Joe-Pye weed attracts American Lady, Giant Swallowtail, Great Spangle Fritillary, Painted Lady Spicebush Swallowtail, Viceroy butterflies and more. Joe Pye Weed a beautiful perennial plant with many uses. Discover how to grow, care for and use it for medicinal and other purposes. [LEARN MORE] Do you love wildflowers? Discover a selection of 15 of the best native varieties for landscapes, yards, and gardens in the US and Canada now on Gardener's Path.
Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium purpureum)
Having weed in its name does not do the Joe-Pye plant justice. Perhaps the best terms to define this plant would be wildflower, ornamental, herb, and butterfly plant. Joe- Pye Weed grows best in full to part sun location with fertile and moist soil. It needs adequate space and when several plants are grown together, it adds spectacular color to the surrounding landscape.
The many varieties of Joe-Pye have substantial height differences. The tallest reaches a height of ten feet and the dwarf variety (Gateway) grows to about four feet. To keep the plant contained neatly in a garden, it is recommended to stake the Joe-Pye Weed early and pinch them back to keep them a little shorter and bushier.
The Joe-Pye Weed flowers, which bloom from mid-summer until a hard frost, also differ in color, offering large showy shades of purple, pink, or white cluster-like flower heads. The purple hues of flowers are the most attractive varieties for butterflies. This flowering plant and its vanilla-like fragrant foliage make the Joe-Pye Weed lovely for gardens, landscapes, and cut flowers.
Beautiful Joe Pye Weed – How To Grow And How Useful Is It?
Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum) is a ubiquitous perennial plant named after a Native American renowned in his time for using many parts of the plant in creating medicines to cure fevers, typhus, and other illnesses.
This hardy native perennial grows in great abundance across North America, in the eastern US, the New England area and southern Canada. It does well in USDA zones 4 through 9.
It grows enthusiastically in damp settings such as:
- Ditches and along roadsides
- Thickets and woodlands
- Swamps and wetlands
- The banks of streams
- Bogs and swales
- Damp Meadows
It serves as an attractive, cheery, sprawling plant with a number of uses in the landscape. However, plant owners must not allow it to become invasive.
In this article, we will describe the various types of Joe Pye Weed and provide advice for making good use of it in your yard and garden. Read on to learn more.
What Does Joe Pye Weed Look Like?
The plant comes as a member of the aster family. It appears as the tallest perennial herb in North America. Typically, it stands between 4′ feet and 7′ feet tall and measures a spread of approximately 2′ feet.
The USDA lists three species of this plant. They include:
#1 – Eastern Joe Pye Weed
This plant grows 2′-5′ feet high.
Joe Pye weed leaves look quite narrow at the base and widen dramatically toward the center. The stem bears small purple spots, and the flowers show a dusty pink color.
#2 – Spotted Joe Pye Weed
This variety also known as eutrochium maculatum, grows to be 2′- 6′ feet tall and has thick purple or speckled stems. The leaves grow in groups of four or five and are lance shaped with sharp serrated edges. The flowers range from pale lavender to deep purple. You will find this species in moist places that have high lime content in the soil.
#3 – Sweet Scented Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium Purpureum)
This plant is sometimes referred to as “Queen of the Meadow” or “Gravel Root”. It holds green stems with purple leaf nodes. Its vanilla scented leaves grow in groups of three or four and have sharply serrated edges.
On the other hand, its flowers look pale pink or purple. This variety grows naturally in open woods and thickets.
#4 – Hollow Stemmed Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium Fistulosum)
The stems of the eupatorium fistulosum seem purplish and, true to its name, hollow inside. Leaves grow in groups of 4-7 and spread narrowly with softly rounded serrations along the edges.
The flowers resemble berries and look attractive in a bright pinkish-purple shade. This species grows in moist woods and bottomlands in the American Northeast.
#5 – Three-Nerved Joe Pye Weed
The leaves of the joe-pye weed plant hold a pair of large veins rising from the base of the center vein. Stems seem purple speckled. Also, the leaves appear thick, bumpy and oval-shaped and appear in groups of three or four.
