Stokes' aster (Stokesia laevis) is a versatile and showy native perennial that makes for an attractive and low-maintenance garden addition. This wildflower offers beauty with both its flowers and attractive, evergreen foliage. Stoke' aster is named to honor the English physician and botanist Jonathan Stokes who became well known for his work using foxglove (digitalis) to treat heart failure.
Stokes' aster flowers are normally blue-lilac, but cultivars are available in deep blue, purple, rosy-pink, silvery-white, or even yellow. Flowers can grow to be as large as four inches across and bloom on and off starting in spring.
The cultivar 'Color Wheel' adds variable interest with flowers that change from white to purple throughout the day. 'Klaus Jelitto' and 'Peachie's Pick' produce lovely blue flowers, while 'Blue Danube' has blue flowers with white centers. 'Purple Parasols' and 'Honeyray Purple' dazzle with lovely violet blooms. 'Alba' and 'Silver Moon' shine with white blooms and 'Mary Gregory' produces soft yellow flowers.
Not only are the flowers a beautiful addition to your landscape, their nectar attracts pollinators like butterflies and bees. Stokes' aster does best in Zones 8 through 9A. These perennial flowers work wonderfully as borders or grown in containers. They can also serve as a lovely part of a wildflower, butterfly, or cut flower garden. When used as cut flowers, Stoke' aster will hold up for about a week after cutting.
Planting and Care
Stokes' aster is easy to care for once established. It performs best in partially sunny locations with well-drained, acidic soil and can grow from 10 to 24 inches tall. While this plant requires very little maintenance, you may need to divide mature clumps. You can also deadhead (pinching off spent flowerheads) to encourage more flowering. Plants can occasionally be damaged by deer but are generally considered deer resistant.
For more information, contact your local Extension office.