Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Monday, October 6, 2008

Pardon My Big Aster!



Aster tataricus really is a big aster.

Woodland garden near front Porch
It is 5 foot tall in the sunnier border and hovering at 4 foot in the shade. Rumor has it that at maturity it could reach 8 foot tall. We are crossing our fingers that this pass-a-long plant from a friend, who got it from her friend, is the named variety Jin Dai.



Jin Dai shouldn't get over 5 foot tall! Tatarian aster is often mistakenly spelled Aster Tartaricus! I was told it was Tartar Aster by the friend who gave me the plant. That's all she could remember. It's native to southern Siberia, northern China, Mongolia, Korea and Japan, where it grows in meadows and wetlands. Jin Dai is a cultivar produced from a seedling that was found at a Japanese botanical garden. I like these little bits of plant history, don't you?

Even at 5 feet it is a tall plant! If you have the space, you could plant JD in the back of the border along with Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium), Golden Rods (Solidago) or even Verbena bonariensis.
Under ideal circumstances it will be aggressive! I don't have ideal circumstances. It has crept a bit, but not aggressively. It's been here for 6 years and it hasn't shown any real aggressive tendencies. But Clay and Limestone is all about dry, not moist shade. Dividing it every other year will keep it in check. Then you'll have plenty of plants to pass on to friends! You can share the love! With a small caveat, of course.  Let me add here, that Mr. McGregor's Daughter has Aster t  in her garden and he was behaving very nicely.  Then mysteriously, the Chicago area got all our rain!  Now, Aster t is taller then he had been, but don't my word for it, she's posted some photos of the big guy here


I've allowed it to naturalize in one area of the woodland garden, in high shade beneath a Hackberry tree. There is plenty of root competition to keep it in check. Planted near by are native blue and white wood asters, Beautyberry Bush, False Dragonhead and Goldenrods.

Aster Tataricus begins flowering in September and will flower until frost. This makes the butterflies and many bees that visit it VERY happy! Butterflies appreciate the flowers late in the season when there is very little still blooming.

This Halloween colored bug has been stopping by for the last few days. I wonder if he is a good bug or a mischievous bug? Just in...id-ed by Vertie (Vert) as Lichen Moth, thank you.

There is always a visitor on the pretty lavender flowers. If you look closely, you can see a tiny little guy to the left of the big bug! The photos in this post were all shot over the weekend and there were always small insects or bees on the flowers.




Let me be completely honest with you! There are minuses to Aster tataricus. It's big, it has been called course and it will be aggressive in moist soil! Not might, but will be aggressive.

There are also a few pluses to Aster tataricus. It's big when you want to make a statement and has distinctive lower leaves that resemble a tobacco plant to carry it through the non-flowering times; it doesn't need staking; it's an insect and bee magnet and it flowers very late and until frost providing nectar for late visiting Monarch Butterflies.

You will have to decide whether or not you want to take a chance with this guy! I am keeping him for the time being...so please, will you, pardon my big aster!

Gail


The facts!
Zones 3 to 9
Asteraceae Family
Perennial
3 to 6 feet tall
2 to 3 foot spread
Blooms September to Frost
Violet or Lavender flowers with yellow center
Medium shade to full sun
Non native plant
Moist soil (will be aggressive)

62 comments:

  1. Hmmm, I may have to move the plant you gave me. You say it likes to mingle with the Joe Pye? Of course moist is something quite foreign here, but they are calling for rain mid week! Could it be possible we will see liquid fall from the sky? Love your spooky insect!
    Frances

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  2. That's some great info on your big aster! The blooms are lovely.

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  3. frances,

    Moisture in soil? I don't recognize that either! I was digging with my new perennial spade (so nice and sharp!) in the very hard soil and wondered when the rains would come and bring my garden back to life!

    I will believe it will rain when I am lying on the grass with drops falling on me! The sprinkler does not count!

    Gail

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  4. cindy,

    I do like my big aster! The blooms are sweet and draw a crowd! I think I might add another photo so you can see how it looks in the woodland garden!

    Gail

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  5. What a pretty Aster, he is a tall one though. He has a similar flower to my False Aster.

