How to Plant and Grow Joe Pye Weed

This native perennial attracts lots of pollinators to its large flowers.

Joe Pye weed is a statement piece in any garden. Hardy in Zones 3-10, it can reach up to 8 feet tall and wide. As long as you have the space, this native wildflower adds texture to a garden with deep green foliage and airy purple blooms and can act as a backdrop for smaller plants.

Hundreds of tiny thread-like petals on the giant stalks of this perennial create clouds of blooms in late summer and persist into fall. These blooms are attractive to butterflies and other pollinators, so you'll have lots of activity around your garden with Joe Pye weed. Once the flowers begin to fade, the seeds will ripen and puff up further to add more late-season interest.

Joe Pye Weed Overview

Genus Name Eutrochium
Common Name Joe Pye Weed
Plant Type Perennial
Light Part Sun, Sun
Height 3 to 8 feet
Width 2 to 8 feet
Flower Color Pink, Purple, White
Foliage Color Blue/Green
Season Features Fall Bloom, Summer Bloom
Special Features Attracts Birds, Fragrance, Low Maintenance
Zones 10, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Propagation Division, Seed
Problem Solvers Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Good For Privacy, Groundcover

Where to Plant Joe Pye Weed

Unlike other wildflowers that are tricky to cultivate outside of their native conditions, Joe Pye weed is at home in any garden setting, adding height to the back of border plantings. Many species are native to areas alongside streams, ponds, and marshes. Plant it in full sun and well-draining soil where it will have lots of room to grow up and out.

How and When to Plant Joe Pye Weed

Potted nursery plants are the best option for planting Joe Pye weed in your garden. Add it in the spring after the last frost. Dig a hole about the same width and depth as the planting container. Remove the plant and loosen the roots a bit from the root ball before placing in the hole. Backfill with soil, tamp lightly, and water well.

Joe Pye Weed Care Tips

Joe Pye weed grows fast and is easy to care for, making it a rewarding plant to add to your landscape.


As a general rule of thumb, Joe Pye weed prefers full sun. While a few species grow fine in part sun, most species will begin to flop without enough sun. When it gets very hot, Joe Pye weed will appreciate a little shade to keep its leaves from yellowing.

Soil and Water

Rich, well-drained soils are ideal for Joe Pye weed, but they're adaptable to other soils. With that in mind, most species of Joe Pye weed prefer consistent moisture throughout the growing season.

Keep the soil moist at all times for the healthiest plants. Mulch is helpful to keep the ground damp and cool, especially when it gets hot.

Temperature and Humidity

Whether it's hot or cold, Joe Pye weed will do fine. If it gets to freezing temperatures, the plant will die back for winter. The stalks of Joe Pye weed are good for winter insects, so leave them where they are if you don't mind how they look.


Other than compost when planting, soil for Joe Pye weed needs very little fertilizer. So unless your soil is very poor, Joe Pye weed will do well in most locations.


Given a name like Joe Pye weed, you might assume these plants can become weedy. While this isn't the case for most varieties, some may spread aggressively by seed (though the plant is not invasive). Deadhead spent flowers to prevent the spread from happening.

Joe Pye weed can grow very tall, so staking it may be necessary to keep it standing tall, especially when it's in full bloom or in high winds.

Pests and Problems

Joe Pye weed can be more susceptible to foliar diseases if planted in too much shade. Most commonly, powdery mildew can become a problem. Powdery mildew most likely won't kill the plants; however, it can affect overall plant health and performance. Ask your garden expert about cultivars that are fungi-resistant and ensure that there is adequate air circulation around the plants.

Scorched leaves mean your plants aren't getting enough water.

How to Propagate Joe Pye Weed

Joe Pye weed is easy to dig up and divide. In early spring, right after the plant emerges from the ground, dig it up and cut or break the clump into smaller sections with leaves and roots attached. Plant these into the garden at the same depth as the original plant. Water newly divided and transplanted plants well until they are established.

Due to the long process of cold seed stratification, it's recommended that new Joe Pye weed be planted from nursery plants or divided plants, rather than from seed.

Types of Joe Pye Weed

Joe Pye Weed

Joe Pye weed

Also known as Queen of the Meadow, Eupatorium maculatum is a striking plant for the back of the border, with 10- to 12-inch rosy flower clusters atop 5- to 6-foot-tall burgundy stems. Zones 3-7

'Gateway' Joe Pye Weed

'Gateway' Joe Pye weed
Denny Schrock

Eupatorium maculatum 'Gateway' is a selection that is slightly shorter than the species, growing 4 to 5 feet tall. Zones 3-7

'Little Joe' Joe Pye Weed

'Little Joe' Joe Pye weed
Jay Wilde

Eupatorium dubium 'Little Joe' is a compact plant that grows 4 feet tall, making it suitable for smaller gardens. Its mauve-purple flowers begin to bloom in midsummer. Zones 3-7

Joe Pye Weed Companion Plants


'Morning Light' miscanthus
John Reed Forsman

Miscanthus is a statuesque ornamental grass. It makes dense clumps of arching grassy foliage in various widths and fineness, according to variety. Erect, dramatic plumes of flower spikelets rise among the leaves or well above them and last through the winter. Zones 4-9

Russian Sage

russian sage silver-leaf plant
Peter Krumhardt

With its tall, wispy wands of lavender or blue flowers and silvery foliage, Russian sage is essential in summer and fall gardens. It shows off well against most flowers and provides an elegant look to flower borders. The aromatic leaves are oblong and deeply cut along the edges. Foot-long panicles of flowers bloom for many weeks. Zones 4-9

Feather Reed Grass

feather reed grass
Bryan E. McCay

'Karl Foerster' is the best-known type of feather reedgrass and has all the key elements of this ornamental grass. While other ornamental grasses tend to arch outward, feather reedgrass grows straight and upright, adding an architectural element to the landscape, even in winter. Feather reedgrass produces tiny flowers in early summer. Seed heads mature to golden tan by midsummer and remain attractive into fall. Zones 4-9

Garden Plans For Joe Pye Weed

Downspout Garden Plan

downspout rain garden plan
Illustration by Mavis Augustine Torke

This garden is up to the high-moisture challenge of the area around a downspout.

No-Fuss Bird and Butterfly Garden Plan

No-Fuss Bird and Butterfly Garden Plan Illustration
Illustration by Gary Palmer

Plant this collection of beautiful, easy-growing flowers and your yard is sure to be filled with birds and butterflies.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do critters eat Joe Pye weed?

    Joe Pye Weed tastes bitter, so deer avoid it. But young tender leaves and stalks may be appealing to deer and rabbits.

  • How did Joe Pye weed get its name?

    Joe Pye weed is named for Joseph Shauquethqueat, a Mohican chief who lived in Massachusetts and New York in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

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