Asters for Butterflies
New England Asters are a late season favorite in my butterfly garden. In late summer and fall, they are covered with Painted Lady Butterflies (above). Monarchs and other butterflies also enjoy this butterfly nectar plant.
Facts about Aster novae angliae:
- Height 3-6 feet
- Width 2-3 feet
- Bloom time is August – frost
- Light requirements – Full Sun or Part Shade
- Prefers moist, rich soil, but does fine in my average garden soil
- Problems: nothing serious – has some susceptibility to powdery mildew or wilt
- Native to Eastern North America and the mountains of Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. It is naturalized elsewhere and has been introduced in Europe
New England Aster is a large, upright plant (above left and back right). It has dense, dark green foliage…stems are full of leaves.
When in bloom, this plant is loaded with purple-blue daisy-like blooms with yellow centers. The color almost seems fluorescent to me.
If the plant is large, sometimes I tie it with twine about half way up when it is in bloom, because the weight of the numerous blooms sometimes make the branches droop.
Another option would be to pinch back the stems once or twice before the buds are formed to keep the plant shorter and more full.
Cut back these plants to the ground in late Fall or early Spring.
Divide the plant every several years to keep it vigorous. I have had new plants “pop up” in my garden from time to time....probably from self seeding when I’ve waited to cut them back until Spring.
If you'd like to try this favorite butterfly flower in your garden, below are seeds available for purchase.....
I like the tall, natural look of this native plant(right)....it adds structure and height to my garden.
If you would like a neater look, there are many cultivars available.
One excellent cultivar is Purple Dome. It is compact.....height and width of about 18”....easy to grow and not bothered by mildew.
The color varieties of different cultivars include purple, lavender, pink, blue and white.
These great nectar plants are also the host plant (caterpillar food) for the Pearl Crescent Butterfly, a small orange and brown butterfly found from Mexico Northward over the Eastern two-thirds of the U.S. and into the Southern Canada Plains.