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  6. Hi Gail. It sure is a lovely color. I'm researching asters to find which one I want to add next season.
    Marnie

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  7. Wow that is a big Aster! Thanks for sharing the info about it.

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  8. I have this big aster. It has been allowed to mosey along the fence line. It is a beauty when it blooms. When mine is in full bloom I will post about it so you can see it. I pull it out by the hands full to keep it from over running the nearby plants. I have Baptisia by it. A nice contrast in leaves and the Baptisia can hold its own with it.

    My aster rarely (never) gets any supplement water since it was established. It has done fine.

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  9. Asters are such great fall plants. I love how they come in all different sizes and colors. This one is quite amazing with that height.

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  10. I love asters -- wouldn't that tall variety look amazing along a weathered fence? Beautiful photos, too!

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  11. Love the title, Gail; thanks for the chuckle to wake me up this morning:) I thought this aster looked like one I saw at the local prairie restoration site, but I guess not if it's a native of Siberia! There are so many varieties of asters; this one would be great if for no other reason than the way it attracts insects. I hope someone identifies your Halloween bug; I'm curious, too, what it is.

    By the way, what is rain??

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  12. That is a biggie(-:
    Pretty too(-: I am thinking my asters would have been nicer with more water here! I will remember that for next year. Some do get a lot others dont. It was not a good summer for watering here this year either.
    We finally got our first rain in 5 months here on Friday. We have a long way to go.
    Thanks for sharing the info.

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  13. I was excited to see this aster as my friend gave me a few starts in July right before we went on vacation. Despite the drought these tall guys are blooming beautifully just like you said. Such a soft lavender but it makes a big impact. I hope it spreads here. I bet your native area under the hackberry is gorgeous.

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  14. You have a nice aster. We sprinkled wildflower seeds in our school courtyard and this one was one of the most energetic of the mix. Thanks for identifying it for me!

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  15. Racquel,

    The aster family is so huge and filled with fantastic plants. I thought your aster was a really cute and if it looks like Boltonia it is quite nice!

    Gail

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  16. Very tall aster! You take such great photographs. :-) I agree that it would be a wonderful back of the garden plant in front of a weathered fence. I don't have one of those fences. Too bad! ;-) Thanks for sharing!!

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  17. Marnie,

    I can recommend this beauty...but don't put it any place it would over run other plants...do you have a nice dry spot? I hope you post about the asters you will be adding to the garden....I can also recommend the wood asters like Aster divaricatus (White Wood Asrer) and Late Purple Aster (Symphyotrichum patens) but they are rougher looking plants for woodland gardens.

    Gail

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  18. darla,

    It is a big aster! You have to want it and it is often way too big for most gardens.

    gail

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  19. Lisa,

    That is great news...the no extra water and planting it with Baptisia! That sounds like a good combo to me, too. I know your post will be great!

    Gail

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  20. susie,

    Let's hope it isn't the 8 foot tall one...or I will be posting about Jack and the Giant! Do you have any classic asters you especially love?

    Gail

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  21. nancy,

    I like the idea of it growing along a weathered fence! I have just the spot...Thank you for reminding me! I'm glad you like the photos...it is a rather delicate flower head and blows in the slightest breeze...requiring many takes!

    Gail

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  22. Rose,

    I am glad it made you smile...It came to me last night as I was putting the post together! No prairie restorationwith this aster! It would run over the goldenrods, well, maybe they would have a beautiful merging! All that golden yellow and lilac.

    I will check out the bug later, but now I am wondering, myself what is this thing called rain? It is a puzzle!

    gail

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  23. Cinde,

    I am going to stop whining about rain. It has been 6 weeks here not 5 months! So glad you finally had a break in the weather.

    I think asters do respond with more water....don't we all!

    Gail

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  24. A really tall pretty one! I like all the bugs and do hope they are good bugs! lol... I like your saying, "Share the Love"! that is a great way to put passing along plants to others.. I will remember that one!

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  25. Tina,

    I am glad you like it and don't get mad at your friend when it spreads! It might pspread more then you thin...You have better soil then we have here! It really is a charming color and flower. Do the insects like yours, too?

