Native Plants That Thrive in Maryland
‘Bluebird’ Smooth Aster
‘Bluebird’ Smooth Aster is robust, upright herbaceous perennial that blooms in September and October. It is easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soil in full sun. With showy, violet blue rays and yellow centers it is an attractant to butterflies. This plant is a great choice for meadows and cottage gardens. Additionally, it is drought, erosion, and dry/rocky soil tolerant.
I love to use aster in a sunny location to add fall colors into the garden. It’s great in a meadowlike setting and is a pollinator powerhouse plant. I usually combine asters with some pretty other fall blooming plants like Solidago (goldenrod) and grasses like Panicum virgatum (switchgrass) or Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem). You can trim asters back in mid July to help them be less leggy in the fall. Many falls the Echinacea purpurea (purple coneflowers), Rudbeckia var fulgida (Black eyed Susan) and Vernonia novaboracensis (NY ironweed) are still in bloom and look nice combined with asters and the grasses mentioned. Deer tend to munch asters though I’ve rarely seen them eat them all the way to the ground.–Lauren Turner
Asters are such a wonderful late-season choice for pollinators and it’s great to have that last burst of blue-purple as we go into fall! I love to see big, soft clouds of them weaving through grasses and the stalks of spent summer blooms. I especially like to use them contrasted against dark foliage plants such as Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) cultivars like ‘Ginger Wine,’ ‘Summer Wine,’ and ‘Tiny Wine’ or Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red.’–Amy P.