Yellow Jewelweed is a native Annual wildflower that can grows in moist areas with good organic soil, and can form large colonies. It has the potential to grow slightly larger (up to 6′ / 2 m) than it’s more common orange cousin, Orange Jewelweed. You can often find both Orange and Yellow Jewelweed in the same general area, or at least close by. They grow well along the border of wooded areas, near streams or other bodies of water, and in wetlands/flood plains. Although Yellow Jewelweed is more adaptable to drier conditions.
Excellent at attracting hummingbirds and bumblebees, Yellow Jewelweed can make a great addition to a woodland garden, rain garden, or wild area.
Yellow Jewelweed Facts
It loves moist areas, even wet. Will grow well along streams/rivers/ponds. And can survive short floods less than 2 weeks.
A prolific self-seeder, Yellow Jewelweed will form colonies in the right conditions.
All parts of Yellow Jewelweed are toxic, so don’t ingest it.
Historically, Jewelweed has been used to treat skin irritations from nettles, bug bites, and poisons Ivy. Although research has shown no benefits for poison ivy rash.
Quick Reference Table
Physical Description of Yellow Jewelweed
Growing upwards of 6′ tall, you will most often find many Yellow Jewelweed plants at a single site. This is because it has the ability to self-seed prolifically, just like Orange Jewelweed. But, the overall size, leaf, and flowering characteristics will be effected by conditions, and competition/crowding.
Stalk / Stem
The stalk/stems of Yellow Jewel Weed are semi-translucent and full of sap, almost succulent. Light green in color, the stems are smooth and hairless. The stems are easily crushed or broken, which make rubbing the sap on a stinging nettle or poison ivy rash easy.
Yellow Jewelweed leaves will be alternate along the stalk, and roughly 2″ (5 cm) wide by 4″ (10 cm) long. The leaves will have a oval/oviate shape, veined, and have large toothed serrated margins/edges.
Generally single, but sometimes up to several flowers will be attached to 2″ long stems coming from the base of the leaves. The flowers sort of hang upside down on the plant, which is fairly unique. Flowers are approximately 1″ (2.5 cm) long and cone shaped, with a curl or spur at the tip of the cone. I describe the flowers as having an overall bugle or trumpet shape. There will be 5 petals on the flowers, two overhanging the opening, two spread out on the lower half on each side, and a 5th petal on the bottom. Yellow Jewelweed will bloom for approximately 3 months, lasting most of the summer until frost sets in. So the bloom time is roughly June-September depending on your location.
In the curl/spur of the flower is where the nectar is stored. Because of this only long tongue bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds can reach the nectar.
After blooming, a seed pod will form at the flower. This capsule will grow, be filled with water, then as it dries tension will build. Then, when disturbed or ‘touched’, the capsule will explode flinging seed up to 4-5′ away from the plant. This seed dispersal mechanism allows Yellow Jewelweed to colonize disturbed areas quite well.
Yellow Jewelweed has a shallow taproot that branches out a bit.
Growing Conditions for Yellow Jewelweed
Yellow Jewelweed will grow best in part sun and moist conditions, in soil that is rich in organic matter. However, I have seen it grow in full sun too, and full shade. In fact the largest stand I have observed is on my way home from work, which is on a North facing side of a dense forest – so minimal sun.
How to care for Yellow Jewelweed
As it is a native plant, if Yellow Jewelweed is planted in the proper location it won’t require any special care.
If you are trying to keep an area neat and tidy, either cut off the seedpods before they explode, or be prepare to pull unwanted seedlings. But, Yellow Jewelweed can do good at suppressing weeds in an area to provide a more uniform (but wild) look.
How to Establish Yellow Jewelweed
You will not find this plant sold at garden centers. You need to grow the plant from seed yourself, or obtain seedlings from an area that already grows this plant (with permission from the owner).
Growing Yellow Jewelweed from seed
The most effective method of growing Yellow Jewelweed from seed is to scatter fresh seed in the fall, via direct sowing. This process is basically the same as Yellow Jewelweeds cousin, Spotted Touch-Me-Not.
Collect seedpods in September/October, frequently checking established plants for when the seed pods are starting to become ripe/dry.
Grasp a pod completely in your hand, as it may explode upon disturbance. And completely putting your hand over it can capture the seed.
Place seed into a bag or container, and sow as soon as possible. Do not let the seed dry out, as the seed viability will drop substantially.
Alternatively you can begin stratifying the seed. Yellow Jewelweed likely benefits from two cold treatments, with a single warm treatment in between. After these three treatments have been completed, you may sow the seed in pots with moist soil. Keep the soil moist until germination.
Garden Uses for Yellow Jewelweed
Because of its propensity for self-seeding, Yellow Jewelweed does not belong in a well manicured garden. However, it can do well in any wild area with moist soil. Another great use for Jewelweed is as a weed suppressor. Since it grows so fast and tall, it can serve as a replacement for non-native invasive plants, as it can out-compete many invasive species such as Garlic Mustard.
Deer will browse foliage of Yellow Jewelweed. The flowers attract Hummingbirds, Butterflies, and long-tongue bees (like bumble bees). Also, many types of birds and some mammals eat the seeds.
Pests and Diseases
Deer browse foliage, and can kill plants via over grazing. Additionally, some pathogens can attack young plants causing stalk rot. It also appears that Powdery Mildew can grow on the leaves.
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Hi - I grew up outdoors in nature - hiking, fishing, hunting. In high school I got my first job at a garden center where I learned to garden and landscape. I've been growing plants from seed and designing native plant gardens for over six years. I hope to share some of my knowledge with you!
Additionally I am a wood worker / DIY enthusiast. I enjoy designing/building projects (with hand tools when I can!). I hope to give you some tips and useful information!