    It's not bad under the hackberry...sometimes it's hard to see what others see. Sometimes I can see the deficits easier then the assets!

    Gail

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  26. jgh,

    I think energetic is my new word! I like it! may I use it? I am glad I could help! you id this big beautiful guy!

    Gail

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  27. I haven't really noticed if the insects are buzzing around it much. It is inside a large garden where I see it from afar. But I shall make a special effort to look.

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  28. shady,

    You're so very welcome...this is quite a show off plant and he seems to want to be in the world...maybe even in Iowa! Behind the hosta where the trees came down? HMM...bare root shipping!

    Have a great day Shady....gail

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  29. skeeter,

    The bugs are incredible...always there and the bees are so very happy, they don't mind when I stand close to take their photos! I will have to id that halloween bug soon.

    The share the love can be tongue in cheek, too. Some folks might not like this love offering!

    Hope you had a great weekend!

    Gail

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  30. Tina,

    I hope the black and orange bug is on yours then there will be two research oriented people checking it out!

    Gail

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  31. That's a tall aster. Our asters are about done for the year. I've seen some similar flowers out in the wild to your aster. Do you think they are like yours but have escaped captivity, or just a native that looks similar? It has nice blooms I can see where it would be tempting to plant!

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  32. Dave, This is an unforgettable large aster with huge leaves. It looks like Aster laevis or Smooth Aster which also has basal leaves. There are lots of asters in bloom in the dry woods right now. Blues and whites.

    Gail

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  33. It has a very pretty delicateness about it in spite of the height. The pale lavender must show well in the low light of evening. A plus when you get home after a long day!

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  34. Your post title cracks me up, you're such a clever one! I have no experience with asters (big or small) but this one looks like a keeper judging by all the insect activity. I just planted two (x frikartii and novi belgii) so we'll see how they do in my garden next year. As tall as these are, they don't require staking?

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  35. The bees like it a whole bunch. Haven't noticed the Halloween bug but will keep a look out.

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  36. Your Aster tataricus looks like a good plant for someone with room for it, Gail. I'm afraid that it would either get no moisture here so it would be spindly, or too much rain and be converted into a thug! We don't seem to have anything in between!

    I really do like how it stands up tall and straight...unlike my own droopy, saggy asters ;-]

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

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  37. Gail .. I had such a good laugh over the title of your post here ! Thanks !
    What a gorgeous aster though ! .. big and maybe a bit of a problem doesn't scare me .. I'm bigger and more of a problem ? LOL
    Beautiful pictures .. love the Halloween bug very much !
    Joy

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  38. layanee,

    It would loom lovely in your garden...you have the backdrop for its strong and as you say delicate appearance. Btw, I think it is delicate...in many ways a see through plant; the leaves are smaller at the top and don't over whelm the space.

    Gail

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  39. kathleen,

    They don't require stacking at all! Even in the wind they are fine. But they are not cumbersome but delicate as Layanee said in her comment.

    You have just added two good looking asters to your garden. Just remember they can be cut back to remain busy.

    Glad you liked the title!

    Gail

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  40. Annie,

    Tartar Aster loves moisture, I'm inclined to agree with you it would either be a thirsty pest or a thug! Better off in another garden.

    Since we are getting warmer and dryer in Nashville...more plants will be going on the 'can't grow here list'. Xeriscaping is going to have to be the way to go.

    So what does an Austinite plant to replace asters?

    Gail

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  41. Joy,

    I am so glad you enjoyed the title! Blogging has allowed me to let my inner 13 yr old out and she thought that was cute.

    As soon as Id the bug I will give it an official name but I sure like Halloween bug as a name for it.

    Gail

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  42. Wow Gail, that's a big aster! I haven't had much luck with asters in this garden, but I haven't given up on them yet.

    I hope you get some rain soon.

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  43. I'm late with my blog reading since we're at the Outer Banks on vacation. However, I just had to visit to see this aster. I love the color! When I left home, my bog salvia was still blooming. Since both like moisture, that might make a great blue combo. Thanks! Cameron

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  44. what a lovely aster you have even if it is too big. haha.

