Sky-blue Aster

Sky-blue Aster

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Symphyotrichum oolentangiense, 1/2-pint plug

Exposure: Sun-partial
Soil: Dry-medium
Height: 3'
Bloom: August-September-October

Notable Features: Sky Blue Aster has blue to blue-violet flowers. It is easy to grow and is drought tolerant. Blooming late summer to fall, it attracts butterflies and other beneficial insects such as small bees, flies, small to medium-sized butterflies, skippers, and wasps. Sky Blue Aster prefers full or partial sun and can grow in many different types of soil as long as it is well-drained. The leaves are smaller when heading upward along the stem, and are typically heart-shaped at the base.

Attracts: The nectar and pollen of the flowerheads attract bumblebees, digger bees (Melissodes spp.), leaf-cutting bees (Megachile spp.), Halictid bees (Agapostemon spp., Halictus spp., Lasioglossum spp.), Andrenid bees, Syrphid flies, bee flies (Bombyliidae), butterflies, skippers, miscellaneous beetles, and other insects. Bees that are specialist pollinators (oligoleges) of asters (Symphyotrichum spp.) include Andrena asteris, Andrena nubecula,Andrena simplex, Colletes simulans armatus, and Melissodes dentiventris. Other insects feed on the leaves, flowerheads, and other parts of asters. These species include larvae of the Aster Leafminer Fly (Calycomyza humeralis), larvae of the Papery Blister Gall Midge (Asteromyia laeviana), larvae of fruit flies, plant bugs, the Goldenrod Lace Bug (Corythucha marmorata), aphids (especially Uroleucon spp.), the Aster Leafhopper (Macrosteles fascifrons), Blatchley's Walkingstick (Manomera blatchleyi), and grasshoppers. In addition, larvae of the butterflies Silvery Checkerspot (Chlosyne nycteis) and Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos) feed on asters, as do larvae of the Aster Borer Moth (Carmenta corni), the Asteroid (Cucullia asteroides), and many other moths. Among birds, the Wild Turkey browses on the leaves and seeds of asters; the Tree Sparrow also eats the seeds during the winter.