Moreover, the joe pyeweed flowers emanate a deep purple color. Anyone can find this smallish variety (3.5′ feet tall) = in moist areas with acidic soil conditions along the Atlantic coast of the US and Canada.
#6 – Steele’s Joe Pye Weed
This variety looks quite a bit like Sweet Joe Pye Weed. However, it possess very broad hairy leaves and stems. This type grows naturally in the woods of the Appalachian Mountains.
All types bear purple, mauve or pink flowers producing copious joe pye weed seeds strewn by the wind. The stems seem sturdy and deep purple or purple flecked. In addition, the foliage generally appears dark green with varying degrees of saw-toothed edging.
When left to grow on its own, this adaptable plant spreads with great abundance and enthusiasm. It also puts on a spectacular show in the mid to late summer and into the early autumn. To grow it successfully in your garden, you need quite a bit of space because of its rapid spread and tendency to sprawl.
Using Joe Pye Weed In The Landscape
These native perennials grow easily and well. It also makes a marvelous addition to a butterfly, hummingbird, and bee garden. The flowers smell sweet with a scent reminiscent of vanilla and extremely attractive to these beneficial pollinators.
Eupatorium purpureum is especially recommended for those wishing to attract and support Monarch butterflies. Other butterflies, especially those that gets attracted to Joe Pye Weed flowers include black swallowtails and Tiger swallowtails.
Because these plants do grow tall (upwards of 6′ feet) and thick, they also make an excellent spring and summertime privacy screen. Planting them in a hedge along property lines makes a smart use.
Also, this plant provides an excellent backdrop for a perennial garden consisting of shorter types of self seeding annuals and/or a bulb garden.
Because these plants blossom in the late summer and into the fall, they can take up where your early bloomers left off. In this way, you can make sure of having pretty flower heads throughout the growing season.
If you struggle with damp, low spots in your yard, Joe Pye Weed serves as the perfect choice. It prefers average-to-rich soil and consistently moist, and it does quite well in areas of full sunlight to partial shade.
Full sun is definitely preferred because plants may grow excessively leggy and limp in light shade. With the right conditions, you can count on this sturdy survivor to grow well for you and provide both beauty and function.
Is It Really a Weed?
The term weed is open to interpretation. Eupatorium purpureum comes from the wild and one can quickly consider it as a wildflower.
It does grow natively, yet it submits to many positive uses and can make an excellent addition to a typical yard, a flower garden, and as a useful butterfly garden flower.
Joe Pye Weed As Medicine
In natural medicine, you can use Joe Pye Weed in a number of different ways. The roots are considered especially beneficial and are gathered to be dried, ground and brewed as an herbal tea tonic.
The plant holds a long history of use in Native American and backwoods medicine. You can use the roots, leaves, and flowers of all varieties to create teas that are said to address problems as diverse as:
- Respiratory Problems
- Bladder Stones
- Kidney Stones
The plant contains immune boosting polysaccharides, and stimulating the immune system may help the body to overcome fevers and illnesses on its own.
Dry The Flowers, Leaves & Roots
Sweet Joe Pye Weed with its vanilla scented leaves is the best choice for making medicinal and relaxing teas.
To use the leaves and the stems as a medicinal tea, you should harvest them during the summer prior to the opening of the flower buds. Hang them or lay them out in an area that has good air circulation. When completely dry, you can store them for use as a medicinal tea.
To make a pleasant tasting herbal tea, harvest the flowers and dry them separately.
You can also use dried roots to make a medicinal tea. Harvest them in the autumn. Dry them and grind them to steep as tea.
Joe Pye Weed Uses
The foliage and sturdy stems, also known as “purple bone set” repel mosquitoes when burned. It can be gathered and dried and bundled be burned as a natural mosquito repellent.
Because of its deep pigments, the seeds and the flowers also have uses in the creation of natural textile dyes in shades of red and pink.
The pretty flower clusters and sturdy, deep purple stems make a nice addition to cut flower arrangements.