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  45. Hi Gail,
    Wow, that is one big aster! I'd be afraid to plant it here though, given our weird spring/summers the past few years. We don't need any more thugs, lol. That said, it is cool that it blooms so late and provides butterfly/bee food. We're still aster free here and relying on the Toad Lilies, but we've seen a few asters for sale recently that may have to come home with us, but they're the deeper purple varieties.

    If we had your space, I'd find a spot for yours because it is a really striking one!

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  46. Okay Gail, it will be on 'the never ending list'!

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  47. Great title! Brought a smile this morn. Your pictures are wonderful and show just how delicate the blooms are. Are you getting rain yet. It is just to the west of us-no watering today!!

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  48. Beautiful asters. I think your mystery bug is black-and-yellow lichen moth. According to my National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Insects, it's found throughout North America. Some of the Internet references give it a more limited range.
    http://bugguide.net/node/view/7993

    There's a chance (just because I can't tell that clearly from the photo and I'm still new at this) that it's an orange-patched smoky moth, but I think it's more likely to be the lichen moth. Here's a close-up of the lichen moth: http://bugguide.net/node/view/80057

    Or it could be the beetle that both these moths are mimicking: http://bugguide.net/node/view/366.

    The caterpillar of the lichen moth eats, you guessed it lichen, but you probably won't ever see it.

    Overall, I think you've got a good bug. But can you get a close-up of all those little ones? Those are probably what the moth is after.

    Hope this helps. It was fun trying to figure it out. Of course, you are always welcome to catch one and mail me a specimen.

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  49. Gargengirl,

    I am behind in my commenting! Has it started raining up there for you? It is Finally raining here. YIPPEE!

    There are some really lovely asters that grow wild in my garden...I can send you some! Nothing nature or I throw at them has stopped either the white or blue blooms!

    Gail

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  50. cameron, Hi I know you are having a great time at the beach! Thank you for taking time to stop by! It is a fun aster! Very tall and such a nice late season bloomer. Gail

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  51. marmee...Yes my aster is getting too big! I like the color, too...it is so sweet.

    Gail

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  52. IVG,

    It's too big for most gardens....I have a great space for it since I plant it in the shade. If rain returns to our summer or we get any warmer this guy may own the garden!

    Your Toad Lilies are fabulous.

    Gail

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  53. beckie,

    It's raining right now we! I may have to go outside and lay on the driveway...see my response to Frances!

    it's probably raining in Illinois, too..isn't is wonderful?

    gail

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  54. Vertie...You are fantastic! Thank you for id-ing the moth...I thought it must be a moth, it looked like one but it kept fooling me when it stuck around like a bug. Moths seem to spook easily and it just hung onto the flower. I will see if any of the little guys are still on the flower...right now it is finally raining with more expected tomorrow...no bugs out.

    Thank you!

    Gail

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  55. Your aster has a beautiful colour. It's almost like its own little ecosystem, with all the critter interaction.
    I like to know the history of plants, too. It connects me to other gardeners from the past.

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  56. Hi Gail,
    I noticed on TV tonight that you were getting rain! We got a lot last night and through today as well, but especially glad to know you got wet tonight ... hope it helps!

    Glad you like the Toad Lilies ... I've still got a few more to post, so do stop by to see. :-)

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  57. OOPS, forgot I wasn't in Blogger, lol. That last comment was me, IVG. :-)

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  58. I should have titled my post "Mine's Bigger." LOL What a coincidence that we posted about them at the same time. (I started my post the night before.) I'll have to put in a link. I can attest that it does get bigger in moist soil. Mine was well behaved & topping out at 4 feet til the rains of August 2007, the abundant snows of Winter 07-08, and the rains of this year.

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  59. That's a big aster, but mine is bigger. Neener, neener! :-)

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  60. What a nice big aster you have, gail. Several as a matter of fact. A very sweet color and delicate bloom. You know I always love all the buggies making their home on the blooms.
    Great info.
    Meems

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  61. Very interesting aster! I enjoyed reading about it. Not sure I want to try it out.
    Marie

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


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