How to Grow Joe-Pye Weed — Eupatorium

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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 seeds require 30 days of cold stratification; afterward, 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.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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