Common name:New England Aster
Scientific name: Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (old name: Aster novae-anglia L.)
Family name: Asteraceae
Attracts: This is an insect magnet. Expect hoards of bees, butterflies, beetles and moths sipping the nectar in the fall. Rabbits seem not to like to eat most species in this genus.
Host plant to: Saddleback Caterpillar (Acharia stimulea), Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos), Silvery Checkerspot (Chlosyne nyceteis), Cucullia caterpillars (Cucuillias spp.), Flower Moths (Schinia spp.), Striped garden Caterpillar (Trichordestra legitima).
Native range: Symphyotrichum novae-anglia L. ranges from Quebec to Alberta, south to North Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico.
Habitat: This plant is often found in moist prairies, meadows, roadsides and streams. It likes well-drained soil and prefers sandy, loamy and clay soils. This plant can grow on nutritionally poor soil but prefers rich soil.
Height: 2-6 feet
Light needed: grows well in a sunny location and can succeed in partial shade.
Bloom period: in fall
Bloom color: violet to purple or rose
Growing Tips: The seeds should be sown fresh in the fall or spring. Pre-chill spring sown seeds to improve germination. When the seedlings are large enough to handle, place them into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. This aster is very easy to find for sale in nurseries and supermarkets.
Resource: USDA Plant Fact Sheet/Guide Coordination Page http://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_syno2.pdf
Photo credits: Donna L. Long