Friday, November 07, 2014

Aromatic Asters - Summer's Last Blast

I love many, many plants, but if pressed to name my favorite, I think it would be aromatic aster, Symphyotrichum oblongifolium.  Since these are the last perennials to start blooming every year, these plants look like nothing more than small green shrubs for much of the summer.  Additionally, in my garden they tend to suffer from lace bug damage, so their leaves often look light green and somewhat mottled when the summer gets hot and dry.  I grit my teeth and ignore it.  It won't hurt the plants and I'm darned if I'm going to spray.  Sometimes I start questioning how many I have in my gardens, but...

...then they burst into bloom.

They bloom and they bloom and they bloom.

Talk about the garden going out with a splash each year!

Insects love these flowers.  As I walk down the front path while the aromatic asters are in bloom, I'm usually surrounded by a happy hum of bees and by clouds of butterflies and skippers rising and then settling back to feed.

The predatory insects are well aware of how many pollinators are visiting.  It's easy to find wheel bugs, praying mantids, and ambush bugs hidden...often with an insect in their grasp.

One of these days, I'll try to collate a list of all the insects I've noted on aromatic asters.  Until then, I'll leave you with one simple question - have you added any to your garden yet?!


11 comments:

Donna@Gardens Eye View said...

I love all asters and these are especially lovely. I do have some Symphyotrichum oblongifolium, but my garden is done blooming for the year as we have cold weather now.

katob427 said...

So do you think we should call them aromatic Symphyotrichums now? I hope not!
Beautiful plantings. They make a great exit for autumn. I added a smooth aster which I think might be somewhat similar? I'd been avoiding them since the ones sold don't seem to last long in bloom... but this one is a different story and I'm hooked!
I looked up wheel bugs too. Interesting, but I'm ok without having them in my garden.
Frank

Benjamin Vogt said...

The last three years chrysanthemum lace bugs have gotten exponentially worse -- I think because I grew more sunflowers, which they breed on like gangbusters. So they spread to asters and goldenrod, making them all look ratty, bloom less, and cause some decline. Next year, no sunflowers, and we'll see if I can start to knock back the lace bug populations (though I hate to lose sunflowers for wildlife value).

Gaia Gardener: said...

Ben, I haven't had sunflowers for the most part, so I don't know how these guys got started in my garden. (Chrysanthemum lace bugs? Probably the species I've got too, but I've never tried to identify them beyond "lace bugs".) My lace bugs hit pretty much all the same species that yours do, although mine haven't caused much decline in bloom for anything but the rigid goldenrod. They get on my Wichita Mts. goldenrod and make the leaves look bad, but the plants still bloom well, as do the asters. I'm not quite sure why the predators don't take care of this species, since I have many, many ladybugs, lacewings, syrphid flies, etc., but the predators don't seem to be able to keep them under control at all.

Maybe I've got a new research topic to work on!

Gaia Gardener: said...

Frank, They are still asters to me!! I haven't grown smooth aster, so I don't know how it compares to aromatic aster. I've grown New England aster, which gets too dry here and browns out badly.

You're missing an awesome predator if you don't encourage wheel bugs in your garden. They are more effective than praying mantids in my garden! They don't have as much personality as the mantids, though.

Gaia Gardener: said...

Donna, we're due to get a week or more of winter weather, starting tomorrow night, so my last garden harrah is ending too.

Now it's time to focus on indoor projects and feeding the birds....

sweetbay said...

I do have this plant in my garden! It's my favorite aster, with willowleaf aster a close second. I don't think it's possible to have too many. :)

You asked about the Bidens -- I have Bidens aristosa. Out of curiosity I looked at the USDA map and Kansas is part of its range. Bidens prefers moist sunny to part shade conditions but is very adaptable and surprisingly drought tolerant. I can send seeds if you like -- just send me your address. My email address is sweetbay@embarqmail.com.

thevioletfern.com said...

I'm sold! I add an aster each year to my garden but not all of them "make it." Not sure why. I just planted a New England Aster which I purchased instead of a throw away Mum for the season. I sure hope it comes back. I am going to make it a point to add this Aster to my garden - I am certain it is native and that is a big bonus. They sure look beautiful in your garden - love them along the path. Thank you

Gardener on Sherlock Street said...

What a great way to end the season. They really do bloom in gobs!
The wind is howling hard here right now. It is sooooo cold after all the warm days we've had. I brought in a bouquet of cosmos and mums this afternoon. Probably the last one of the year.

Casa Mariposa said...

Your asters are beautiful! I'm not sure if any of mine are the S. oblongfolium or not. Maybe I need to give them a sniff. :o)

Janet QueenofSeaford said...

I planted a couple asters this year. Need to add more, have so few 'garden' blooms for late summer/fall. Now the blooms in my woods include various asters and goldenrod. Love it!