Content Detail

To attract pollinators, few plants are more effective than white wood aster. These colonizing late summer to midfall perennials work well in naturalized, wooded settings as well as cottage gardens, native gardens, pollinator gardens, and shade gardens. The abundant, showy nature of the white wood aster in bloom is hard to beat.

  • Family (English) Aster
  • Family (botanic) Asteraceae
  • Tree or plant type Perennial
  • Native locale North America
  • Size range Medium plant (12-24 inches), Large plant (more than 24 inches)
  • Light exposure Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily), Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Dry soil, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Dry sites, Occasional drought
  • Season of interest late summer, early fall, mid fall
  • Flower color and fragrance White
  • Shape or form Broad, Irregular, Mounded
  • Growth rate Fast
  • Wildlife Birds, Butterflies, Insect pollinators

Size and method of spreading:

White wood aster can spread aggressively. The plants can be divided in the spring, but the deep taproots can make this difficult. Seed is another method in which white wood aster can be spread. 

Native geographic location and habitat: (include C-value if appropriate)

White wood aster is native to most of the Eastern United States. 

Attracts birds or pollinators: 

The flowers of white wood aster attract bees, butterflies, wasps, beetles, plant bugs, and the foliage is a food source for a number of moth and butterfly caterpillars. The seeds are eaten by birds and small mammals. 

Leaf description:

The lower leaves of white wood aster are heart-shaped (cordate), and the upper leaves are less so but remain widest towards the base (ovate). The edges of the leaves are serrated. They are a dark green color. 

Flower description:

The flowers of white wood aster have small, daisylike flower heads that consist of six to eight white ray flowers and 11 to 50 yellow disk flowers that mature to a deep red color. The flower heads form in flat-topped terminal clusters (corymb structures). 

Fruit description:

Typical of an aster, the fruit of wood white aster is small, dry, and seedlike (achene) with white bristly hairs at the tip.

Plant care:

For more compact growth, cutting white wood aster back to 6 inches from the ground in the early summer is recommended. Due to the spreading nature of white wood aster, division in spring may be necessary to maintain appearance. 

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

White wood aster tolerates dry soils and occasional drought, shade, and deer. Though typically pest and disease-free, poorly drained clay soils can lead to aster wilt, and poor air circulation could lead to powdery mildew. 


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