Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic
Print Version (Legal Size): Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England Aster)
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
Daisy-like asters bloom profusely late summer to early fall. Native to more northern parts of the Mid-Atlantic Region* and mountains of Virginia, in NoVA they may have spread from cultivation where they are often used in wild gardens and roadside plantings. For smaller gardens, the dwarf cultivar ‘Purple Dome’ has a low, bushy habit that does not require staking and produces abundant bright, royal purple flowers.
*It is native in DC; common throughout DE; and scattered throughout PA. In VA, it is infrequent to locally common in the mountains; infrequent in the Piedmont and rare in the Coastal Plain
Learn more about other Mid-Atlantic plants: Tried and True Plant Fact Sheets