jakejones_gw

Anyone Grow Vernonia -- Ironweed

jakejones
11 years ago

Pros: Native, tall, not yellow. In the aster family.

Cons: small flowers. Spindly stems.

Has it been worth growing it?

Comments (24)

  • jakejones
    Original Author
    11 years ago

    For those who are interested ...

    Here is a link that might be useful: Blog entry on Vernonia

  • echinaceamaniac
    11 years ago

    It grows on the side of the road here in big groups. It's beautiful. It looks really good with goldenrods which grow near it.

  • Marie Tulin
    11 years ago

    I have grown it for three years, and I am looking for more. I think it is a big, beautiful, stately eye catching plant.
    Its stems are thin, but support the plant just fine. If it needs staking, it is not like harnessing a miscanthus.

    Do not pinch it to make it bushier. That makes it grown multiple flower buds which don't show as well as the larger flowers on unpinched stems.

    I think the overall effect of the flowers is very good. I can see them from 20 feet away (it is in the back of my border)

    I'm not sure it would show up well in a way back border viewed from a hundred feet. So don't put it there.

    Note it does have different colors, some appear more intense than others. But I have the 'regular' pink and I'm happy with it.

  • Marie Tulin
    11 years ago

    I forgot to say this is a "three year" plant. First year it sleeps, second a fast creep, year three gangbusters.

  • MissMyGardens
    11 years ago

    I didn't dead head my Veronia noveboracensis (NY) last year and have a happy little "nursery" of reseeds going all around one plant. They've got the native pink flowers and are delicate when you look at them closely.

    Not sure if I should leave them where they are to grow for next 2 years (not enough light to really thrive) or pot up to give better conditions for maturation. I'll be moving some to make mixed back/mid border in another bed with Agastache Rupestris and Verbena bonariensis.

  • marymd7
    11 years ago

    I love vernonia. It is a trouble-free plant for me. In addition to the other benefits catalogued above, it is a magnet for butterflies and other pollinators when it's in bloom. I have it in a border with other natives and that bed absolutely buzzes and shimmers with all the insect activity in the late summer.

  • jakejones
    Original Author
    11 years ago

    Baldwin's Ironweed seems to be a larger flowered selection.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Baldwin's Ironweed

  • jakejones
    Original Author
    11 years ago

    Yet more on ironweed! Baldwin's seems acclimated to dry conditions, where the eastern likes some moisture.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Baldwin's Ironweed Part II

  • echinaceamaniac
    11 years ago

    The blooms seem to glow on these. They have the brightest color. I don't know of many plants with a bloom color like them. I notice them on the side of the road. I've always wondered why they aren't garden plants. Are people selling them?

  • ramazz
    11 years ago

    I have them growing in a brackish swamp which is somewhat shady. They grow wild and are at least 6 ft. tall. Prairie Moon Nursery has them listed for sale. You can also get seeds from people here on gardenweb, using the seed exchange.

    Becky

  • spazzycat_1
    11 years ago

    I grow Vernonia arkansana, which I received from a local arboretum. It has proved trouble-free and is not much different than the New York ironweed except is shorter (it tops out at about 5').

    This will be the first season for Vernonia lettermanii 'Iron Butterfly' in my garden so I can't yet report on its performance. It is a short, ferny, amsonia-looking plant with purple flowers in Fall. It's supposed to have an iron constitution like its larger relatives.

  • northerngirl_mi
    11 years ago

    For me, the stems are very sturdy - but in my perennial border it wasn't all that attractive... and I had foliage problems (can't remember much - think it was powdery mildew). Of course, as a seed-grown plant, I'm sure there is lots of variation. I saw another specimen in the area that stayed much shorter than mine, had more intense flower color...

  • hunt4carl
    11 years ago

    One of my favorite trouble-free plants, but choose it's companions wisely,
    as it can be rather coarse. . .my single HUGE specimen looks just fine with a
    Silphium perfoliatum, Joe-Pye Weed, a swamp sunflower and various goldenrods. . .