Joe Pye Weed spreads via a rugged and extensive underground rhizomatous root system. It is also self-sowing. If you want and abundant and ever-growing stand of it you need do nothing.
The root system will travel with wild abandon, and when the flowers go to seed, the seeds will scatter on their own. Before you know it, you will find yourself welcoming (or shaking your fist at) abundant new plants!
You can also grow seedlings on your own by gathering and saving the seeds. You can also purchase them at your local nursery or online.
Keep the seeds chilled for approximately a week-to-ten days and then planting them in a light and airy seed starting medium. Cover the seeds lightly and loosely or simply press them into the surface of the soil.
Keep in mind that in nature, they sprout and grow without being covered at all. They need exposure to light in order to sprout properly.
You can also hand-sow the seed directly onto prepared soil early in the spring or late in the autumn. Just make sure the seed maintains good contact with the soil. You may wish to rake over the area lightly to prevent predation by birds.
Propagation by division is also possible. In the early spring, you will notice that the center of older plants may have died back. When you see this, you need to divide the plant.
Dig up the whole clump and remove the dead material from the center. What remains will be new growth, which you can separate and plant in pots or directly into the ground.
You can also purchase Joe Pye Weed potted plants at your local nursery. You’re most likely to find the cultivated version (E. maculatum) which appears a bit bushier and produces more flower heads than the wild variety. It also differs from the native plant in that it does not grow quite as tall.
Taking Care Of Joe Pye Weed
As a native plant, taking care of Joe Pye Weed makes an easy task. If you planted it well in a good location, it will go along merrily growing, blooming and spreading regardless of heat and drought.
It prefers occasional deep watering to sprinkling, and it will appreciate a thick layer of mulch to help hold moisture around the roots.
Preventing Joe Pye Invasion
Although this plant is not officially considered as invasive, it certainly can feel that way. It spreads quickly underground and sows it seed far and wide with the help of the wind.
To prevent Joe Pye Weed plants from overtaking your yard, everyone recommends deadheading the old blooms. This will not only increase the number of blooms you and your beneficial pollinators can enjoy, it will also prevent the development of seeds. Make sure to cut back the blooms completely before they go to seed in the autumn.
You can prevent excessive spread of the rhizomes by digging them up and dividing them regularly to keep them in their place. You can also keep the stray plants under control by simply mowing them down where you don’t want them before they get too big.
Enjoy A Breezy No Care Garden!
If you love the idea of a perennial garden coming back year after year with little or no attention from you, Joe Pye should definitely make it at the top of your plant list.
By combining it with other vigorous, flowering native plants you can create a yard requiring minimal care, attracts beautiful birds, bees and butterflies and presents a luxurious, rampant appearance.
15 of the Best Native Wildflowers for the US and Canada
If you’re hoping to create a more sustainable yard or garden, using native plants in the landscape is a no-brainer: these locally adapted species are beautiful, low maintenance, and waterwise.
And some native wildflowers are wide-ranging and highly adaptable, making them even easier for more gardeners to grow!
I’ve narrowed down a list of 15 species of native wildflowers that are widespread across the continental United States and Canada.
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And with a wide range, that means these plants tend to adapt well to different conditions.
For each of these wildflowers, I’m going to let you know what the foliage and flowers look like, and I’ll share info about about bloom time and height as well.
I’ll also include the details on each species’ native range along with its preferred sunlight, soil, and water requirements, so you can choose the best options for your particular landscape.
And in case you need ideas on how to use these beauties, I’ll offer some landscaping ideas – as well as some tips on where to obtain seeds.
Ready to learn about these lovely locals? Here’s a sneak peek:
15 of the Best Native Plants for the US and Canada
Note that all growing zones mentioned below were derived from the USDA Hardiness Zone map of planting regions.
1. Black-Eyed Susan
Black-eyed Susan makes a cheery appearance in the garden with its large, daisy-like yellow flowers with brown centers.
Known as Rudbeckia hirta among botanists and the scientifically minded, in the wild this plant grows in prairies, and is native to the eastern two-thirds of North America.
