Florida Friendly Plant of the Week: Stokes aster

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Florida Friendly Plant of the Week: Stokes aster

November 24, 2016 - 07:57

Any Florida garden can benefit from the addition of the Stokes aster (Stokesia laevis). Native to central and northern Florida, it is an herbaceous perennial that will bring a show of colorful flowers to your garden for an entire summer.

Commonly a lovely lavender, purple color, some varieties can be blue, white or pinkish and some can even be silvery-white or yellow. The blooms can be as big as 4 inches, with frilly petals and intricate centers and can can grace your garden from late spring through summer with proper care. It is also the ideal plant to attract small native bees and various butterflies.

Care of this charming plant is minimal once established in the garden and it’s drought tolerant. It thrives best in partially sunny locations with well-drained, acidic soil and can grow from 10 to 24 inches tall. Wet soil in winter is the main cause of death for this plant.

Because it's a perennial, mature clumps can be divided to yield new plants. Deadheading (pinching off spent flowerheads) encourages more flowering. This species readily self-sows and can adapt to many conditions.

Stokes' aster, Stokesia laevis, is native to the southeastern coastal plain from South Carolina to central Florida to Louisiana where it grows in wetlands, including pine flatwoods, savannas, and pitcher plant seepage areas.

For those who live in the norther parts of Florida, grow Stokes asters in a sunny location but if you live further south make sure to avoid planting in spots with glaring sun. New plants should be kept well-watered. They may also be planted with other flowering native plants, such as blanket flower, for a summer show.

Stokes asters are readily available in nurseries throughout northern and central Florida.