Ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis)
A native plant, Ironweed’s natural habitat is moist thickets, marshes and meadows, but it adapts well and is beneficial to garden landscapes. Ironweed is easily grown. It tolerates a wide range of soils, but prefers a rich moist slightly acidic soil and full sun to light shade.
This low maintenance plant works well in the rear of perennial gardens since its height can reach 3 to 7 feet and can spread 3 to 4 feet. If preferred, the stems may be cut back in late spring to reduce the overall height.
The most attractive feature of Ironweed is the cluster of showy deep purple flowers. The intense color which graces the top of multiple leafy stems blooms from late summer through early fall. After blooming, the flowers fade to a rusty tinged color and rusty seed clusters form. Removing the seed heads before seeds develop is necessary to avoid unwanted seedlings.
The rusty color and the plant’s tough erect stem is the reason for the Ironweed’s name.