A member of the Asteraceae family, black-eyed Susan is a short-lived perennial that’s hardy in Zones 3 through 7, but it is also sometimes treated as an annual.
This wildflower blooms from summer until first frost.
Black-eyed Susan requires full sun and moderate water. With good drought tolerance, it is adaptable to soils that are dry to moist, as long as the soil is well-drained.
For more tips, be sure to read our complete guide to growing black-eyed Susans.
This species grows to be two to three feet tall and one to two feet wide, and it is not particularly attractive to deer.
For those looking for juglone-tolerant plants to include near black walnut trees, you can add black-eyed Susan to your list!
In the landscape, you might consider using black-eyed Susan in a variety of ways – it looks great in a flower bed or border, and is particularly showy when used in mass plantings.
New England aster, butterflyweed, and purple coneflower (selections we’ll be discussing a bit later) all make excellent companions for this species, both in terms of cultural requirements, and in terms of aesthetic appeal.
One of the advantages of gardening with natives is the opportunity to observe unique interactions between local plants and local pollinators. These relationships are to be both expected, and celebrated!
As for black-eyed Susan, it serves as a larval host for bordered patch butterflies (Chlosyne lacinia) and gorgone checkerspot butterflies (Chlosyne gorgone).
You can purchase black-eyed Susan seeds in 500 milligram packets from Botanical Interests.
2. Blue Vervain
Our next selection may be a bit less familiar to some gardeners than the black-eyed Susan, however, blue vervain has a wide native distribution, and is found growing wild in almost all US states and Canadian provinces.
Hardy in Zones 3 to 8, blue vervain has green leaves that are lance-shaped with deeply serrated margins.
Verbena hastata is also called “American blue vervain,” “swamp verbena,” “blue verbena,” and “simpler’s joy.”
A member of the verbena family, blue vervain has long spikes of purplish-blue flowers that bloom from midsummer to early fall.
Blue vervain has a spread of twelve to thirty inches, and usually grows to be two to four feet tall, sometimes reaching six feet tall.
In the wild, this plant grows in moist locations, where it is highly adaptable to different amounts of light. This species can grow in full sun, part shade, or full shade.
However, its moisture requirements are not as flexible. It should be grown in soil that is moist or wet, and makes a great selection for a rain garden.
Blue vervain can self-seed when grown in the right conditions, so pick off spent flowers if you want to prevent spread.
Alternatively, you might locate it where its spread would be appreciated, such as in a naturalized-type garden.
Joe-pye weed, common self-heal, and cardinal flower make ideal companions.
You’ll find blue vervain seeds in a choice of package sizes from Everwilde Farms via Amazon.
A type of milkweed, butterflyweed has deep orange flower clusters held aloft above dark green foliage.
In Canada, this plant is native to Ontario and Newfoundland, while in the US its native range stretches from New England to Florida, and west to Colorado and Texas.
Asclepias tuberosa is hardy in Zones 3 to 9, and blooms from May through September.
This species can thrive in full sun or part shade. Its water needs are low once established, and it is quite drought tolerant.
Reaching heights of one to three feet, butterflyweed is adaptable to many different soil types as long as it has good drainage. For further guidance, make sure to read our complete guide to growing milkweed.
Fitting companions for butterflyweed include purple coneflower, gray goldenrod, common yarrow, wild bergamot, nodding onion, and black-eyed Susan.
In fact, a design that includes all six of these species would look absolutely beautiful!
You’ll find both conventionally and organically grown butterflyweed seeds available for purchase in packs of 150 milligrams at Botanical Interests.
If this variety of milkweed isn’t native to your particular region, have a look at our guide to 15 of the best types of milkweed for monarchs to identify the species that are best suited to your area.
4. Cardinal Flower
A type of lobelia, cardinal flower is a native plant that produces spikes of bright red flowers. These red inflorescences are held above dark green leaves that are lance-shaped with finely serrated margins.
This plant has a very wide native distribution, ranging from southern Canada all the way south to northern Colombia in South America.
