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Wild Asters of Autumn - A Pollinator's Delight

Author:

Yvonne writes about and photographs the flora and fauna of Louisiana, sharing knowledge she learned through study and personal experience.

Asters are important pollinator plants.

Asters are important pollinator plants.

Native Asters for the Southern Landscape

As the days begin to grow shorter in late August and September, another of our favorite native flowering perennials, the Asters, begin putting on a show. A variety of colorful and hardy Asters are native to Louisiana and the Gulf Coastal region. We grow many varieties in our garden, including: the white flowered, Fall Aster (Aster ericoides), the tall bluish-purple flowers of Aster praealtus and the beautiful lavender Savanna Aster (Symphyotrichum chapmanii).

All are very easy to grow and will come back year after year. Members of the Aster family also attract pollinators, including several species of butterflies, honeybees and native bees. The seed heads are very attractive and add a bit of interest to the winter landscape.

Most of the wildflower photos on this page were taken by the author in her 9-acre backyard habitat.

White Asters, Aster ericoides

White Asters, Aster ericoides

Fall Aster - Aster ericoides

Description

These many branched plants grow 24 to 30 inches tall and some will stand erect and some will recline. The white flowers are small (only 1/2 inch wide) but occur in large clusters that will cover the plant. They occur throughout Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi from September into November.

Buckeye Butterfly

A buckeye butterfly drinks nectar from fall asters.

A buckeye butterfly drinks nectar from fall asters.

Wild Purple Aster

These tall beauties really put on a show in autumn.

These tall beauties really put on a show in autumn.

Blue to Purple Aster praealtus (also called Willow-leaf)

Description

Aster praealtus is a tall (up to 8 feet), beautiful bluish lavender perennial that grows in large colonies. The individual flowers are larger than those of the fall aster and the profusion of blooms on the 6 to 8 ft. plants is a sight to behold.

The plants will grow in almost any soil type and can be found in Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi from September to frost.

Monarch Butterfly on Wild Asters

Monarchs flock to wild blue asters whose nectar sustains them on their trek south to their wintering grounds in Mexico.

Monarchs flock to wild blue asters whose nectar sustains them on their trek south to their wintering grounds in Mexico.

Honeybees and many types of native bees visit a single wild aster blossom to gather nectar and pollen.

Savanna Aster

wild-asters-autumn

Savanna Aster - Symphyotrichum chapmanii

Description

The lovely Savanna Aster is a perennial herb that grows 1-3 feet tall in erect to arching stems which are divided into several slender branches. Each branch ends with a single blue to purple 1 1/2 inch flower having up to 21 rays on a brownish central head. The basal leaves are about 12 inches long and narrow. They bloom from August through November in flatwoods, bogs and savannas.

Honeybee on Aster

Wildflowers such as this purple aster are an important part in the prevention of Colony Collapse Disorder.

Wildflowers such as this purple aster are an important part in the prevention of Colony Collapse Disorder.

Wild Asters Attract and Feed Pollinators

Besides being beautiful additions to the fall garden, native Asters attract pollinators which are so important for our fruit orchards and vegetable gardens. With the recent decline in pollinators, this reason alone is enough to encourage their use in the landscape.

If you are using organic pest control, Asters and other small composite flowers, will help here, too. Several "assassin" insects and wasps visit these flowers and will help you by eating some of the insect pests in your garden.

Bumblebee in Aster

Native bees such as this bumblebee are important pollinators.

Native bees such as this bumblebee are important pollinators.

Wild Aster Seedheads

The fluffy seed heads of wild blue asters add winter interest to the landscape and can be collected and planted to produce more purple flowers.

The fluffy seed heads of wild blue asters add winter interest to the landscape and can be collected and planted to produce more purple flowers.

Growing Wild Asters


  • Seed heads of Asters are attractive in the winter landscape and are eaten by small songbirds.
  • Asters grow well in sun to part shade in acid soil. Aster praealtus can be pruned until June 1 to form a bushy shape. Aster ericoides can take more shade and moist conditions.
  • Propagate by root division or seed. The seeds will self sow or you can sprinkle them around where you'd like them to grow.

