Joe – Pye Weed
08/01/2013 - 09/30/2013
Memphis Botanic Garden map
Joe – Pye Weed, Eupatorium maculatum ‘Gateway’
Attributes: In late summer, Joe-Pye weed can be seen growing along road sides and ditches through-out the mid-west and the upper south. It is a robust plant which many times will attain a height of 10 to 12 feet. The selection ‘Gateway’ which has the added attraction of purple stems usually grows to only 6 feet - still a back of the border plant, but much easier to fit into an urban landscape. The enormous purple panicles often 10-12 inches across when in full bloom, will really steal the show in late summer, when very few other perennials are still at their best. In the 19th century, Joe-Pye Weed was widely used to treat kidney stones and fever. Joe Pye was a colonial herb doctor who was a proponent of using plants species that were utilized by Native Americans for medicinal purposes. Another benefit of planting this species is that it is used by several swallowtails such as black, tiger, zebra, giant and spicebush as well as Gulf and Greater fritillary butterflies, makes this a great reason to add this species to your landscape.
Growing Tips: Being a Native American plant, it is well adapted to growing in our climate. Hardy in zones 4 to 7 (Memphis is in zone 7); the main requirements are full sun and moist, reasonably fertile soil. In nature, it occurs in areas that flood occasionally, so it would be excellent near a stream bank or pond, but does equally well under garden conditions with regular watering. Planting in early spring or late fall is recommended, but container grown specimens could be planted during the growing season as long as attention to watering was observed.
Landscape Value: Blooming in the heat of late summer, this is a plant to “wow” you with its size and color. Be sure to allow plenty of room for it to spread out as it grows. I would say at least a five to six foot space for a single plant. Logical companions would be large ornamental grasses and composites such as Rudbeckias and Echinaceas. All of these plants would look best in a large perennial border or even a meadow garden.