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MY FAVORITE NEW PLANT OF THE SUMMER

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I first saw Eupatorium capillifolium ‘Elegant Feather’ late last summer at a baby shower. I spotted it from inside the house and ran out at my first opportunity to give it a closer look. It looked to me like a soft, feathery evergreen and I had to seek out the landscaper who planted to gardens to find out what it was. I was shocked to find it out it’s a relative of Joe Pye Weed, which looks absolutely nothing like it.

The foliage is bright green with soft needlelike leaves that blow in the wind, indeed much like a feather.

I’m not the only gardener in this area who didn’t know about this great foliage plant, which is an annual in our area but can be perennial in my warmer zones, where it can get invasive. I had a horrible time finding and ended up asking that same landscaper for his source.

I got five in gallon containers and they were all about 18 inches tall when I picked them up in June. Two of them went in containers and the other three were planted in a sort of awkward spot along the house by the back door.

And I’ve been shocked at how well they’ve done. I’d say they are all about 7 feet tall now and showing no signs of being tired. The two in containers need a lot of water these days and they are quick to let me know because the tips flop quickly when they are thirsty.

The dahlias in this container are in need of some additional support, but you can see how tall ‘Elegant Feather’ has grown.
Here’s a shot of the same container just two months ago.

I’m particularly happy with how it’s done in the large container by the door, which is can be challenging to find something tall enough to bridge the gap to the door which is on top of four steps.

Other plants have never really looked quite right in this odd spot, blocked partly by the tomato container, but three ‘Elegant Feather’ Eupatoriums fill the gap nicely.

It has also been a great filler in that funny area by the back door. There is a skinny bed alongside the house that borders the patio, which I’ve enjoyed planting mostly with annuals the past two years. But this bed is divided by the rather odd placement of our cellar door. On the side by the back door stairs, there is only about 7 feet of bed there, much of which is difficult to access because I put the tomato planter in front of it. By planting three ‘Elegant Feather’ plants there, I think it softens the background and makes that area less awkward. The only problem is that the plants have gotten so tall I have to be careful when I close the windows there to not trap them.

I’ve been so happy with how they’ve grown that I’ve been thinking about other applications. They would make a great temporary screen for a seating area. They are also a great way to add some height and I think they would be another plant to repeat in a long border.

Mine are all growing in full to part sun, but the ones I saw last year were in a pretty shady situation. They weren’t as tall but they were still beautiful, so I wouldn’t hesitate to plant this in a variety of conditions.

I think I paid $6 or $7 per plant. I’d say I certainly got my money’s worth. Yes, Eupatorium ‘Elegant Feather’ will have a spot in my garden for many years to come.

12 Responses

  1. I also was pleasantly surprised at how quickly this plant grew! I worry that where I live in northern Wisconsin, that it won’t survive the cold and deep snow. Should I cut it back in the fall instead of spring? It’s over 6 feet now and I know the snow will “crush” it!

  2. Hi Erin,
    I bought this plant last summer for the first time and it went all brown in winter, do you cut it down in spring? It grew so quickly last year and I’m afraid it won’t come back if I cut it.
    What do you think?
    Greeting from Berlin!

    1. this plant was an incredible discovery, I bought 2 last summer for my deck. They grew about 14′ tall. I left them out over the winter and the stalks are still standing. Will they regrow? Should I cut down the stalks now 4/5, repot? or is it only a seasonal plant?

  3. This plant is unlike any I've seen. Thanks for sharing. I wonder if they could be overwintered in a basement or garage. I'm only thinking of that given they were hard to find.

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