Stokes’ aster, also known as stokesia, is native to southeastern United States. It begins blooming sporadically in late spring but is prized for its midsummer and fall flower show. A favorite stopping point for pollinators, Stokes’ aster has lavender, pink, or white cornflowerlike flowers. Wonderful for cutting flowers and a great drought-tolerant plant for native and wildflower plantings, Stokes’ aster is a showy, reliable perennial.
Favorite Fall Bloomers
Reinvigorate the garden in late summer with Stokes' aster. Pair it with other fall favorites and the autumn garden will close the growing season in blooming style. Great perennials to plant with Stokes' aster for fall perennial plantings include monkshood, anise hyssop, snakeroot, stonecrop, globe thistle, sneezeweed, Russian sage, meadow sage, and toad lily. If late summer- and fall-blooming perennials burst into bloom earlier than anticipated, deadhead the plants as soon as the blossoms fade to encourage another round of flowers to develop.
Stokes' Aster Care Must-Knows
Stokes' aster grows best in full sun or part shade and fertile, well-drained soil. Choose a planting site that receives at least 6 hours of bright sunlight a day for best blossoms. Tolerant of both heat and dry conditions, after it establishes a strong root system, Stokes' aster grows well in tough planting sites. Rabbits often devour Stokes' aster. If planted in an area with a large rabbit population, be sure to provide protection by installing a chicken wire fence.
Remove spent flowers as soon as they droop to promote reblooming. Shear plants in midsummer, if needed, to create dense new growth. In Zone 5, cover plants with a thick layer of mulch in late fall for winter protection. Plants can be divided every two or three years in early spring.
More Varieties of Stokes' Aster
This variety of Stokesia laevis has fluffy, cornflowerlike flowers on compact plants. It is often evergreen in mild climates. It grows 12 to 18 inches tall. Zones 5-9.
Stokesia laevis 'Wyoming' has fluffy lavender heads of flowers in 18-inch stems. The deep green leaves have a conspicuous pale midrib. This long-blooming perennial is excellent for cutting and attracts butterflies in the garden. It is hardy in Zones 5-9.
Plant Stokes' Aster With:
Lamb's-ears is a top pick for a groundcover in a hot, baked spot. Its silver felted foliage quickly forms a dense, delightful mat. It also contrasts nicely with other foliage and most flowers. enhances almost everything. Depending on the type and your growing conditions, it may self-sow freely to the point of becoming a bother. In hot humid climates, lamb's ears may "melt down" in summer, becoming brown and limp.A quite different but related plant, big betony is worth growing for its shade tolerance, dark green crumpled leaves, and bright purple spikes of whorled 1-inch flowers in late spring. Wood betony is similar but not as shade-tolerant.
Romantic, usually bobbing, often blue bellflowers are classic cottage garden plants. Tall types look like something straight out of a fairy tale garden, while ground-hugging types are good in rock gardens, more formal gardens, and many other situations. Most are perennial, but a notable exception is Canterbury bells, a stately biennial (it takes two years to bloom). Flowers come in blue, purple, white, or pink. Shown above: Campanula carpatica
One of the longest bloomers in the garden, coreopsis produces (usually) sunny yellow daisylike flowers that attract butterflies. Coreopsis, depending on the variety, also bears golden-yellow, pale yellow, pink, or bicolor flowers. It will bloom from early to midsummer or longer as long as it's deadheaded.