    Now, if you REALLY fall in love with this plant, Plant Delights Nursery sells
    something called 'Jonesboro Giant' (Vernonia altissima) which tops out at
    fourteen (14) feet !!!

    Carl

  • Thyme2dig NH Zone 5
    11 years ago

    I love vernonia for all the reasons everyone listed above. Spazzycat, I just planted an 'Iron butterfly' last fall and am very anxious to see how it performs this year! We'll have to report back in the fall!

  • Marie Tulin
    11 years ago

    quick hijack: what's an iron butterfly garden?

  • grandmachris
    11 years ago

    Vernonia is one of the main bloomers in a "pasture" we see
    out our back window. We mow once a year after the bloom
    is pretty well gone--late Aug.to Early Sept. The ground is]
    pretty damp and supports unidentified heliopsis, milkweed,
    orange and yellow jewelweed in the damper places and other
    stuff. Vernonia also comes around the edge of our half acre
    pond.

    In another field there is a lot of vernonia with not so much competition. My husband mows that field in early summer and it is just full of purple vernonia bloom on
    shrubbier plants about 4 ft tall in September. It's magical early in the morning in the slanted light.

    Occasional plants seed in my less wild beds. They get
    cut back to shorten, have the middle bloom deadheaded to
    increase and lengthen bloom time, or pulled up if they
    come in an inconvenient place.

    Carl, sounds like you have a garden after my own heart!!

    Grandma Chris

  • schoolhouse_gw
    11 years ago

    Grandma Chris, I have the same in the fields and roadsides near me; and one plant in my rock garden. How it got there, I'm not sure as I don't remember planting it. If I remember right, they have a long root and are difficult to dig. Mine comes up in the same spot every year and gets about 6' tall but only two or three stalks at the most. I've tried gathering seeds in the fall and scattering them around but so far have never seen any babies.

  • laceyvail 6A, WV
    11 years ago

    I have one huge Ironweed in front of a Viburnum dilataum 'Iroqois' (red berries) and 'Michael Dodge' (yellow berries). The latter two have bloomed for the first time, and should be in berry when the ironweed is in bloom. Of course, the shrubs are still small, but when they gain some size, the show should be terrific.

  • Thyme2dig NH Zone 5
    11 years ago

    Idabean, Iron Butterfly is just a different variety of ironweed. Vernonia lettermanii 'Iron Butterfly'. I only planted it last year so I'm really excited to see what it does this year.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Vernonia lettermanii

  • jakejones
    Original Author
    11 years ago

    I am seeing a plant growing by planted fields that fits the description of ironweed, here in Maryland. It's mid June now. I thought Vernonia bloomed Aug/Sept. What's blooming now is about 3 feet tall. Is it thistle? I might try to get a picture.

  • marymd7
    11 years ago

    Butterfly weed -- asclepias syriaca -- is in bloom in the ditches in southern Maryland right now. I haven't noticed any thistles in bloom. Way too early for vernonia.

  • christinmk z5b eastern WA
    11 years ago

    I have been considering buying an Ironweed for some time...

    I have a couple of questions to put to those who grow these. Is the plant a bushy grower, or more upright? Does the whole impression of the plant give an 'ariy' or 'sturdy' (like Joe-Pye-Weed) look?
    What is the foliage like? Is it medium or dark green? Are they matte or shiny? And is it tall now, in June?
    CMK

  • schoolhouse_gw
    11 years ago

    Here's a photo of mine taken yesterday, eventually it will be over 5' tall, this is the wild variety and grows upright with multiple stems; sturdy Joe-Pye-Weed look; foliage will remain the same but leaves get somewhat wider, medium green, matte.

    {{gwi:244327}}

  • christinmk z5b eastern WA
    11 years ago

    Thanks so much Christine! You have been extremly helpful!
    CMK