Content Detail

Heath aster is a native prairie plant that develops neat mounds of graceful, arching flowering stems with narrow leaves and hundreds of small daisy-like white, lavender, or pink flowers in late summer.

  • Family (English) Composite
  • Family (botanic) Asteraceae
  • Tree or plant type Perennial
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
  • Size range Small plant (6-12 inches), Medium plant (12-24 inches), Large plant (more than 24 inches)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Alkaline soil, Dry soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Clay soil, Road salt, Wet sites
  • Season of interest late summer, early fall, mid fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Blue, Pink, White
  • Shape or form Multi-stemmed, Upright
  • Growth rate Fast

Size:

Colony-forming, this species can reach 2 to 3 feet high.

Native geographic location and habitat:

It is found in mesic to dry soil prairies, savannas, open rocky forests, pastures, and along roadsides. It is native to North America. C-Value: 6

Attracts birds and other pollinators:

Heath aster attracts butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds.

Leaf description:

This native prairie plant has alternate, linear leaves that are 3 inches long and 1/4  inch wide. Its green hairy stems turn brown at maturity. The lower leaves tend to dry up while the flowers are in bloom.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size description:

Heath aster produces hundreds of small daisy-like flowers that are 1/2 inch in diameter with yellow disc shaped flowers and 12 white ray shaped flowers. The needle-like green bracts form on flowering stems.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

It gets seeds with tufts of white hairs that aid in wind dispersal.

Plant care:

This native prairie plant likes full sun and average to dry soils. It is tolerant of loam, clay, and gravelly soils. It is also drought tolerant once established. It spreads via rhizomatous roots to form colonies.

Disease, pest, and problem resistance:

This native prairie plant is more resistant to powdery mildew than other asters. It is deer, rabbit, and salt resistant and drought tolerant.

First Snow heath aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides ‘First Snow’):

It grows 18 to 24 inches high and 3 to 4 feet wide with arching stems and narrow, linear leaves.  Produces densely packed white flowers.

Pink Star heath aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides ‘Pink Star’):

This cultivar grows 2 feet high and 3 feet wide producing light pink, 1 inch flower clusters.

Snow Flurry heath aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides ‘Snow Flurry’):

This prostrate cultivar only grows 4 to 6 inches high and 24 inches wide with stiff linear leaves and numerous white flowers with yellow centers.

Related species and their differences

Calico aster or side-flowering aster (Symphyotrichum lateriflorum):

This perennial grows 1 to 3 feet high with branched stems, often leaning to one side. The stems are light green to reddish with white hairs. It has alternate, elliptical to linear leaves, that are 4 1/2 inches long and slightly toothed. The clusters of white flowers have few petals and numerous pale yellow disk flowers.

Lady in Black calico aster (Symphyotrichum lateriflorum ‘Lady in Black’ ):

It has dark purple foliage producing tiny white flowers with rosy centers that appear in dense, branching sprays in late summer to early autumn on rigid, purplish stems.

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