Posted by Aaron Barton on Mar 4th 2023

Eutrochium (Joe Pye Weed)

Joe Pye weed is a prolific late season bloomer, offering large blooms and unmatched height and structure in the landscape. Salt tolerant, resistant to deer and rabbit feeding, and a member of the Aster family, Asteraceae, Joe Pye weed, formerly known as Eupatorium, a genus of around 800 species recently revised considering new findings, is now in the closely related genus Eutrochium.

Native to North America including Minnesota, most Joe Pye weed cultivars are derived from spotted Joe Pye weed, Eutrochium maculatum (yoo-TRO-kee-um mak-yuh-LAY-tum). Sweet Joe Pye weed, Eutrochium purpureum (yoo-TRO-kee-um pur-PUR-ee-um), is also commonly offered as another great Minnesota native option suited for slightly different site conditions.

Spotted Joe Pye weed is excellent for creating tall sunny backdrops or serving as a specimen in larger landscapes, thriving in full sun yet tolerant of part shade, preferring consistently moist, well-drained soils. Also tolerant of heavy clay soils, spotted Joe Pye weed is right at home along streambanks, pond edges, pollinator gardens, rain gardens, and woodland edges. Reaching up to 72” tall, spotted Joe Pye weed has rigid upright stems with whorls of typically four or five large, oval green leaves on their occasionally purple, typically deep green, purple-spotted stems. Plants may also be cut back by half once in late spring or early summer to produce a shorter flowering plant.

Blooming from mid-summer into fall, each plant produces numerous large, rosy pink, flat-topped compound corymbs of 8-20 blooms, each with long, protruding thread-like styles giving the blooms a fluffy or fringed appearance. Blooms are beloved by pollinators, especially bumblebees and butterflies, and can be left standing in winter as a great source of interest also great for wildlife and songbirds. Cultivars include ‘Gateway,’ a more compact, bushy selection reaching 48-60” tall with dense, tighter blooming inflorescences, and ‘Phantom,’ a mid-sized variety reaching 36-48” tall with pink blooms perfect for smaller garden spaces.

Sweet Joe Pye weed has deep green stems with a purple tinge near the base of their leaves and slightly deeper pink, dome-shaped, vanilla-scented blooms. More tolerant of dry conditions than spotted Joe Pye weed, sweet Joe Pye weed thrives in well-drained soils in part sun or even lightly shaded sites, reaching a mature height of around 72” tall and 48” wide.

Happy planting!