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Vernonia arkansana (Arkansas Ironweed)

Arkansas Ironweed, Vernonia crinita

Vernonia crinita, Arkansas Ironweed, Vernonia crinita

Vernonia arkansana, commonly known as the Arkansas Ironweed, is a robust and striking perennial native to North America’s tallgrass prairies. Known for its resilience and stately presence, it is a plant that has both ecological and ornamental value.

Vernonia arkansana: An In-depth Look

Vernonia arkansana is distinguished by its tall, erect stature and dense clusters of small, deep purple flowers. The flowers are tightly packed in fluffy, roundish heads that give a soft, yet vibrant appearance to the plant’s overall structure.

Native: This species is indigenous to the central and southeastern United States, where it thrives in prairies, open woodlands, and along streambanks, contributing to the region’s biodiversity.

Plant Type and Habit: As a herbaceous perennial, Arkansas Ironweed forms clumps of stiff, upright stems that can become quite bushy. Its growth habit makes it a dominant presence in any garden or natural setting.

Size: Mature plants can reach heights of 3 to 5 feet (90-150 cm) with a spread of 3 to 4 feet (90-120 cm). Its size makes it a candidate for back borders or as a structural element in naturalized areas.

Flowers: Arkansas ironweed presents a striking late-season display with dense clusters of tiny, rich purple flowers that bloom atop stiff, upright stems. Its robust blooms add a bold splash of color to naturalistic landscapes and meadows.

Bloom Time: Flowering typically happens from late summer into fall, though this can vary based on regional climate conditions. The plant produces achenes, which are small, dry, one-seeded fruits that do not open at maturity, with tufts of hair that aid in wind dispersion.

Foliage: The leaves are narrow, lance-shaped, with a rough texture, adding to the plant’s rugged charm. They are a glaucous color that contrasts beautifully with the purple flowers

Uses: Its height and late blooming make it an excellent backdrop in perennial borders. It is also used in naturalized plantings, rain gardens, and to provide structure and winter interest.

Hardiness: Arkansas Ironweed is remarkably hardy and is suitable for USDA zones 5 through 8, tolerating a wide range of climatic conditions.

Pollinators: The flowers attract various pollinators, especially bees, and butterflies, while birds will feed on the seeds during fall and winter.

Toxicity: It is not known to be toxic and is considered safe for planting in areas frequented by pets and children.

Deer and Rabbit: Ironweed is generally resistant to deer and rabbits due to its bitter taste, which makes it an excellent choice for areas where these animals are prevalent.

Invasiveness: While it self-seeds, it is not considered invasive and tends to stay in controlled clumps without spreading aggressively.

Ironweed Growing Tips

Light: Full sun to partial shade; thrives with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily.

Soil: Prefers light, moderately fertile soil.

Water: Regular watering needed, especially in dry periods; can tolerate occasional wetness.

Fertilizer: Generally not required; if growth is poor, a light application of a balanced fertilizer in spring can help.

Pruning: Cut back in late winter to early spring to promote vigorous growth; deadhead to prevent self-seeding if not desired.

Propagation: Propagate by seed or by division.

Pests/Diseases: Rarely bothered by pests or diseases; watch for rust or powdery mildew in humid conditions.

Requirements

Hardiness 5 - 8
Plant Type Perennials
Plant Family Compositae
Genus Vernonia
Common names Ironweed
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Late)
Fall
Height 3' - 5'
(90cm - 150cm)
Spread 3' - 4'
(90cm - 120cm)
Spacing 36" - 48"
(90cm - 120cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average, High
Soil Type Loam, Sand, Chalk
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Poorly Drained
Characteristics Showy
Native Plants United States, Northeast, New York, Ohio, Wisconsin, Midwest, Missouri, Kansas, Indiana, Illinois, Southeast, Arkansas, Southwest, Oklahoma
Tolerance Deer, Wet Soil
Attracts Bees, Butterflies, Birds
Garden Uses Beds And Borders, Rain Gardens
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow
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Alternative Plants to Consider

Vernonia ‘Summer’s Swan Song’ (Ironweed)
Vernonia lettermannii ‘Iron Butterfly’ (Narrowleaf Ironweed)
Vernonia angustifolia (Tall Ironweed)
Vernonia baldwinii (Western Ironweed)
Vernonia fasciculata (Prairie Ironweed)
Vernonia missurica (Missouri Ironweed)

Recommended Companion Plants

Calamagrostis canadensis (Bluejoint Grass)
Eutrochium purpureum (Sweet-Scented Joe-Pye Weed)
Verbena hastata (American Blue Vervain)
Eupatorium perfoliatum (Common Boneset)
Spartina alterniflora (Smooth Cordgrass)
Veronicastrum virginicum (Culver’s Root)

Find In One of Our Guides or Gardens

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While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.
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Requirements

Hardiness 5 - 8
Plant Type Perennials
Plant Family Compositae
Genus Vernonia
Common names Ironweed
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Late)
Fall
Height 3' - 5'
(90cm - 150cm)
Spread 3' - 4'
(90cm - 120cm)
Spacing 36" - 48"
(90cm - 120cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average, High
Soil Type Loam, Sand, Chalk
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Poorly Drained
Characteristics Showy
Native Plants United States, Northeast, New York, Ohio, Wisconsin, Midwest, Missouri, Kansas, Indiana, Illinois, Southeast, Arkansas, Southwest, Oklahoma
Tolerance Deer, Wet Soil
Attracts Bees, Butterflies, Birds
Garden Uses Beds And Borders, Rain Gardens
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow
How Many Plants
Do I Need?
Guides with
Vernonia (Ironweed)
Not sure which Vernonia (Ironweed) to pick?
Compare Now

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