Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.

Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.
The purpose of this blog is to provide information on using native plants in the landscape, issues related to invasive exotic plants, urban wildlife management, and wildlife damage management. It is my intention that this information will assist you in deciphering the multitude of information circulating around the web and condense in some meaningful method as it relates to Kentucky. In addition, I hope to highlight a native plant that can be used in the landscape.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Plant of the Week: New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)

If you want a show of color in early fall, and I really mean a show, then this aster is the one for you. It can reach up to 4' tall but I always clipped mine back in June and it never got above about 3' tall and talk about clusters of flowers!!!!!   Wow, what a show this plant puts on.  Individual flower clusters vary from pure white ray flowers with yellow centers to pink to blue to purple and red. It is also one of the great late season butterfly attracting plants.  Each composite flower is about an inch and half wide with up to 30 rays flowers.  If you cut the plant back, on the top of each plant the clusters of individual composite flowers can be more than a dozen.  One of the great things about this aster is it is quite easy to grow, doesn't really have much of a habitat preference (of course rich, mesic is best in the full sun - but it is adaptable) and it can be aggressive which means you need to be able to identify the small seedlings in the spring with their alternate leaves up to 4" long and 1" wide that are whitish colored (small hairs).  This species will also spread horizontally via rhizomes and every few years it will need to be divided. It also has a tendency to drop leaves during drought and will become leggy, thus in many cases you will need to stake it up. The primary pollinators are bees, skippers, and butterflies and it will be browsed by deer, turkey, rabbits, etc. but it is generally not a species they like to eat.  When the leaves are crushed they have a vague turpentine like smell.  Because this is such a showy plant and easy to propagate, more than 50 named cultivars exist all over the world and one of the most popular is 'purple dome' which is a dwarf form.  Whatever the reason, this should be a mainstay in the wild garden along with the various yellows of goldenrod.  That is a true fall garden.

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree more. Asters not only make a true fall garden, but they make fall.