Backyard Nature Wednesday: Joe Pye Weed

It's high summer and the Joe Pye weed is doing its thing in my backyard garden.

Eutrochium purpureum, commonly called Joe Pye weed, is a herbaceous perennial member of the aster family. It is native to the eastern and northern United States and grows in the wild or in gardens from zones 4 to 9.  It requires a moderate amount of water to do well but will tolerate some dry periods, however its leaves will scorch if the soil dries out completely. Other than that, its maintenance requirements are practically nil.

Joe Pye weed can grow from 5 to 7 feet tall and spread from 2 to 4 feet. In my garden, it has reached its potential width but is not that tall - possibly four feet. It will grow in full sun to part shade. Mine is presently in part shade, but I have plans to transplant part of it to a sunnier area this fall.

Joe Pye sports its mauve pink blooms from July through September so it is at its showiest just now.

The main reason for growing Joe Pye weed is that it is very attractive to many butterflies. The flowers are somewhat fragrant. I notice the fragrance most in the late afternoon. Once the flowers are finished, they give way to attractive seed heads which can persist right into the winter.

Many people see Joe Pye as just another roadside weed but it can work well as a border plant in beds, in cottage or meadow gardens, and certainly in native plant and habitat gardens such as mine. If you are looking to attract butterflies to your garden, you will do well to give Joe Pye a place in it.


  1. I wouldn't mind having that shrub in the yard since, like you said, it attracts butterflies.

  2. Anything that attracts butterflies is good in my book :-)


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