Wild Asters of Autumn - A Pollinator's Delight
Native Asters for the Southern Landscape
As the days begin to grow shorter in late August and September, another of our favorite native flowering perennials, the Asters, begin putting on a show. A variety of colorful and hardy Asters are native to Louisiana and the Gulf Coastal region. We grow many varieties in our garden, including: the white flowered, Fall Aster (Aster ericoides), the tall bluish-purple flowers of Aster praealtus and the beautiful lavender Savanna Aster (Symphyotrichum chapmanii).
All are very easy to grow and will come back year after year. Members of the Aster family also attract pollinators, including several species of butterflies, honeybees and native bees. The seed heads are very attractive and add a bit of interest to the winter landscape.
Most of the wildflower photos on this page were taken by the author in her 9-acre backyard habitat.
Have you tried incorporating wildflowers into your landscape?
Fall Aster - Aster ericoides
These many branched plants grow 24 to 30 inches tall and some will stand erect and some will recline. The white flowers are small (only 1/2 inch wide) but occur in large clusters that will cover the plant. They occur throughout Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi from September into November.
A wonderful book of wildflowers of the Gulf Coast region that is great for the beginner. The flowers are arranged by color and both the photographs and descriptions are excellent. It's one of my favorites.
Wild Purple Aster
Blue to Purple Aster praealtus (also called Willow-leaf)
Aster praealtus is a tall (up to 8 feet), beautiful bluish lavender perennial that grows in large colonies. The individual flowers are larger than those of the fall aster and the profusion of blooms on the 6 to 8 ft. plants is a sight to behold.
The plants will grow in almost any soil type and can be found in Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi from September to frost.
Monarch Butterfly on Wild Asters
Honeybees and many types of native bees visit a single wild aster blossom to gather nectar and pollen.
Savanna Aster - Symphyotrichum chapmanii
The lovely Savanna Aster is a perennial herb that grows 1-3 feet tall in erect to arching stems which are divided into several slender branches. Each branch ends with a single blue to purple 1 1/2 inch flower having up to 21 rays on a brownish central head. The basal leaves are about 12 inches long and narrow. They bloom from August through November in flatwoods, bogs and savannas.
Honeybee on Aster
Wild Asters Attract and Feed Pollinators
Besides being beautiful additions to the fall garden, native Asters attract pollinators which are so important for our fruit orchards and vegetable gardens. With the recent decline in pollinators, this reason alone is enough to encourage their use in the landscape.
If you are using organic pest control, Asters and other small composite flowers, will help here, too. Several "assassin" insects and wasps visit these flowers and will help you by eating some of the insect pests in your garden.
Bumblebee in Aster
Wild Aster Seedheads
Growing Wild Asters
- Seed heads of Asters are attractive in the winter landscape and are eaten by small songbirds.
- Asters grow well in sun to part shade in acid soil. Aster praealtus can be pruned until June 1 to form a bushy shape. Aster ericoides can take more shade and moist conditions.
- Propagate by root division or seed. The seeds will self sow or you can sprinkle them around where you'd like them to grow.
Canon Powershot SX50 HS Camera
We used Canon Powershot (S3 and S5) cameras to take most of the photographs on this page. These are great little cameras with many excellent features. We especially like the macro and super macro settings for closeups and the 12X to 48X zoom.
Now we have upgraded to the SX50 HS and we love, love love it. It takes great close ups and zooms in well, too. They are also reasonably priced.
Other Louisiana Wildflower Pages
- October Blooming Native Sunflowers
Just in time for Halloween, October brings bright yellow wild sunflowers that paint the native landscape in the bold colors of fall. Many species of this large group of native plants grow prolifically in the wild and several types are suitable for...
- Indian Pink, Perennial Wildflower
Beautiful native Indian pink deserves a place in any garden. It attracts hummingbirds and other pollinators and is a joy to behold.
© 2009 Yvonne L B