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joe pye weed seed pods

Remove all weeds and grasses from the planting area. Enrich the planting area with as much as a 3-inch layer of compost worked into the top 3 or 4 inches of soil. Rake the area smooth.

Shake the seed from the flower heads and store the seeds in the paper bag in a cool (60 to 75 degrees F) location. Store for as long as four weeks without refrigeration if you are planning on planting the seeds in the fall. If you are planting the seeds in the spring and holding them over the winter, store in an open paper bag in the refrigerator for at least six weeks. The cold temperatures increase the sprouting or germination rate.

Collect Joe Pye weed seeds by finding flower heads that are faded and dry and you can plainly see the tiny thin seeds still attached to the base of the flower heads. Each seed has a tiny bit of fluff attached to it so the wind can carry it away from the mother plant. Carefully cut the stem below where the seeds are attached to the old flower head with hand shears and place the old flower head in a paper bag. Seeds are usually available for harvest in late summer and early fall.

Joe Pye weed (Eupatoriadelphus fistulosus) is a wildflower native to the eastern half of the United States in USDA horticultural zones 3 to 9. It grows to 6 feet tall and has a hollow stem with large oblong leaves up to 10 inches long. The plants can form dense colonies if grown in the right conditions–damp or wet rich soils. The flowers are attractive to a number of butterflies, and the plant can produce flowers during most of the growing season if conditions are suitable. Several improved varieties are available with brighter or darker blooms than the wild version.

Locate an area of the garden that stays moist and receives up to six hours of sun each day. Good air circulation around the planting bed is encouraged as Joe Pye weed is susceptible to mildew diseases. Joe Pye weed does not like weed competition, so make your planting area no deeper than 2 feet if planting against a wall or fence or 4 feet wide if planting in beds that have access on both sides. The reason for this is so you can reach into the beds and pull the weeds with damaging the tall, spindly plants.

Spread the seeds over the planting area and slightly cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil. It is OK if some of the seeds can still be seen on the surface of the soil. Lightly water the seeds so they will adhere to the compost soil mixture and not blow away. If planting in the fall, they should not need any extra moisture until the next spring or summer when the plants need to be watered regularly. If planting in the spring, do not allow the soil to dry out until the plants are actively growing, then water regularly to keep the soil moist, but not wet.

According to folklore, Joe Pye Weed was named for a colonial-era Native American, Joe Pye, who used it to treat fevers and taught early colonists to use it to treat an outbreak of typhus.

The first is to make a mixture of milk and water, about 60% milk. Add the solution to a spray bottle and spray your plants once a week while the fungus is present. It’s not known exactly why this works, but most think that the milk proteins interact with the sun to create an antiseptic effect. Any fungi are destroyed, but the plant is not hurt. A milk spray works best when it’s used preventatively.

3. It’s a Beautiful Addition to Your Flower Garden:

However, Joe Pye Weed is sometimes affected by a fungal disease called powdery mildew. You can recognize powdery mildew by the grayish-white splotches on both sides of the plant’s leaves. These blemishes can reduce the plant’s ability to photosynthesize and cause the leaves to dry up.

Many native wildflowers (and their cultivated varieties) are important food sources for local birds and insects.

There are also several cultivars available.’ Gateway’ has dark red stems and dark purple or pink flowers. It’s prized for its vanilla-scented flowers. For folks with limited space,’ Baby Joe’ is a dwarf variety that reaches 3-4 feet. ‘ Chocolate’ is a unique choice because it has dark leaves, maroon stems, and white flowers.

Joe-pye weeds in the garden prefer full sun to partial shade. They also like to be kept somewhat moist in average to rich soil. Growing Joe-pye weed will even tolerate wet soil conditions but not overly dry sites. Therefore, in areas with hot, dry summers, plant these ornamental beauties in partially shaded locales.

There’s little maintenance involved with Joe-pye weed care. The plant does enjoy regular, deep watering and will withstand heat and drought fairly well when the soil is kept moist or shade is provided. A layer of mulch will help retain moisture levels too.

What are Joe-Pye Weed Flowers?

For those that don’t have this wildflower presently growing on your property, you can usually find them in nurseries and garden centers. However, many of these Joe-pye weed plants are sold as E. maculatum. This type has more foliage and the flower heads as its wild counterpart. ‘Gateway’ is a popular cultivar for home gardens as it is a somewhat shorter variety.

In their native environment, these plants can be found in thickets and woodlands throughout the eastern half of North America. The plants are hardy from USDA Zones 4 through 9. They reach heights of anywhere between 3 and 12 feet (1-4 m.), offering great focal interest when using Joe-pye weeds in the garden. In addition, the flowers have a light vanilla fragrance that becomes more intense when crushed.

Plants die back to the ground in late fall. This dead growth can be cut back or left over winter and cut in spring.