Canon Powershot SX50 HS Camera

We used Canon Powershot (S3 and S5) cameras to take most of the photographs on this page. These are great little cameras with many excellent features. We especially like the macro and super macro settings for closeups and the 12X to 48X zoom.

Now we have upgraded to the SX50 HS and we love, love love it. It takes great close ups and zooms in well, too. They are also reasonably priced.

Other Louisiana Wildflower Pages

  • October Blooming Native Sunflowers
    Just in time for Halloween, October brings bright yellow wild sunflowers that paint the native landscape in the bold colors of fall. Many species of this large group of native plants grow prolifically in the wild and several types are suitable for...
  • Indian Pink, Perennial Wildflower
    Beautiful native Indian pink deserves a place in any garden. It attracts hummingbirds and other pollinators and is a joy to behold.

© 2009 Yvonne L B

Tell us about your fall wildflowers or just leave a note.

Claudia Smaletz from East Coast on February 23, 2018:

Great pictures, and I see you have your favorite asters. They are beautiful flowers and I love the look of asters. They remind me of the chubby hand of a child reaching out to pick a flower for their mom.

Claudia Smaletz from East Coast on October 25, 2017:

Loved your picture of the aster seed heads out of blooms which add some intrigue to the fall garden. Glad to know another aster fan

Gayle Dowell from Kansas on September 21, 2012:

Wild asters are in bloom right now in our prairie yard. They are beautiful.

trees001 on November 02, 2011:

This looks fantastic! I love the photos you have!

anonymous on November 22, 2010:

Awesome lens! Beautiful pictures!

Yvonne L B (author) from Covington, LA on November 18, 2010:

@Tyla MacAllister: We use a Canon Powershot S5IS camera. It has a fabulous macro and super macro feature, plus a 12X to 48X zoom and many other good features. We set it on the P setting. It's not that expensive either.

Tyla MacAllister on November 17, 2010:

It's not really fall if the asters aren't blooming I just love asters and all the beautiful pollinators they bring. BTW,I live in Northeast Alabama and all the native asters in this lens grow near my home. Some of the white ones are still blooming now (the middle of November) because we haven't had much frost yet.

Your photos are just fabulous! Bees and flowers are my favorite photo subjects but my images don't compare to yours. Hopefully,practice will make perfect.

Mary Beth Granger from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA on September 14, 2010:

Beautiful photos. Love the bees on the flowers. Blessed.

anonymous on September 12, 2010:

Beautiful pictures. Asters are great, blooming when many other things are past. Blessed.

WindyWintersHubs from Vancouver Island, BC on October 10, 2009:

Very pretty blue flowers. I love your butterfly pictures. Nicely done! :)

Mihaela Vrban from Croatia on September 22, 2009:

Great pictures! Love that macro with butterfly! :) Blessed by an Angel!

Bambi Watson on September 17, 2009:

Asters are one of my favorites, I've never seen the daisy looking ones before, very interesting

Kiwisoutback from Massachusetts on September 17, 2009:

Beautiful loooking lens. We don't have much wildflowers around here, mostly grass (the area we live in is sandy). Great photography and setup on this lens as usual, very well done. Squid Angel blessed!

poutine on September 16, 2009:

Love those pictures of asters.

Great lens.

Joan4 on September 16, 2009:

Beautiful wild asters! Blessed by a joyful SquidAngel!

blue22d on September 13, 2009:

Beautiful lens - I felt like I was walking in a field. ***** and a favorite.

anonymous on September 13, 2009:

What gorgeous photos of the Asters and great information too. I love wildflowers.

Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on September 13, 2009:

Your amazing photography is so wonderful on your products. I really enjoyed this lens as I love any wildflower. You have truly captured the beauty of the Wild Asters.