Name: Vernonia lettermanii ‘Iron Butterfly’ aka ironweed
Type of Plant: A drought tolerant perennial for Zones 4-9, with grass-like foliage all summer and purple flowers in late fall.
Why I Love/Hate this plant: When my gardens are open for fundraisers in the summer, many visitors ask about this plant even though it’s not in flower. The fine, bright green foliage and compact growth attract the eye and contrast well with other, broad-leafed plants. So yes, this is a plant to love because the form and foliage looks great all summer. In the fall, when the purple flowers open it’s even more attractive and the bees clearly agree.
Vernonia lettermanii ‘Iron Butterfly’ grows well in sandy soils, and it thrives in full to part sun.
A Word to the Wise: Don’t grow this ironweed in rich soil or in locations where the irritation is hitting it frequently.