How to Grow Eupatorium — Joe-Pye Weed

Joe-pye weed Eupatorium

Eupatorium–often called Joe Pye weed–is a good choice for boggy soils or informal gardens. This upright perennial has coarse green foliage on tall purple-flushed stems and large domed, purple-pink fluffy flower heads from late summer to early fall.

Eupatorium is a large plant; it can grow to 6 feet tall (2m) or more. The blossoms are tiny but are borne in large, loose clusters that suggest puffs of smoke. Lance-shaped leaves appear in whorls

Eupatorium grows best in good, moist soil. It is among the few perennials that can thrive in boggy soil alongside water.

Eupatorium is a genus of about 40 species of annual and perennials native to temperate and tropical regions in Europe, Africa, Asia, and North and South America.

Joe-Pye Weed, Eupatorium purpureum
Joe-Pye Weed, Eupatorium purpureum

Get to Know Eupatorium

  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Growing Zones and range: Zones 3 to 10
  • Hardiness: Hardy to -30°F (-34°C)
  • Height and width: 4 to 7 feet (1.2-2.1m) tall and 3 feet (1m) wide or wider
  • Foliage: Usually toothed and dissected but sometimes entire leaves.
  • Flowers: Tubular flowers are borne in clusters on tall, stately plants.
  • Flower colors: White, pink, purple, mauve
  • Bloom time: Late summer or early fall; seed head remains in winter
  • Uses: Attracts butterflies; mass plants; combine with ornamental grasses and Autumn Joy sedum
  • Common name: Joe-Pye Weed
  • Botanical name: Eupatorium purpureum
  • Family: Asteraceae
  • Origin: Temperate and tropical regions in Europe, Africa, Asia, and North and South America

Where to Plant Eupatorium

  • Plant Eupatorium in full sun or partial shade; too much shade will cause stems to flop over.
  • Grow Eupatorium weed in humus-rich, moist soil. Eupatorium will tolerate wet soil.

Eupatorium Uses and Companions

  • Use Eupatorium in large-scale borders, bog, and butterfly gardens and in meadows and naturalistic landscapes.
  • Good garden companions for Eupatorium include Hibiscus moscheutos, Iris, Ligularia, Lythrum.
A thick stand of Joe Pye weed, a wildflower native to Canada and the United States.
A thick stand of Joe Pye weed, a wildflower native to Canada and the United States.

When to Plant Eupatorium

  • Set established Eupatorium in the garden in spring.

Planting and Spacing Eupatorium

  • Space Eupatorium 3 feet (1m) apart.
  • Sow seed 1/8 inch deep.

How to Water and Feed Eupatorium

  • Eupatorium needs ample moisture,
  • Give Eupatorium occasional all-purpose fertilizer.

Eupatorium Care

  • Pinch plants back in midsummer to control height.
  • Mulch around plants to conserve soil moisture.
  • Clumps of Eupatorium can be difficult to manage.
  • Plants seldom need division.

Eupatorium Pests and Diseases

  • Eupatorium is susceptible to mildew, white smut, Cercospora, and Septoria leaf spot.
  • Snails and slugs can attack plants.

Eupatorium Propagation

  • Sow seed in spring.
  • Eupatorium seed require 30 days of cold stratification; afterwards, seeds will germinate in 14 to 21 days at 70° to 80°F (21°-27°C).
  • Divide hardy species, and root softwood cutting of tender species in spring.

Eupatorium Varieties to Grow

  • Eupatorium coelestinumm, hardy ageratum: grows to 3-feet tall with broad clusters of fluffy blue flowers; feely spreading.
  • E. maculatum, joe pye weed: Grows 4 to 7 feet tall with green stems spotted in purple; bears flat-topped 6-inch clusters of pale to dark purple flower; cultivars include ‘Atropurpureum has deep-purple stems and reddish-purple or white flowers.
  • E. purpurem, joe pye weed: grows to 6 feet tall with 6-inch clusters of pale rose-pink or purplish flowers in midsummer; leaves have a vanilla scent; ‘Gateway’ has bronze stems that bear large, light-colored blooms.

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