In the US its native range stretches from Maine south to Florida, with its western range spanning to Minnesota, Nebraska, and Colorado, and across the southwest to California.
Lobelia cardinalis starts producing its showy red blooms in late summer, making it one of the best perennials to grow for fall color.
This member of the bellflower family is hardy in Zones 3 to 9, and reaches two to three feet tall, or sometimes up to four feet.
Cardinal flower thrives in full sun or part shade, with afternoon shade appreciated in hotter climates.
This species thrives in moist to wet soils, and since it tolerates brief flooding, it can be used in rain gardens.
Growing best in soils with plenty of organic matter, cardinal flower shows moderate deer resistance.
And although it may not attract deer, it does attract hummingbirds! The long, red, tubular flowers of this species make it a great choice for a hummingbird garden.
Blue vervain, fall sneezeweed, or common self-heal will make good companions.
Want to add this hummingbird favorite to your garden? You’ll find seeds in an assortment of packet sizes from Everwilde Farms via Amazon.
5. Common Self-Heal
Common self-heal is easily recognizable as a member of the mint family.
As do many of the members of this family, common self-heal has spikes of blueish purple flowers, square stems, and leaves arranged on the stems in opposite pairs.
However, this species lacks the fragrant flowers and foliage that its numerous mint relatives are known for.
Also known as “lance self-heal” and “heal all,” this plant has an extremely wide native distribution, growing wild across North America, and also throughout Europe and most of Asia.
Prunella vulgaris blooms from midsummer until fall, and though its flowers are usually blue or purple, they are sometimes seen in pink or white.
Common self-heal grows to be twelve inches tall and eight inches wide, and is hardy in Zones 4 to 8.
Adapted to both full sun and part shade, it does best with afternoon shade in hotter climates. It will thrive in different soil types but prefers moist conditions.
An edible plant, as its common names suggest, common self-heal is often used medicinally.
But humans aren’t the only ones who appreciate it – this species is also a larval host for the clouded sulphur butterfly (Colias philodice).
Like many members of the mint family, common self-heal makes an excellent groundcover.
Its low stature means it can be placed at the front of a bed with some taller companions behind it. Cardinal flower, blue vervain, and fall sneezeweed make good moisture-loving companions for this species.
You can purchase packs of 50 seeds of common self-heal from West Seed Farm via Amazon.
6. Common Yarrow
Another member of the aster family, common yarrow is widespread not only across North America, but throughout the northern hemisphere.
With delicate fern-like leaves, and umbels of flowers that are usually white, Achillea millefolium flowers from spring in southern locations to fall in more northern areas. Flower clusters are also sometimes pink.
Common yarrow reaches two to three feet in height with a spread of two to three feet.
Drought tolerant, it grows best in full sun and can thrive in dry to moderately moist conditions.
Common yarrow does best in sandy loam soils and requires good drainage. If grown in rich, overly moist soils, plants can flop over. You can find more tips on growing yarrow in our guide.
Like common self-heal, which was mentioned above, common yarrow is widely used as a medicinal plant.
The striking umbel-shaped flowerheads of this plant provide structural interest in a mixed bed planting. Common yarrow also looks striking in mass plantings.
Good garden companions include purple coneflower, gray goldenrod, butterflyweed, wild bergamot, and black-eyed Susan.
Ready to plant yarrow from seed? You’ll find 50 milligram packs of Colorado blend, a selection with pink, red, yellow, and white flowers, at Botanical Interests.
7. Fall Sneezeweed
Don’t expect this plant to make you sneeze – its odd common name comes from the plant’s historical use as snuff.
Fall sneezeweed is native to most of the US and Canada, except for New England, where it has naturalized.
Helenium autumnale is a perennial that has dark green foliage. Flowers have wedge-shaped, yellow petals with greenish yellow centers.
An excellent choice for late summer blooms, fall sneezeweed is in flower from late summer through fall.
A member of the aster family, this species requires full sun and moist soil, preferably clay.
Fall sneezeweed reaches three to five feet tall, has a spread of two to three feet, and is deer resistant.
