Aster laevis 'Bluebird'
A glorious presence in the sunny garden, this free-flowering selection of our native Smooth Aster sets hundreds and hundreds of bold 1-inch daisies colored a rich lavender-blue around a gold center. Monarch butterflies love the nectar of Bluebird, and the plant is vigorous and drought-tolerant.
Beginning in early fall in most climates and continuing all season, the flowers are daisy-shaped and very bright. They make long-lasting cutflowers for the vase, so you just may have to plant an extra Bluebird or two to satisfy the butterflies as well as yourself! Long, smooth blue-green leaves up to 4 inches long are held below the clusters of flowers on vase-shaped plants 30 to 36 inches high and 24 to 30 inches wide.
Best in full sun and very well-drained soil, Bluebird appreciates a little pampering the first season, but is quite able to withstand dry soil and chilly autumn weather. Rely on it as a valuable source of late-season color! Zones 4-8.
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- Butterflies like a lot of sunlight, so locate your garden in a sunny area.
- If you live in a windy location, plant your butterfly-attracting plants near a building, fence, or hedge to protect them.
- Plant a variety of nectar-rich plants, as well as shrubs and evergreens for shelter.
- Since many butterflies and native flowering plants have co-evolved, try to put in some that are native to your area. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildlife Center provides lists of plants native to states and regions.
- Certain colors are particularly attracting to butterflies – red, yellow, pink, purple, or orange blooms that are clustered or flat-topped, with a short flower tubes are especially attractive to adult butterflies.
- Avoid using pesticides, especially around nectar-producing plants.
- Provide a shallow source of water – try a birdbath with pebbles lining the bowl.
- Place a rock in a sunny spot for butterfly basking and resting.
- Create a "puddling area" by digging a shallow hole filled with compost or manure where rainwater will collect and release essential salts and minerals.
- If you want butterflies to breed in your garden, put in some caterpillar food plants, such as parsley, milkweeds, asters, thistles, violets, clover, grasses, and Queen Anne’s Lace.
- Since butterflies need nectar throughout the entire adult phase of their lives, try to create a design that will allow for a continuous bloom – when one stops blooming, another starts.
Set A. x frikartii 15 to 18 inches apart, others 18 to 24 inches apart in sun. A. frikartii will also grow in light shade and has an exceptionally long blooming period that starts in summer. In general, asters prefer fertile soil, but will tolerate poor soils as well. Soil should also be well-drained, but take care to provide ample moisture, particularly in fall when plants are in bloom.
Pinch or even shear back several times during the early part of the growing season to promote vigorous, compact growth. Divide every 3 years or as necessary, replanting the younger, more vigorous pieces from the outside of the clump.
To control mildew naturally, avoid overhead watering, and plant away from hedges or fences to assure satisfactory air flow. If you must, a monthly spray with wettable sulfur will ensure mildew control.
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