Grow Joe Pye Weed for Butterflies and Bees

Learn how to grow and care for Joe Pye weed: a late-blooming fuzzy, fragrant plant that butterflies and bees absolutely love.

Joe Pye Weed Care and Growing Tips

Shutterstock 584158000Pieter Bruin/Shutterstock
Red admiral butterfly on Joe Pye weed blooms
  • Common name: Joe Pye weed
  • Botanical Name: Eutrochium
  • Growing Zones: 4 to 9
  • Attracts: Bees, butterflies, moths
  • Light needs: Sun or part shade
  • Size: 5 to 7 feet tall
  • Grown for: Showy pink blooms that smell like vanilla
  • Foliage: Lance-shaped dark green leaves

Fortunately for gardeners in rainy areas, Joe Pye weed does well in wet soil. Plant it in sun or part shade in a rain garden or soggy corner, where it’ll flourish. Once the fragrant flowers fade, seed heads offer texture and interest to a winter garden. Make sure to give the plant a good amount of space. It reaches heights of up to 7 feet tall. If you don’t have a ton of space, smaller cultivars are available.

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Benefits of Growing Joe Pye Weed

309882408 1 Timothy Schirripa Bnb Pc 2022, joe pye weedCourtesy Timothy Schirripa
Eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly 

There’s a good reason this plant frequently appears on best flowers for butterflies lists. This towering native perennial blooms well into fall, bringing the season’s last butterflies to your yard. Moths and native bees love the fuzzy flowers, too! If you’re interested in butterfly or insect photography, the tall blooms give you a chance to photograph visitors from a new perspective. The blooms give off a faint vanilla scent; colors can range from pink to reddish purple and are eye-catching in the garden.

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Plant Name and History

If you’re curious about the name, there’s been some discrepancy over whether “Joe Pye” was a real person. For many years, botanists couldn’t agree on the source of the name or separate legend from potential fact. In recent years, scholarly study has pointed to a Mohican tribal leader named Joseph Shauquethequeat—who was called “Joe Pye” by nearby colonists—as the man for whom the plant was named. There’s no absolute connection between Shauquethequeat and the plant that would eventually bear his name, but we do know Shauquethequeat had knowledge of tribal medicine.

Next, learn how to grow native butterfly weed for monarchs.

Emily Hannemann
Emily Hannemann is an associate editor for Birds & Blooms Digital. Throughout her years with the publication, she has written multiple articles for print as well as digital, all covering birding and gardening. In her role as associate editor, she is responsible for creating and editing articles on the subject of birding and gardening, as well as putting together Birds & Bloom's daily digital newsletter. After graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a master's degree in magazine journalism and undergraduate degrees in journalism and English, she has more than eight years of experience in the magazine, newspaper, and book industries.