Plant Taxonomy of Joe-Pye Weed:
Planting Zones for Joe-Pye Weed:
Sun and Soil Requirements:
Uses in Landscaping:
Types of Joe-Pye Weed Plants:
Besides spotted Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium maculatum), other types native to North America are:
- Hollow Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium fistulosum)
- Eastern or "three-nerved" Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium dubium)
- Sweet Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium purpureum)
Cultivars of Eupatorium are also available (see below).
Cut the prior year's stalks down to the ground in early spring. New shoots will push up from the system of rhizomes underground. The plant can be aggressive; if you wish to keep it in check, you'll have to contain the spread of the rhizomes either by cutting them or by blocking their progress with bamboo barriers or the like. Cultivars such as Eupatorium maculatum 'Gateway' are better-behaved. Pinch back in late spring to keep the plant more compact.
If you're happy with this aggressive plant and wish to increase your supply of it and grow it in an additional spot in the landscape, undertake springtime division.
Cultivars, Meaning Behind the Names:
Spotted Joe-Pye weed is a wildflower, but cultivars of Eupatorium are also available. Besides the mauve color shown in my pictures, some folks plant white-flowering varieties -- which shouldn't surprise those familiar with the related wildflowers, snakeroot (Eupatorium rugosum) and boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum). Eupatorium rugosum 'Chocolate' has white blooms; its cultivar name derives from the dark splotches in its foliage.
In The Book of Perennials (p. 150), Alfred C. Hottes states that the genus Eupatorium was named "for Mithridates Eupator, King of Pontus, who discovered a species to be an antidote against poison" (others say that the species in question was, itself, poisonous, and that Mithridates consumed it in small doses to build up a tolerance to it). On the same page Hottes notes that the common name for Eupatorium maculatum, etc. "is derived from Joe Pye, an Indian herb doctor of Pilgrim days in Massachusetts. He is reputed to have cured typhus fever from a decoction of the plant."
Meanwhile, the species name, maculatum is Latin for "spotted" and refers to the fact that spotted Joe-Pye weed often bears purplish flecks on its stems.