How to Grow and Care for Ironweed (Vernonia) Vernonia spp.
A true titan among wildflowers, the often imposing, hardy, and reliable ironweeds are typically tall, easy to grow, and an absolute favorite among pollinators.
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Capable of flourishing in some truly tough spots, these flowers take care of themselves and put on a wonderful display when the garden’s riot of summer color is waning.
Read on to find out more about growing this late summer show-stopper.
Here’s what I’ll cover:What Is Ironweed?
A member of one of the largest flowering plant families on earth, Asteraceae, ironweed belongs to the genus Vernonia, named for the English botanist William Vernon.
Although the exact number of species is debatable, the genus is widely distributed around the globe and appreciated in horticulture for the fortitude that gave the plants their common name.
This large group of perennials occupies a variety of habitats including open woodlands, to montane cloud forests, to roadside ditches, wet riparian areas, and old fields.
There is a lot of diversity within the genus, but all species produce bright purple to pink flowers composed of what are known as disk flowers.
Disk flowers are small, tubular, fertile flowers tightly packed together to form what’s known as an inflorescence. In ironweed, this aggregation of disk flowers look like beautiful, purple pom-poms that emerge in summer to early fall.
Ironweed leaves are typically toothed and are arranged alternately on the stem. Many species have a potent mixture of unpalatable chemicals that render them resistant to nibbling from deer, rabbits, and other herbivores!
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