Aster Cordifolius: A Beautiful and Hardy Perennial for Your Garden
If you are looking for a low-maintenance, attractive and beneficial plant for your garden, you might want to consider aster cordifolius, also known as blue wood aster or heartleaf aster. This herbaceous perennial is native to eastern and central North America, where it grows in a variety of habitats, from woodlands and meadows to stream banks and bluff bases. It produces clusters of daisy-like flowers with pale blue to rich blue rays and yellow centers, which bloom from late summer to fall and attract butterflies and other pollinators. It also has dark green, heart-shaped leaves that add texture and contrast to the garden.
How to Grow Aster Cordifolius
Aster cordifolius is easy to grow in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. It prefers moist, rich soils, but can tolerate drought and poor soils once established. It can grow up to 5 feet tall and 2 feet wide, depending on the variety and growing conditions. It may need staking or support if it becomes too tall or floppy. To keep the plant bushy and compact, you can pinch back the stems several times before mid-July. You can also deadhead the spent flowers to prevent unwanted self-seeding and prolong the blooming period. To prevent diseases such as powdery mildew, leaf spots and rust, make sure to provide good air circulation and avoid overhead watering. You can cut back the plant to the ground after flowering or leave some stems for winter interest and wildlife shelter. You can divide the plant every few years in spring or fall to rejuvenate it and propagate new plants.
How to Use Aster Cordifolius in Your Garden
Aster cordifolius is a versatile plant that can be used in various garden settings. It can be planted in open shade gardens, native plant gardens, cottage gardens or butterfly gardens. It can also be used as a border plant, a ground cover, a filler or an accent plant. It can be combined with other late-blooming perennials such as goldenrod, sedum, rudbeckia, echinacea or grasses. It can also be cut for fresh or dried arrangements.
Benefits of Aster Cordifolius
Aster cordifolius is not only a beautiful plant, but also a beneficial one. It provides nectar and pollen for butterflies, bees and other insects. It also serves as a host plant for some butterfly larvae, such as the pearl crescent and the checkerspot. It offers seeds for birds and small mammals in winter. It helps prevent soil erosion and improve soil quality with its deep roots. It is also resistant to deer and rabbits.
Aster cordifolius is a wonderful addition to any garden that needs color, texture and wildlife attraction. It is a hardy, adaptable and rewarding plant that will brighten up your landscape with its charming flowers.
Pests and Diseases of Aster Cordifolius
Aster cordifolius is generally a healthy and resilient plant, but it may occasionally suffer from some pests and diseases. Some of the common problems include:
Leaf and bud eelworms: These are microscopic worms that feed on the plant tissues and cause distorted leaves and buds. They can be controlled by removing and destroying infected plants and avoiding planting asters in the same spot for several years.
Aphids: These are small, sap-sucking insects that cluster on the stems and leaves and may transmit viral diseases. They can be washed off with a strong jet of water or sprayed with insecticidal soap or neem oil.
Slugs and snails: These are mollusks that feed on the foliage and flowers and leave slimy trails behind. They can be deterred by sprinkling diatomaceous earth, crushed eggshells or coffee grounds around the plants or using beer traps or copper barriers.
Fusarium wilt: This is a fungal disease that causes yellowing, wilting and dying of the leaves and stems. It can be prevented by improving soil drainage, avoiding overwatering and removing infected plants.
Powdery mildew: This is a fungal disease that causes white, powdery patches on the leaves and stems. It can be reduced by providing good air circulation, avoiding overhead watering and applying fungicides if necessary.
Leaf spots and grey mould: These are fungal diseases that cause brown or black spots on the leaves and grey, fuzzy growth on the flowers. They can be avoided by removing fallen leaves and debris, pruning out diseased parts and applying fungicides if needed.
Varieties of Aster Cordifolius
Aster cordifolius has several cultivars that vary in size, color and habit. Some of the popular ones include:
‘Avondale’: This is a compact variety that grows up to 2 feet tall and wide. It has deep blue flowers with yellow centers.
‘Little Carlow’: This is a vigorous variety that grows up to 3 feet tall and wide. It has lavender-blue flowers with yellow centers.
‘Silver Spray’: This is a dwarf variety that grows up to 18 inches tall and wide. It has silvery-white flowers with yellow centers.
‘October Skies’: This is a low-growing variety that spreads up to 3 feet wide. It has sky-blue flowers with yellow centers.
‘Raydon’s Favorite’: This is a tall variety that grows up to 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide. It has bright purple-blue flowers with yellow centers.