. . . perennial care and growing information
Stokes' aster is an herbaceous perennial native to the southeastern coastal plain from South Carolina to northern Florida to Louisiana where it grows in wetlands, including pine flatwoods and savannas. This easily grown, reliable native was very popular in old gardens.
It was named after Dr. Jonathan Stokes, an early 19th century English writer and botanist, who was a friend of Linnaeus' son.
The seeds contain up to 40 percent oil, of which about 75 percent is in the form of the epoxy fatty acid, vernolic acid: this can be used in the manufacture of plastics, varnishes and adhesives (superglue).
The 3-4 inch delicate fringed flowers range in color from blue, lavender, pink, white or yellow and are produced from early July to October. Blooming usually lasts for several weeks, but during a mild Winter, they may bloom and grow continuously.
Their shaggy cornflower-like flowerheads are similar to that of bachelors buttons. The ray florets are fringed and in two concentric rows, and the disc florets are darker shades of the same colors.
Stokesia forms low rosettes of foliage 1-2 feet in diameter with stout, upright stems and evergreen petiolate basal leaves. In summer it sprouts several erect stems which have smaller, clasping leaves and stand about 1-2 feet tall. The stems and leaf veins are sometimes tinged with purple
Flowering stems tend to flop, particularly after a strong thunderstorm. When cut, they make excellent long-lasting cut flowers to add to a summer bouquet or arrangement.
The deep green basal leaves are evergreen and, when not covered by snow, provide some color and texture all winter. Use in cottage gardens or the front of perennial borders, planted in small groupings or along walkways to create a long flowering accent.
Flowering plants can also be added to container gardens and used on patios, decks and balconies.
- Appreciates a winter mulch in the northern parts of its growing range.
- Deadhead individual spent flowers and remove spent flowering stems to encourage additional bloom.
- A little shade in the hottest part of the day is beneficial.
- Apply a light scattering of a general garden fertilizer every six to eight weeks March though October.
- Divide the clumps every couple of years in the spring to prevent overcrowding and diminished flowering.