Nicole Stoner, Nebraska Extension Educator, provides a monthly feature on plants to consider for your acreage. This month Nicole will feature a good choice for fall color, Boltonia.
August is the time of the year many perennial flowers reach the end of their bloom period. However, there are some great perennial plants that just begin blooming at this time of the year. One of my favorites is Boltonia.
Boltonia, Boltonia asteroides, is also called White Doll’s Aster or False Aster. This is a large perennial plant that is in the aster plant family. This plant is closely related to asters, coneflowers, and coreopsis. All of the plants in this family have disk and ray flowers that make up the distinct aster-shaped flower. The photo of Boltonia on the left is from John Ruter, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org
Boltonia flowers are typically white, but there are varieties with a pink to purple colored flowers. The one-inch diameter flowers appear in August and last up until late September, making them a great fall plant. The plants grow up to 60 inches tall and 48 inches wide and make a nice mounded form. Plant stems stand upright to support the dense mass. The leaves, arranged alternately on the plant, are narrow, lanceolate-shaped and 3-5 inches long. Leaves are held sessile on the plant, meaning there is no petiole from the plant stem to the leaf base. Instead, the leaf is held directly onto the stem.
There are some great variety choices for Boltonia. ‘Snowbank’ is a compact plant growing only 3-4 feet tall and has more flowers than the straight species. A good choice for a pink selection would be ‘Pink Beauty’. Another good color choice would be the Jim Crockett false aster, which has lavender flowers with a yellow center. The photo of a flower of boltonia on the right is from F. D. Richards via Flickr Creative Commons License.
Boltonia is best planted in full to part sun in average to dry soils. It will tolerate drought conditions often faced in Nebraska in late summer. It is not a good plant for locations where water tends to stand or puddle as roots don’t perform well in too wet soil. Boltonia is often used as a background screen or a specimen plant. It is a good choice for butterfly gardens and for filling in bare spaces. This plant is a good choice for acreages since it is easily divided or cuttings can be taken to start new plants; making it a good choice to fill in a large acreage landscapes.
Boltonia flowers are a nectar source for butterflies, making them good pollinator plants. It is also a good choice for anyone who enjoys using flowers from their gardens to make dried floral arrangements because it holds together well.
August to late September does not have to be an ending to summer blooms as it is just the beginning for some plants, including Boltonia. Boltonia makes a beautiful mound of flowers in white, pink, and lavender, depending on the variety you choose. It is also a great plant for pollinators. So the next time you are looking for a late-blooming perennial, choose boltonia.