|Of course it came to live in my garden~who wouldn't want a climbing aster|
south-west facing wall right off the driveway. Although, the color of the brick is rather orange, I didn't care if there was color clash, I had hopes that after a few seasons it would cover the trellis and obscure the wall with its lovely foliage and bloom. What I didn't take into consideration was that this delightful plant hailed from fresh water marshes along the southeastern coast from the Carolinas to Florida or that the next few summers in Middle Tennessee would bring moisture loving plants to their knees. I just knew that I loved it and like many a gardener before me, I fell for its pretty face, a pretty aster face in this case.
That was 2009 and I am happy to report that it is alive and blooming in my garden today. Carolina aster has survived drought and flooding and has only required that I make sure it has good sun, a mulch to keep the soil moist and a big drink of water once a week during our hot, dry summers. I think it has been worth a little effort.
|resembles Symphyotrichum paten's flower and clasping leaf form.|
What makes this aster especially unique is that it's the only woody perennial scandent (climbing) aster in North America.
Ampelaster carolinianus has sweet honey scented pink lilac flowers that bloom in late fall~October in my garden and November in warmer climates. Each flower is about one inch wide, and like other composite members of the Asteraceae family, each of the flowers has many tiny disk and ray flowers that make nectar and pollen for late visiting pollinators. Pretty flower faced Climbing Aster is a wonderful addition to a pollinator garden with its sweet honey scent, late season nectar and pollen source and most delightful of all, it's a host plant for the American Painted Lady butterfly caterpillar.
If you're considering adding this sweetie to your garden please note that it hasn't tendrils to help it climb, so you'll need to provide a support with widely spaced slats for it to weave in and out as it grows. I think of it as a much branched sprawling sub-shrub that clambers up, over and through a trellis or vegetation. Let it climb or let romp through the border either way it looks good.
Bottom Line Info:
- It will grow as far south as Zone 9 and with protection as far north as Zone 6.
- It is by NO stretch of the imagination a xeric plant! It hails from the Southeastern US (Carolinas to Florida).
- Climbing aster "climbs" without the tendrils or other structures that one normally associates with vines. As such, it is not too aggressive, but, it can spread by seed.
- It can be grown easily from seed collected in the winter, or from cuttings taken spring through summer.
- It is deciduous, but will stay green well into early winter and remains leafless for only a few weeks in zones 8 or 9.
- It prefers a mostly sunny location and will not bloom well if given too much shade.
- A vigorous grower when happy, you might want to consider pruning it to maintain shape and size. Prune in late winter to control the growth. It flowers on new growth so chop away! To create an attractive self-supporting sub-shrub for the perennial border, cut it back for several years to shape and control.
- Like all asteraceae, it attracts many pollinators looking for nectar and pollen and is a caterpillar food plant for the American Painted Lady butterfly.
- It has a sweet honey like fragrance.
- Fall blooming until frost for all the bees and late visiting butterflies.
That's my Wildflower Wednesday story and I am sticking to it. Now let me here yours!
Welcome to Clay and Limestone's Wildflower Wednesday celebration. WW is about sharing and celebrating wildflowers from all over this great big, beautiful world. Join us on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Remember, it doesn't matter if they are in bloom or not, and, it doesn't matter if we all share the same plants. It's all about celebrating wildflowers. Please leave a comment when you add your url to Mr Linky.
*The mixture: Symphyotrichum shortii, S cordifolium, Eurybia divaricata, S lateriflorum and S ericoides var. ericoides, S novae-angliae, S praealtum~Miss Bessie, S oblongifolius, S patens and S priceae
Plants can be obtained locally at GroWild Native Nursery, online at Plant Delight Nursery and Brushwood Nursery.
Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.