Great Design Plants: A Bevy of Beauties from the Meadow

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The Eupatorium genus includes a plant for everybody. From purple to magenta to white blossoms, from gold leaves into green leaves, from brief to gargantuan types, you simply can’t go wrong. In winter the species that are taller provide fantastic architecture that birds perch on, and since these plants have hollow stems, it is possible to leave them up with no snow and ice becoming to the crowns. Sow seeds in fall or winter and let nature do the work of stratifying for you. All year long Eupatorium varieties may be the heartbeat of a thriving garden.

Benjamin Vogt / Monarch Gardens

Botanical name: Eupatorium spp
Common names: Joe Pye Weed, mistflower, boneset, snakeroot
Resource: Varies by species, however most are native to the Central into Eastern Plains, Midwest, Southeast and New England
USDA Islands: 3 to 9, depending on species (find your zone)
Water necessity: Varies by species, from moist to dry; most are quite flexible once recognized
Light requirement: Full sun to partial shade
Mature size: Slowly spreading clump to several feet, but depends on species
Benefits and tolerances: A musky scent butterflies can not resist; great perches for birds; exceptional tropical form
Seasonal interest: Masses of blooms from summer through autumn (depends on species, so get one of each for lasting colour); a haunting presence in autumn and winter; leaf color can be a Fantastic yellow in positive autumn states
When to plant: Spring to fall

Barbara Pintozzi

The prior image shows Eupatorium fistulosum (grows 5 to 8 ft tall) in the front right and Eupatorium purpureum (grows 4 to 6 feet tall) in the middle back.

Both are hardy in zones 4 to 2 and like moderate to moist soils, ranging from sand to clay. Full sun is best for all these late-summer bloomers, however I have heard of folks who have E. purpureum in complete, dry colour and it does well.

As you can see, their rust-colored seed heads have a lovely sheen in late fall. These plants will slowly spread annually to form thick clumps, reminiscent of bamboo, perhaps doubling in diameter every couple of decades.

In late autumn, Eupatorium ‘Phantom (displayed here) additionally shows dim, attractive seed heads.

Benjamin Vogt / Monarch Gardens

In the background is E. purpureum, and in the foreground is the cultivar E. altissimum ‘Prairie Jewel’. This white-blooming cultivar grows in full to partial sun, in dry to moderate soil. Literally clouds of pests gorge on it in early fall, making another layer of blossoms that lift en masse because you walk by.

‘Prairie Jewel’ grows to about 4 feet tall and wide in 3 decades. Like all Eupatorium, it could be cut 50 percent in mid to late spring to maintain it even more compact and increase blossoms.

Benjamin Vogt / Monarch Gardens

‘Prairie Jewel’ has bright leaves in spring. The yellow turns a creamy white.

Not pictured but also with white blossoms is E. perfoliatum, or boneset. It is very cold hardy (zones 3 to 8) and enjoys a richer, moister soil in full to partial sunlight. It reaches 3 to 4 ft tall and wide — it’s a good clumper like all the previously mentioned Eupatorium. It is found all over the Central, Northern and Southern Plains, and prairie settlers after thought the leaves might help set fractured bones.

Benjamin Vogt / Monarch Gardens

Eupatorium coelestinum comes in both white- and purple-blooming varieties. Shown here is ‘Gateway’ (zones 5 to 10), which reaches approximately 2 ft tall. Even though it spreads more aggressively than other Eupatorium, it’s very easily torn out of the soil and divided.

Again, insects love this, and this species has reliable yellow fall color. Plant it in full to partial sun in pretty much any soil. I’ve some divisions in dry shade, in which it’s less aggressive and nothing else could grow.

Missouri Botanical Garden

E. rugosum ‘Chocolate’ is a dark-leaved, white-blooming, well-behaved clumper. The more sunlight it’s in, the wetter the soil it needs; full sun and moist soil are best. On average it develops about 2 to 3 feet wide and tall.

The best way to utilize them. Eupatorium plants are adaptable, which means you may locate one that will work for any situation. I like the tall species such as accents at corners or facilities of beds, and also the shorter species as filler to shade the floor so weeds can not grow.

Planting notes. Any Eupatorium species could go in the ground from early spring into late autumn. Soil and mild states vary by species, as mentioned previously, but this really is a tolerant group.

Benjamin Vogt / Monarch Gardens

When you take down your plants in early March, cut on the hollow stalks into 6-inch lengths. Make bundles of them and set them on fences or walls to make native bee homes.

Nearly all harvest and flower pollination is done by native bees, like blue masons — solitary bees who incubate their young in hollow stems and holes in timber. Some of those young even overwinter in those areas. Help out the parasitic populations and utilize Eupatorium stems for yet another season: the bee-breeding one.

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