Plant of the Month: Eutrochium maculatum ‘Gateway’
Guest Author: Anna Claire Cunningham – 2019 Summer Intern
Joe-pye weed is a very popular perennial due to its magnificent mauve flower heads atop striking reddish-purple stems and impressive height, topping out at 7 feet. This plant will perform best in full sun to part shade and in moist, well drained soils. The stems have whorls of 4-5 lance-shaped leaves. Joe-pye weed blooms mid-summer for seasonal interest, but continues to impress with its stunning seed heads that continue through early winter. Even before the flowers open up, the delicate nature of the buds have a compelling effect over any garden.
Eutrochium maculatum ‘Gateway’, Joe-pye weed, is formerly known as Eupatorium maculatum. Eutrochium is a subgroup of the Asteraceae family. Other reclassified species include Conoclinium and Ageratina. These all have similar characteristics, but the differences are too great for them to be classified within the same species.
There are myriad cultivars available for home use. A good cultivar to brighten up a darker space would be Eupatorium fistulosum f. albidum ‘Bartered Bride’ with its large head of white flowers. For a woodland setting, one can use the similar species, Ageratina altissima (snakeroot), which does well under a canopy of trees. Snakeroot adds a subtle pop of white. If one is looking for a more compact version, with a large impact, Eutrochium dubium ‘Little Joe’ is a wonderful addition, growing to a maximum height of 4 feet tall.
Eutrochium maculatum ‘Gateway’ can be grown in a larger meadow planting, in a bed, where some drama is needed, or in a basic border planting. It can be utilized in a formal planting or a more naturalistic planting setting. It prefers moist soil with full sun to light shade.
Since these are summer bloomers, it is a good idea to keep them well watered, so they do not wilt on the hottest of days. It is also a good idea to avoid flop by deadheading them. If they are cut back in early to late spring, they should flush back out rather quickly and flower again, though the heads will be slightly smaller.
This showy perennial is also a perfect pollinator plant. It attracts all kinds of insects, including butterflies, bees and beetles! This fragrant flower is a great addition to any cut flower arrangement, as the focus or as a filler, due to its branching nature. If you are looking for this plant in the Arboretum, it is located in both Biostream beds directly behind McCabe Library.