Main page

Setting up a wildlife garden

Plants for butterflies

Plants for bees

Plants for hummingbirds

Plants for birds

Plant map




Eupatorium sp. or Eupatoriadelphus sp.(Joe pye weeds)
Joe Pye Weed

Zone: 4 to 8

Soil: sand to clay

Light: Full sun to part sun

Bloom colour: Pink or white

Bloom period: August

Height: 3 to 10 feet

Moisture:Usually medium to moist

Attracts: A variety of bees and butterflies.

Notes:This is a fairly large genus, but usually, only a few species are available in nurseries, the most common being Spotted Joe-Pye Weed. The Joe-Pye weeds have been separated from the Bonesets into the genus Eupatoriadelphus, but you will still see them commonly referred to as Eupatorium.

These plants are only in flower for a few weeks, during which time, they become quite popular with a lot of insects. They are especially popular with bumblebees, green metallic sweat bees and skipper butterflies. In full sun, plant Eupatorium maculatum which has flatter flowerheads than Eupatorium purpureum and often has leaves in pairs. The latter species is more shade tolerant and resents full sun. It is typical of its genus in having whorled leaves.

The individual flowers are not very attractive, but a mass of pink flowerheads of this plant can be eye-catching. Plant several specimens a few feet apart from each other. Most species are tall and should be planted at the back of the border. Be prepared to stake the plants in part-shade to prevent them from bending over during heavy rain.

Eupatorium dubium is on the small side, but still grows to four feet tall. It is found in the Eastern coastal states and provinces. Eupatorium maculatum and purpureum are both native to Ontario.

Eupatorium purpureum - Joe Pye Weed
Joe Pye Weed bush
Eupatorium maculatum -Spotted Joe Pye Weed
Eupatorium with Skipper
Eupatorium maculatum with Fiery Skipper
Eupatoriuim dubium
Eupatorium dubium 'Little Joe'

Another full sun alternative to Joe-Pye weed that is a bit more tolerant of dry soils is common Boneset, instantly recognisable by its pairs of leaves that join at the base around the stem. Bonesets are really a separate group of plants from the Joe-Pye weeds with clusters of open white flowers. They are more popular with beneficial wasps than the Joe-Pye weeds. They are generally a little smaller too. Plant them in the same manner as Joe-Pye weeds.

Eupatorium perfoliatum - Boneset  
Eupatorium rugosum

If your garden does not get too much sun, then try Eupatorium rugosum. It has darker leaves than other nursery plants and so it tolerates more shade. It also does better in drier soils than the other species listed. This particular species is one of the very last plants to flower in the garden. In Toronto, this plant begins to flower in October and can therefore be an important late season nectar source for bees.

Eupatorium rugosum  
Boneset with locust borer Common boneset with Polistes fuscatus
Common boneset with locust borer Common boneset with Polistes fuscatus