It’s a great wildflower to include in your cut flower garden. Cardinal flower or common self-heal will make good companions.
You can find fall sneezeweed seeds in a selection of package sizes from Everwilde Farms via Amazon.
After wildfires wreak havoc, fireweed is one of the first species to recolonize the burnt landscape, spreading swaths of bright magenta flowers across the land.
Fireweed has an extremely wide distribution throughout the Northern Hemisphere, including most of North America, Europe, and Asia.
In the US, it grows in Alaska, throughout the western states, in the Midwest, and from Tennessee and North Carolina north to Maine. It’s also native to every province in Canada. This perennial is hardy in Zones 2 to 7.
Classified taxonomically as Chamerion angustifolium, fireweed is also known as “fire weed” (written as two words,) “narrow leaf fireweed,” and “blooming sally.” It was previously classified as Epilobium angustifolium.
Fireweed’s long, narrow leaves look like those of willows, inspiring a couple of other common names: “willow herb” and “great willow herb.”
A member of the Onagraceae family like its relative evening primrose, fireweed’s upright racemes of magenta flowers bloom from summer to fall.
Though fireweed usually grows to heights of two to six feet, occasionally it reaches an outstanding nine feet tall. It typically has a spread one to three feet.
This species grows well in full sun, but in climates with hot summers, it is happier in part shade.
Fireweed is adaptable to different levels of moisture availability, from medium-dry to medium-wet. It grows best in acidic soils that are rich in organic matter and well-drained, with a pH between 5.0 and 6.6.
C. angustifolium spreads via rhizomes and self-seeding, so this plant works best in a naturalized-type planting.
It is also suitable for rock gardens, borders, and cottage gardens, and is very striking when grown in large swaths, for more color impact.
This species is not very aggressive about keeping its place in a mixed bed. In the wild, it’s usually found growing with native grasses and sedges, so you might take a cue from nature and create a similar combination.
Fireweed is a larval host to the white-lined sphinx moth (Hyles lineata), and also attracts long-tongued bees and hummingbirds.
You’ll find fireweed in jumbo packets of 1,250 seeds from Everwilde Farms via Amazon.
9. Gray Goldenrod
With its large sprays of golden flowers, gray goldenrod creates a mass of bright color from summer to fall.
Native to the eastern two-thirds of North America, Solidago nemoralis is hardy in Zones 3 to 9.
A member of the sunflower family, gray goldenrod has grayish-green foliage, and its spikes of yellow flowers nod slightly when in full bloom.
Also called “prairie goldenrod,” “old field goldenrod,” or “field goldenrod,” this perennial grows to be six to 24 inches tall with a six- to 24-inch spread. It’s one of the smaller goldenrods.
Gray goldenrod can grow in full sun or part shade, tolerates dry or medium-dry conditions, and thrives in poor soil. It’s ideal for planting in sandy, rocky locations.
This species spreads by rhizomes and self-seeding, so it is best used in naturalized plantings, such as in cottage gardens.
Butterflyweed, black-eyed Susan, common yarrow, Jerusalem artichoke, nodding onion, and wild bergamot make excellent companions for gray goldenrod.
Find gray goldenrod in packs of 2,000 seeds from Everwilde Farms via Amazon.
10. Jerusalem Artichoke
Related to sunflowers, the Jerusalem artichoke is known for its edible tuber, which has a taste reminiscent of globe artichoke.
This species is native to eastern and central North America, the Intermountain West, Idaho, and Washington. It is hardy in Zones 3 to 9.
Also called sunchoke, the flowers of Helianthus tuberosus have yellow petals and greenish-yellow centers, with green foliage that is rough to the touch.
This wildflower grows to be six to 10 feet tall with a spread of three to five feet, and it blooms in late summer.
Jerusalem artichokes are adaptable to either full sun or part shade, and either dry or moderately moist soils.
A somewhat drought tolerant plant, Jerusalem artichokes are adaptable to different soil types, provided the soil drains well. You can read more about growing and caring for Jerusalem artichokes in our guide.
