Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium fistulosum Barratt) is an herbaceous perennial native from Maine to Michigan, south to central Florida and Texas (USDA Hardiness Zones 3-9; AHS Heat Zones 2-10) (this information is relevant for the United States, if you have information for other countries, please provide in the comments box). Joe-Pye-Weed is a 5 to 6 foot tall perennial that grows wild. It will do equally well in a perennial border.
This plant has tall, upright purple stems and purplish foliage. The stems are adorned with fluffy pink-mauve flower heads that appear in early autumn. Dark green leaves up to 12 inches long emerge on sturdy stems below clusters of pink-purple flowers that butterflies can’t resist. Joe-Pye is perky and full of blooms when many other plants are finished and it lasts until hard frost. Place it in the back of the border or give it a corner all its own in a sunny, fertile position.
During the summer, Joe-Pye weed bears showy panicles of dusty rose to lavender flowers. Individual flowers are small (1/2 inch) but the panicles can be up to 18 inches in diameter. These plants make an unforgettable impression with their showy, flat-topped clusters of rose-purple flowers. The showy panicles attract butterflies, skippers, hummingbirds, bees and wasps.
It requires rich soil and needs to be given compost or well-rotted manure mulch in the spring. Plants need full sun to partial shade and average soil. Originally found in moist meadows, joe-pye weed wants evenly and moderately moist soil in home gardens. In favorable conditions it will naturalize and form expanding clumps of plants. Joe Pye weed needs plenty of water and will survive even in long periods of water-logging. It will survive in dry sites, and is even considered to be drought tolerant, but it never will be as robust and showy as when grown with abundant moisture.
Over all it has few needs and will grow well.
A negative feature of the Joe Pye weed is that its stalks tend to lose their leaves as the season matures and might collapse without sufficient moisture, which argues for keeping them in the back or middle of their setting where others can buck them up. The stalk can blow over without support, and makes the plant difficult to transport.
In August the flowers start to open, the clumps become a mass of color, and the sweet fragrance of the flowers becomes a great attraction for bees and butterflies.
Seed: Joe-Pye can be started from seed indoors 8-10 weeks prior to the last spring frost. Sow on seed starting mix, lightly covering so light can reach the seeds. Moisten the mix and place the pot or container in a plastic bag. Place the covered container in the refrigerator for 8-10 weeks, then remove it and set in a room where it’s 68-70ºF. The seed should germinate in 3-7 days. You can also direct seed in any season into the soil if you are growing it as a wildflower.
Cuttings: Stem cuttings in Spring, or divide established clumps in Spring or Fall (mulch new Fall divisions).
Weeds in the pots will have to be controlled manually.