By Susan Patterson, Master Gardener
If drawing hummingbirds and butterflies to your garden is something that you wish to do, you must plant an ironweed plant. This sun-loving perennial is hardy in United States Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 8 and can grow between 2 and 8 feet depending on variety. Keep reading to learn more about growing ironweed flowers.
What Does Ironweed Look Like?
Ironweed plants have some truly beautiful and distinguishing characteristics. Among these is a particularly tall and stiff upright habit. They stand erect with tooth-shaped leaves and have small purple flowers gathered in loose bunches. This makes them a favorite cut flower.
Fond of damp locations, this beautiful flower is often seen along the banks of marshes or small bodies of water. Some varieties are even drought tolerant.
Ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis) is a member of the Asteraceae family and includes several species such as Vernonia arkansana, V. baldwinii, V. fasciculata, V. gigantea, V. missurica. All of these ironweed varieties have attractive foliage, striking blooms and interesting fall color.
Using Ironweed Plant in the Garden
Ironweed is at home in the garden and is an attractive back-of-the-bed plant that brings elegance and a pop of color to any garden space. Allow plenty of room for these beauties to spread, some like to stretch out as far as 3 feet. If you’re limited in space, cut the stems midsummer about halfway – this will control growth.
Vernonia ironweed care is not difficult once you find the best location for your plant. Provide organic compost in the spring and a layer of mulch. Water regularly, while the plant is establishing. This will help prevent moisture loss and provide protection. No other special care is required for this lovely and hardy butterfly magnet.