Symphyotrichum oblongifolium 'October Skies'

Tried and Trouble-free Recommended by 2 Professionals
Common Name: aromatic aster
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asteraceae
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: August to October
Bloom Description: Dark sky blue
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Ground Cover
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Fragrant
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Drought, Erosion, Clay Soil, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil

Culture

Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soil in full sun. Does well in sandy or clay soils. Generally tolerates poor soils and drought.

‘October Skies’ is reportedly bushier and less apt to spread than the species. Plants do not come true from seed, so consideration should be given to cutting back stems after flowering to prevent possible self-seeding.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Symphyotrichum oblongifolium, commonly called aromatic aster, is a Missouri native plant that typically occurs on limestone glades, slopes, prairies and dry open ground. A bushy, stiff, compact, low-growing plant with hairy stems. Typically grows 1-2' (infrequently to 3') tall and features small, daisy-like flowers (1" across) with violet blue rays and yellow center disks. Rigid, toothless, oblong, blue-green leaves (to 4" long) are, as the common name suggests, fragrant when crushed. Good cut flower. Attractive to butterflies.

Genus name comes from the Greek symph meaning coming together and trich meaning hair in possible reference to the flower anthers.

Specific epithet means with oblong leaves.

‘October Skies’ grows more compact than the species and features attractive deep sky blue flowers. Stems typically grow to 18” tall. Small, daisy-like flowers (to 1” across) with blue to blue-purple rays and yellow center disks bloom in profusion in fall. Sky color in October is reportedly a darker blue than at other times of the year, hence the cultivar name for this plant.

Problems

No known serious insect or disease problems. Susceptible to powdery mildew. Aster wilt may occur.

Garden Uses

Open shade gardens, native plant gardens or woodland gardens. Good for mass planting.