This species spreads through rhizomes and self-seeding, so it is best used in a natural-type planting where its spread will be appreciated rather than regretted.
Purple coneflower, wild bergamot, nodding onion, and New England aster will make good companions.
Ready to plant these perennials? You can purchase Jerusalem artichokes tubers from Yumheart Gardens via Amazon.
11. Joe-Pye Weed
With flat clusters of fragrant pink or purple flowers, Joe-pye weed is a pollinator favorite.
This plant is native to most of the northern two-thirds of North America, and is hardy in Zones 4 to 8.
A member of the composite family, Eutrochium maculatum, the variety that I am recommending here is a perennial species that was formerly classified as Eupatorium purpureum.
There are several more closely related species that also go by this common name, and all have similar growing requirements. You can read more about them in our guide.
Its leaves are oval-shaped with serrated margins on stems that have purplish spots, giving this species another of its common names, “spotted joe-pye weed.”
Joe-pye weed’s pink or purple flower clusters bloom from late summer to autumn, and look most dramatic when used in mass plantings.
Joe-pye weed (Eutrochium maculatum) in the background with Aster macrophyllus ‘Twilight’ in the foreground.
Joe-pye weed grows four to seven feet tall with a spread of three to four feet.
It can grow in full sun or light shade, and prefers rich soils rich with plenty of organic matter. Adaptable to moderate or wet conditions, it makes a good member of a rain garden.
Combine joe-pye weed with New England asters, fall sneezeweed, common self-heal, or blue vervain.
Joe-pye weed seeds are available in an array of packet sizes from Everwilde Farms via Amazon.
12. New England Aster
Looking for a native substitute or companion for fall blooming chrysanthemums? Why not give New England aster a try?
Despite its common name, this species has a range well beyond New England.
It’s native to most of the eastern half of Canada, and a large swath of the US, ranging from New England south to Georgia, and west to Oklahoma, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana, as well as the Pacific Northwest.
New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) has stout stems and dense foliage, with leaves that clasp its stems.
Blooming from late summer until frost, the flowers have orange centers. The petals are usually lavender, but can also be blue or white.
This plant grows to be three to six feet tall and two to three feet wide.
It requires full sun and prefers rich, moderately moist to moist soils with good drainage. To learn more, be sure to read our complete guide to growing New England asters.
In the landscape, New England aster makes an excellent addition to the cut flower garden. Good companions include black-eyed Susans, Jerusalem artichokes, and fall sneezeweed.
Another pollinator favorite, New England aster is a larval host to pearl crescent butterflies (Phyciodes tharos).
New England aster seeds are available in packs of 1,000 from Everwilde Farms via Amazon.
13. Nodding Onion
When choosing wildflowers for a native landscape, consider adding some visual interest by including a member of the Allium genus, such as nodding onion (Allium cernuum).
In the US, nodding onion’s native range spreads from New York to Georgia, and west to Arizona, Utah, Washington, and Oregon. In Canada, this species’ natural range includes British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Saskatchewan.
Also called “nodding wild onion” and perennial in Zones 4 to 8, the leaves of this species are grass-like.
Unlike other alliums, the flower clusters of nodding onion aren’t held upright, as they are with chives.
Instead, inflorescences are loose clusters of dangling pink or purple flowers, and they bloom in the summer. Occasionally, the flowers are white.
A member of the Amaryllis family, nodding onion grows to heights of 12 to 18 inches with a spread of three to six inches.
This species can be grown in full sun or light shade. Afternoon shade is particularly welcomed in hot climates.
Nodding onion adapts readily to dry to moderately moist conditions, grows best in sandy loam, and prefers an alkaline soil pH.
Like the black-eyed Susan, this species can tolerate juglone and is not attractive to deer.
Nodding onion can be put to good use in rock gardens, cottage gardens, or natural areas. Because of its smaller stature, it would be well-placed at the front of a planting.
For even more visual impact, grow nodding onion in groups of plants rather than planting single specimens.
