Ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis)
A native plant, Ironweed’s natural habitat is moist thickets, marshes, and meadows, but it adapts well and benefits garden landscapes. Ironweed is easy to grow. It tolerates many soils but prefers 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 spread 3 to 4 feet. If preferred, you can cut the stems 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 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.