Late summer and early autumn is go time for pollinators: give them a big boost with 'Iron Butterfly' vernonia (ver-NO-nee-uh). Also known as ironweed, this native perennial looks a bit like a New England aster at first glance, but each flower is an exuberant little puff of pink. The foliage is narrow, with a slightly spiky, willow-like look, and is more disease resistant than most asters, too. Butterflies love this plant, and thanks to its August-September bloom time, sustains them in that crucial period before they wind down for the season.
Plant size: 24"-36" tall and wide
Light: full sun (6+ hrs/day)
Hardiness: USDA zone 4-9 (Find your hardiness zone)
Pollinator value: attracts butterflies, especially swallowtails, monarchs, and painted ladies, as well as other pollinating insects
Notable features: native, compact, deer resistant, long-blooming, drought tolerant
Pot size: one quart
Plant name: Vernonia lettermannii 'Iron Butterfly'
Customer ReviewsWrite a review
I ordered three plants and all arrived in great condition. I'm growing this plant in a dry mountain climate (Colorado Front Range) and it erupts in the most beautiful shade of blue/purple in late summer when everything else is worn out. Be patient, give it time to acclimate, and you won't be disappointed. It has survived several winters with severe temperature drops, and comes back strong after dying back to the ground. It is a favorite of the Painted Ladies in my garden. I am a master gardener and will plant these three in our demo garden.