Friday, June 8, 2012

Nebraska Wildflowers Day 7 -- Asters

This is Nebraska wildflower week. Each day I'll feature a native wildflower that grows well for me in my fickle clay AND brings in butterflies. Hopefully, you'll find something you've never seen before.

To end the week, on Saturday, June 9 at 10am, I'll be giving a presentation on Nebraska wildflowers at Finke Gardens and Nursery. And don't forget, I do run a native prairie garden coaching business. Ahem.

Also, check out Bob Henrickson's (NE Statewide Arboretum) fantastic advice on planting a mini prairie in your landscape.


The last day is a two-fer. Because asters are some of the last plants that overwintering insects--and insects soon to lay over-wintering eggs--gorge on like I do with a box of Godiva. On both New England and smooth aster I've seen hundreds of butterflies, wasps, bees, beetles, flies, moths, and heavenly angels all at one time. Every day. For as long as they bloom, which is a good two weeks in late September into mid October--one time into November when the freezes were late.

'Purple Dome' New England, with white Boltonia and blue Aster 'October Skies'
Aster laevis, smooth aster, on the right
Bee on Aster laevis
A good thing to do is pinch these asters back in late spring and early summer every few days, especially cultivars of New England and the straight smooth aster species. More blooms is the goal. The New England aster species plant can get 3-5' tall and 1' wide (moist to medium clay in full sun), but cultivars are usually much shorter. Smooth aster is about 2x2' feet if you pinch, and you better, because Grandma always did when you came for a visit.

Thus concludes a sampling of insect-loving and somewhat unique native Nebraska wildflowers this last week. Below is a list of the other posts if you missed them. We now return you to our more mercurial blog posting times.

Day 1 -- Baptisia

Day 2 -- Wild Quinine

Day 3 -- Milkweed

Day 4 -- Liatris Ligulistylis

Day 5 -- Joe Pye Weed

Day 6 -- Blue Sage


UrsulaV said...

We had asters--I kid you not--into January down here last winter. (Well, for whatever value of "winter" that was.) They bloomed and bloomed and bloomed. They're what's giving me hope that if we run out of all the other wildflowers, I'll still have asters to feed the bugs.

Benjamin Vogt said...

January???? Global warming is playing havoc with gardening already in many ways.

Donna@Gardens Eye View said...

love asters and so do the monarchs in the fall...great series