Nodding onion will find good companions among butterflyweed, wild bergamot, black-eyed Susan, purple coneflower, common yarrow, gray goldenrod, and Jerusalem artichoke.
You can find packs of 200 nodding onion seeds available from Everwilde Farms via Amazon.
14. Purple Coneflower
Purple coneflower, a favorite of native plant enthusiasts, parades its large, showy flowers from summer until first frost.
Also known as Echinacea purpurea, purple coneflower is native to the eastern United States, from the East Coast west to Texas, Colorado, Nebraska, and the Great Lakes region.
Perennial in Zones 3-8, this species reaches heights of two to five feet tall, and has a spread of 18 to 24 inches.
Purple coneflower has lance- or oval-shaped green leaves. Its large flowers have purplish pink petals and large, cone-shaped, orange centers.
This species grows best in full sun, but it will also tolerate part shade.
Drought tolerant, purple coneflower has low to medium moisture requirements, and needs to be planted in soil that drains well. It can tolerate rocky, clay, and shallow soils.
To learn more about this plant’s needs, be sure to read our guide to growing coneflowers.
When it comes to wildlife, birds appreciate the dried seed heads of purple coneflower, but deer tend to leave it alone.
Purple coneflower is also well known for its medicinal qualities, and is one of the species used to craft echinacea supplements.
In the landscape, purple coneflower can be used as a specimen plant, and it also works wonderfully in borders and beds.
Good companions for purple coneflower include black-eyed Susan, butterflyweed, common yarrow, gray goldenrod, New England aster, nodding onion, wild bergamot, and Jerusalem artichoke.
Purple coneflower seeds are available from Botanical Interests in 400 milligram packets.
15. Wild Bergamot
Our final selection is pure pleasure in a plant. Wild bergamot is undoubtedly a delight for the eyes, but its fragrant flowers and foliage make it a joy for the nose as well.
There are many species of bergamot or “bee balm,” as it’s also called, but Monarda fistulosa is one that has an extremely wide native range, including most of southern Canada.
In the US, its range extends from the East Coast to the Rockies, or depending on who you ask, most of the western states as well.
Wild bergamot is a hardy perennial in Zones 4 to 8, and it is a member of the mint family. It’s also called “Oswego tea” or “horsemint,” though this latter name is also used for other members of the mint family.
Wild bergamot has square stems, and grayish-green leaves that are arranged in opposite pairs. Its flowers bloom from summer to fall, growing in globular clusters that look like pom-poms and are pink to lilac in color.
This species grows to be three to four feet tall and 18 to 24 inches wide.
It thrives in full sun to part shade, likes dry to medium soil moisture, and is somewhat drought tolerant. It’s adaptable to many soil types but requires good drainage.
For tips on cultivating this and other types of monarda, as well as information about the use of monarda as a medicinal plant, check out our bee balm growing guide.
As its common name “bee balm” suggests, this species attracts bees, but also butterflies, and is a larval host for the raspberry pyrausta butterfly (Pyrausta signatalis).
Hummingbirds are also frequent visitors, feeding from its tube-shaped individual flowers.
In the landscape, you might use this native in an herb garden or perennial border.
Wild bergamot will find good companions among black-eyed Susan, butterflyweed, common yarrow, gray goldenrod, Jerusalem artichoke, nodding onion, and purple coneflower.
Wild bergamot is available for purchase in 100-milligram seed packs from Botanical Interests.
Turn on the Wildflower Power
Now that you have a short list of gorgeous options to choose from, planting native wildflowers at home should be even easier.
And if you want some tips on how to bring these plants together, make sure to read our article on growing native wildflowers in the landscape for lots of tips on how to really let these plants shine.
Do you have any other favorite native wildflowers? Let us know in the comments section below, and feel free to show off your own native plantings with a photo or two!
Want to learn about a few more wildflowers that are native to North America? Check out these articles next:
- 11 Native Blue Wildflowers for the Garden
- How to Grow and Care for Columbine Flowers
- How to Grow and Care for Calico Aster in the Late Summer to Fall Garden
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