What is Fireweed?

I took a trip to Alaska and while there I bought the postcard series of Alaskan seeds. When I got home, I read the planting instructions about one of the seeds, fireweed, and the notation on the packet said not to open packets in the National Parks. I’m wondering if the seeds will spread like dandelions and go over to our neighbors’ lawns.

Fireweed, or epilobium, is often described as a vigorous grower. The plant propagates by wind borne seeds that can travel long distances and spreading rhizomes, which is how it gets its reputation as being aggressive. It depends on the species as to whether fireweed is just a garden thug or an invasive threat.

Epilobium angustifolium is listed as being garden worthy, while Epilobium hirsutum is considered an invasive weed. However, it is a popular plant with hummingbirds, so if you have an area where it can do its thing, fireweed can be a nice addition to your garden. On the other hand if you live in close proximity to your neighbors, the seeds should probably be kept in their package as a souvenir.

Fireweed is often the first plant to appear after a forest fire, hence the name. It thrives in full sun and will tolerate a variety of soil conditions.

Fireweed is a North American native and you can grow it in zones 2 through 9. The plant can reach a mature height of up to 8’and blooms from July to September.