Symphyotrichum novae-angliae, New England Aster

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

Asters rank second, after goldenrod, in supporting Lepidoptera (112 butterfly and moth species) according to Doug Tallamy’s Bringing Nature Home. This video, filmed at Alexandria’s Simpson Gardens in early October, shows monarch butterflies foraging on asters, including native Symphyotrichum novae-angliae. Asters attract a variety of pollinators unlike non-native chrysanthemums, which are frequently planted for autumn color. So add native asters to your garden. Pollinators, like monarchs who need to fuel up on nectar for their long trip to Mexico, will thank you with their presence.
– video by Mary Free, Certified Master Gardener

Butterflies are attracted to these purple, daisy-like asters that bloom profusely from late summer to early fall.  They are native to moist meadows, prairies, and open woods throughout much of North America.  In cultivation they are frequently used in wild gardens and tallgrass prairie restorations.

Print Version: Symphyotrichum novae-angliae, New England Aster

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae, New England Aster Perennial: Height: 1–6 feet (‘Purple Dome’ 11⁄2–2 feet); Spread: 2–3 feet; Bloom Color: Purple, pink-purple, lavender, blue. Characteristics: Clumping, stout, leafy perennial with a robust upright habit; Rough, hairy, lance-shaped, clasping leaves; Showy purple rayed flowers with yellow centers bloom on branch tips from August to October; Stiff hairy stems. Attributes: Tolerates clay soil, drier soil, and seasonal floods; no serious pests or diseases; deer seldom to occasionally severely damage; Ethnobotanic uses; Attracts bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects; larval host for Pearl Crescent butterfly. Growing and Maintenance Tips: Soil Requirements: Average, well-drained; Light Requirements: Sun, Partial Shade; Water Requirements: Moist; Pinch back to reduce height in June and July to produce more flowers and reduce need for staking; Good air circulation reduces foliar problems; Prune to ground after flowering if foliage is unattractive and to prevent seeding; Use in borders, butterfly, meadow or rain gardens; Hardiness: USDA Zones 4–8. Excellent Replacement for Centaurea cyanus - Bachelor’s Button (annual, Chrysanthemum - Mums (marginally hardy, Dahlia, Dendranthema - Hardy Garden Mums It is native in DC; common throughout DE; and scattered through- out PA. In VA, it is infrequent to locally common in the mountains; infrequent in the Piedmont and rare in the Coastal Plain. Flowers provide important late season nectar for pollinators.

Learn more about other Mid-Atlantic plants: Tried and True Plant Fact Sheets