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Giant Ironweed for Pollinators

I am developing a new area of my garden. It is a large wild space previously given over to ugly weeds that Lou occasionally hit with a weed wacker. It is not close to a water source, and the plants in this area are going to be tough, primarily native plants. I began to plant last week. (Yes, it's August! I know I am crazy - hardly the best time to plant, but when the mood strikes...you know how it is.) The first plant I put in was Veronia gigantea. It quickly responded to its new home by opening its buds. The butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators have already found it.

Veronia gigantea - or Giant Ironweed - is appropriately named. This native  perennial will grow up to 9 feet tall, and it holds its abundant, vivid purple blooms from mid summer to fall on rigid stems that never slouch. This plant is in the same family with asters, and it is easy to see the resemblence.

Giant Ironweed will grow in US hardiness zones 5 - 8, and its ideal region is the Southeast. It is a versatile perennial, growing in dry to moist soils in grasslands and prairies, woodlands and along roadsides. Give it full sun to partial shade and plenty of room, as it will multiply. Farmers often consider it a bad weed, but there is a place for it.

It is an excellent nectar plant. If you have room in your garden for this vibrant plant, hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies will appreciate it. 

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Reader Comments (10)

How exciting to have a new space to play around with. That Veronica looks superb. It also looks at home in your garden, don't know if it would be so happy round here.

August 5, 2018 | Unregistered Commentercatmint

You must strike when the iron is hot. I hope your plants all survive.
I am also incorporating quite a few natives into the garden. They work well with our, what it seems to becoming, hotter zone. UGH...

August 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterLisa at Greenbow

Isn't it funny how we gardeners feel compelled to plant even when conditions aren't optimal?! I succumb ALL THE TIME, although now I try to channel my garden activities into projects that have some theoretical chance of success, like planting succulent containers. However, come September, I'll decide that fall is here (because the calendar says so) and start planting even through it'd be much more prudent to hold off until early November when cooler temperatures become more common. Don't wear yourself out!

August 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKris P

I guess we are lucky, our moderate climate means we can plant at any time of the year, moderate can stand for miserable. However, this Summer has been remarkable. Starting a new project like this is exciting, I hope I can see how it is looking in the next couple of years. Veronia gigantea, what a fantastic monster of a plant, I can see that it is related to the Aster.

August 6, 2018 | Unregistered Commenteraberdeen gardening

Ugly weeds and not close to a water source... that sounds like a big challenge. You are very brave Deb.

August 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDenise

Yes, every time I see Ironweed, it's covered in pollinators. Good luck with your project--it's always fun to play with plants, no matter what the circumstances. :)

August 6, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBeth @ PlantPostings

Sounds like a good spot for a native plant garden. I hope the Ironweed does well for you.

August 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJason

I have a love of gigantically tall plants in the garden. I really try to tone it down a bit, as I have quite a few plants in my garden that are as tall or even taller than the trees that I have planted, so it may look a little on the odd side. This sounds like a great one!

August 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterIndie

Am always looking for pollinator plants. Alas, this one is not in my Zone.

August 13, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

So glad to have found your blog. Since we are in the same are you are teaching me more about what plants I can put in my gardens. I have really worked hard to develop my skills over the last 10 years and are delighted with the results. However outside expert input is always a good to have. Keep the info coming and good luck with your new area.

August 17, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterahd

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