Joe Pye Weed performs well in full sun and part shade. It likes moist soil and makes an ideal candidate for rain gardens or wetter areas of a property. It is native from Florida to Maine and up into Canada and as far west as Oklahoma.
Two Names, One Plant
There’s a little confusion between which species is the best species to use. If you google the plant, you’ll discover that some sources refer to it as “Eutrochium” while other sources call it “Eupatorium”. Don’t let this stop you from the adventure of using it in your yard. There are many species of Joe Pye and even a couple genus, but to help out I will give you my suggestions for specific species to make your quest of purple/pink bliss easier.
I almost exclusively one of the following species: Eupatorium dubium 'Little Joe' (grows 3 to 4ft tall), Eupatorium purpureum ssp. maculatum 'Gateway' (grows 5 to 6ft tall), Eupatorium fistulosum (grows 5 to 8ft tall), or Eupatorium x 'Phantom' (grows 3ft tall). I prefer the tallest of these options because I love how they express such a pink, purply color and have for an exciting rain garden detail. But not every yard or situation needs 7 to 8 feet of native perennial.
Use Joe Pye Weed as much or as little as you want. When I use the plant in designs I always include it as transitions within a yard. For example, I use it at the entrance of a gate or at the corner of a house or at the edge of a backyard. At the entrance of a gate, the height and color pulls you into the space with enthusiasm. At the corner of a house, it hints to things to come around the corner. It invites you to explore what’s next to see. In these instances, I may use one, two or three plants to spice up the space. At the edge of a backyard, I plant as many as I can possibly fit. A full bed of Joe Pye accompanied by a few Jacob Cline flowers or some coneflowers (use Kim’s Knee High or PowWow Wildberry) or even a rich colored groundcover like phlox can turn a boring fence or boundary into a wonderland of nature where birds and butterflies buzz around with excitement.
With the cool wet days of April we’ve had will let you plant Joe Pye Weed and let its roots start to establish itself for the potential hot and dry summer ahead. If you are planning a rain garden, make sure to add it to your list of plants to get.