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Perennial Ironweed, Vernonia, for the Garden

Add some late summer color to your landscape by planting a few of our North American native ironweeds.

The sturdy stems of this large perennial allow it to stand upright through the winter, inspiring its common name. The airy purple-blue flowers attract a variety of pollinators including several varieties of butterflies, native bees and honeybees. Fortunately, the bitter foliage discourages rabbits and deer from eating this plant.

There is at least one Ironweed species native in each of the lower 48 United States. Visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website to find out more about the ironweeds native to your region.

Plant these bodacious beauties in full sun with enough space to reach full size. You can reduce taller species size significantly by pruning them back halfway in spring.

A bit more information: Consider one of the smaller species or varieties if your landscape can’t handle a large specimen.  Richard Hawke, plant evaluation manager at the Chicago Botanic Garden, recently completed a multi-year study of several ironweed varieties.  Read his report for more in-depth information on this plant.

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