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Audubon® Prairie Ironweed
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A must for moist meadows and a delight in informal borders, too! Prairie Ironweed, a.k.a. Smooth Ironweed, will bring rosy-purple flowers to your landscape in late summer, and along with them, gorgeous butterflies. Some of our most cherished species, like monarchs, painted ladies, giant swallowtails, black swallowtails, and tiger swallowtails adore Ironweed’s blossoms. In fall, the flowers become fluffy, buff-colored seedheads, and goldfinches, House Finches, and Song Sparrows will arrive to pick at the seeds. Plant a patch near your patio or picture window, so you can enjoy the blossoms and the great wildlife-watching each year.
May Benefit & Attract: Finches & Sparrows.
Take Birds Under Your Wing
New! Introducing our bird-friendly collection of Audubon® Native Plants & Trees
- Better for Birds, 100% Neonic-Free
- Not Available in non-native regions, states or counties (see Native Regions map)
Bower & Branch is proud to grow Audubon® Native Plants for Birds in partnership with the National Audubon Society to help birds and other wildlife thrive.
- The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow
- This bird-friendly native plant provides food and shelter for local and migrating birds and other wildlife
- Your purchase and planting of this native flora directly supports Audubon’s conservation mission and impact
- Learn how you can help birds in your home and community through Audubon’s Plants for Birds program
- Audubon Native Plants & Trees are free of neonicotinoids and exclusively grown by Bower & Branch
Audubon® is a licensed and registered trademark of the National Audubon Society. All rights reserved.
- Hardiness Zone: 4-9
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Often growing in concert with Goldenrod, the purple buttons of Prairie Ironweed, along with the yellow plumes of Goldenrod, paint a classic picture of warm, late-summer days over much of the nation’s midsection. Butterflies flit lazily from flower to flower. Other insects rely on Ironweed, too. Many native bees relish the nectar and pollen they offer, including one species of long-horned bee that uses only Ironweed pollen to feed its young. Quite a few caterpillars are reared on this plant’s foliage as well, including those of the variegated fritillary and the American painted lady butterfly.
One particularly striking insect that Prairie Ironweed attracts is the parthenice tiger moth. You can recognize it by its black and buff upper wings, which are decorated with a crackle pattern, and its contrasting lower wings, which are painted a warm crimson-orange color. Ironweed is the preferred food for its young.
How to Grow
Prairie Ironweed is an undemanding Spirit that does best in full sun or very light shade. It prefers soils that are on the moist to wet side. Water weekly during dry spells and mulch the rootzone to conserve moisture. Ironweed’s wiry stems are self-supporting and should not need staking. Leave the seedheads up through the winter for the birds to enjoy, cutting them down in early spring to make way for fresh new growth. Plants may reseed in the garden, but not so much that they become a problem. Deer tend to leave Ironweed alone.
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