By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
Heath aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides syn. Aster ericoides) is a hardy perennial with fuzzy stems and masses of tiny, daisy-like, white aster flowers, each with a yellow eye. Growing heath aster isn’t difficult, as the plant tolerates a variety of conditions, including drought, rocky, sandy or clay soil and badly eroded areas. It is suitable for growing in USDA plant hardiness zones 3- 10. Read on to learn the basics of growing heath aster.
Heath aster is native to Canada and the Eastern and Central areas of the United States. This aster plant thrives in prairies and meadows. In the home garden, it well suited for wildflower gardens, rock gardens or borders. It is often used in prairie restoration projects, as it responds vigorously after fire.
A variety of bees and other beneficial insects are attracted to heath aster. It is also visited by butterflies.
It’s a good idea to check with your local cooperative extension office before growing heath aster, as the plant is invasive in some areas and may crowd out other vegetation if not carefully controlled. Conversely, the plant is endangered in some states, including Tennessee.
Very little care is necessary for growing heath asters. Here are a few tips on heath aster plant care to get you started:
Plant seeds directly outdoors in autumn or before the last frost in spring. Germination usually occurs in about two weeks. Alternatively, divide mature plants in spring or early autumn. Divide the plant into smaller sections, each with healthy buds and roots.
Plant heath aster in full sunlight and well-drained soil.
Water new plants regularly to keep the soil moist, but never soggy. Mature plants benefit from occasional irrigation during hot, dry weather.
Heath aster is rarely bothered by pests or disease.
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Colony-forming, 2 to 3 feet high.
Full sun in average to dry soils. Tolerant of loam, clay, gravelly soils.
Drought tolerant once established.
Rhizomatous roots form colonies.
More resistant to powdery milder than other asters.
Deer, rabbits, salt, drought
Found in mesic to dry soil prairies, savannas, open rocky forests, and along roadsides and pastures.
North America, Mexico
Butterflies, bees, hummingbirds
Alternate, linear, 3 inches long and 1/4 inch wide.
Green hairy stems turn brown at maturity.
Lower leaves tend to dry up while flowers are in bloom.
Hundreds of small daisy-like flowers 1/2 inch diameter with yellow (disc) flowers and 12 white (ray) flowers.
Needle-like green bracts form on flowering stems.
Seeds with tufts of white hairs aid in wind dispersal.
First Snow Heath Aster (Symphytotricum ericoides 'First Snow'): 18 to 24 inches high and 3 to 4 feet wide, arching stems densely packed white flowers narrow, linear leaves
Pink Star Heath Aster (Symphytotricum ericoides 'Pink Star'): 2 feet high and 3 feet wide light pink 1 inch flower clusters
Snow Flurry Heath Aster (Symphytotricum ericoides 'Snow Flurry'): prostrate, 4 to 6 inches high and 24 inches wide stiff linear leaves numerous white flowers with yellow centers
Calico Aster or Side-flowering Aster (Symphytotricum lateriflorum): 1 to 3 feet high, branched stems often leaning to one side light green to reddish stems with white hairs alternate, elliptical to linear leaves, 41/2 inches long and slightly toothed. The clusters of white flowers have few petals and numerous pale yellow disk flowers.
Lady in Black Calico Aster (Symphytotricum lateriflorum 'Lady in Black’ ): Dark purple foliage tiny white flowers with rosy centers appear in dense, branching sprays in late summer to early autumn on rigid, purplish stems.
Heath Aster thrives on the driest sand and gravel soils, producing a blizzard of bright white flowers in late summer and early fall. Creeping slowly by rhizomes to form nice patches, Heath Aster is one of our longest lived native asters …
|Soil Type||Loam, Sand|
|Soil Moisture||Dry, Medium|
|Sun Exposure||Full Sun|
|Height||1' - 3'|
|Bloom Time||Aug, Sep, Oct|
|Zones||3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9|
|Benefits||Birds, Butterflies, Pollinators, Host Plant|
Heath Aster (Aster ericoides) thrives on the driest sand and gravel soils, producing a blizzard of bright white flowers in late summer and early fall. Creeping slowly by rhizomes to form nice patches, Heath Aster is one of our longest lived native asters. Plant it with Sky Blue Aster and Smooth Aster for a great fall show. This aster is a host plant for Pearl Crescent, and Field Crescent butterflies.
Native plants can be grown outside of their native range in the appropriate growing conditions. This map shows the native range, as well as the introduced range, of this species.