absolutely love this plant.
On Mar 7, 2007, berrygirl from Braselton, GA (Zone 8a) wrote:
According to Underwood Gardens' catalog this plant is reputed to have been named after a Native American doctor who used it medicinally in Massachusetts. Is said to stimulate circulation and sweating makes a gentle laxative and helps with kidney problems. Some Nat. Amer. tribes still consider it an aphrodisiac. It is for certain a butterfly magnet.
It is in danger of becoming extinct in the wild.
On Feb 4, 2006, raisedbedbob from Walkerton, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:
I've grown Joe Pye Weed in my garden with great success - too much success. I'm still trying to contain it 3 years after deciding it was much too aggressive in the border. It is much better left to admire in the wild.
On Aug 24, 2005, tazjet from Dallas, GA wrote:
Growing wild here in Dallas, GA along a creekbed. Plan to watch over the next few years and see how it multiplies. We have had a very wet summer, so that may have helped it. Will add more next year if I notice any differences. Love the plant. Butterflies by the dozens are attracted to it.
On Aug 16, 2004, kbarrett00 from Vancouver, WA wrote:
This plant requires almost no tending. I water it during heat spells. The flowers are fabulous and last a long time. The clump has tripled in size in 3 years. Mine is pale rose colored.
On Oct 19, 2003, squirleycat from Vicksburg, MS wrote:
My family is from the Southeast, primarily Mississippi. I had a great-aunt who was given the nickname "Pyejoe" by her father or some other close male relative. I've always suspected this plant gave rise to her nickname. As kids we always thought Aunt Pyejoe was "racy", since she smoked and played cards!
On Aug 31, 2001, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:
Easily grown in average, medium wet to wet soils in full sun. Prefers moist, fertile, humusy soils which do not dry out. Cut plants to the ground in late winter.
On Nov 2, 2000, jody from MD &, VA (Zone 7b) wrote:
Eupatorium purpureum is the common Joe Pye Weed, however there are 40 species in this genus. One of the most common garden grown species is Eupatorium fistulosum. It grows 3' to 10' tall and about as wide. It likes moist, rich soil, sun to partshade. It flowers from mid summer to early autumn, the flowers come in colors of white, shades of purple and pink. The hardiness depends on the species. It can be invasive, but kept under control if divided every two years.
If you want to grow the ultimate flower buffet for butterflies and bees, try Joe Pye Weed. When there isn’t much else blooming, Joe Pye will surprise you with fuzzy pink umbels of flowers that flying insects clearly relish. I planted only one plant of the great late summer bloomer, Eupatorium dubium, ‘Little Joe’, which has spread to cover an area about 5 feet by 5 feet. After 5 years of growing this plant, I have found it not to be invasive but it definitely spreads. When it goes beyond its bounds, it is easy to pull it up.
A patch of ‘Little Joe’ My poster available in my Etsy Shop includes other butterfly and bee magnets I have a nice clump of Joe Pye right in front of my greenhouse
In late summer, my ‘Little Joe’ patch has formed a nice clump in front of my greenhouse it has finished blooming but I keep it up for structure. It will get taller as the summer progresses.
‘Little Joe’ tops out at 4 feet tall, as opposed to the more commonly grown ‘Gateway’ which can get up to 7 feet high and can flop. I hate to stake flowers, so picked ‘Little Joe’ to avoid that fate. Now there is another cultivar called ‘Baby Joe’ which only gets 2 to 3 feet high which I need to try next.
Joe Pye is a native wildflower which grows along streams in the wild near my house. It gets enormous! I stayed away from it for years because of the size and difficulty in siting such a large specimen. But I am in love with ‘Little Joe’ which has beautiful burgundy stems.
The burgundy stems of ‘Little Joe’ look fantastic against a brick wall This is a mid-September garden border with the Joe Pye placed towards the back shorter flowers in front keep it upright
Once the flower starts to bloom, I am sure to see at least a half-dozen different types of bees and butterflies landing, and the other day saw 5 Monarchs resting on my one plant!
Swallowtails on Joe Pye this is the full size one that towers over me!
‘Little Joe’ comes in a ‘garden friendly’ package of a plant that is easy to grow in full sun to part shade and has sturdy stems that will support the flower heads and won’t bend or flop. The plant is drought tolerant and fragrant with mauve purple flower heads which can reach 12 inches across!
Dried seed head of Joe Pye
The flower persists for weeks and the seed heads will last through the winter and will provide food for the birds when food is scarce. What is not to like? A tough beautiful, easy to grow plant which provides entertainment. I visit it every day to see what insects and butterflies have made a visit. For more information on planting pollinator plants, go to my posts Creating Monarch Waystation and Plant These For the Bees. Also, my Garden Plan for Pollinators is a good resource.
Available in my Etsy Shop, my plan for a pollinator garden includes Joe Pye Weed Count the bees!
Ailanthus Webworm moth on Joe Pye Eupatorium dubium ‘Little Joe’ Plant (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Joe-Pye Weed blooms the first year if the seed is sown early enough, and will naturalize freely to increase its glorious show year after year. It is superb for mixed beds and even borders, but you may want to plant it in a setting where it can spread. The cut flowers are excellent in the vase, too!
Asking only full sun and normally- to poorly-fertile soil, Eupatorium grows easily and flourishes in most settings. Expect this well-branched, striking plant to reach 2 to 4 feet wide. Trouble-free beauty from an American native! Pkt is 100 seeds.