Native Spotlight: New York Ironweed

Guest Blog by Rachel Shaw 
The tallest non-woody plant in my yard right now is New York Ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis). These plants are a little outsized for my small yard, but I love their late summer color, and the bees love them too.

At one point I had almost decided they were unsuitable in my little landscape. But instead of taking them out, I adopted a strategy of whacking them back several times during the growing season. This seems to keep them in check, that is, closer to six feet rather than eight feet, without any effect on profuse blooming.

Still, by this time of year they begin to be top-heavy, and I start cutting off some of the stems, especially those going to seed, to lighten the load. This is a plant that wants full sun; those grown in slightly shadier conditions will be more prone to flopping, especially after heavy rain.

The Missouri Botanical Garden recommends cutting New York Ironweed back nearly to the ground in late spring to control height. I will try that strategy next year, and also be a little more vigilant about removing unwanted seedlings. These plants do have a tendency to spread themselves around! 

But these graceful giants are such a lovely feature at this time of year, I can’t believe I ever considered removing them from my landscape.

What native plants are blooming in your yard or nearby?

About the Author
Rachel Shaw focuses on vegetable gardening and growing native plants in her small yard in Rockville, Maryland. She blogs at


Popular Posts