Monday, October 6, 2008
Pardon My Big Aster!
Aster tataricus really is a big aster.
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!
Zones 3 to 9
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)