All of the native plant sales in my part of the country are about to kick off and you can bet your bottom dollar that I am going to hit up as many of these as humanly possible.
Each year around this time, I get out my pen and paper and do some serious Internet research to determine which native plants will be added to my always growing collection. This year will be no different and I’ll be sure to share my purchases with you.
Speaking of natives, I’d like to share the experience I’ve had to date with a native perennial purchased a few years ago … Boltonia asteroides (AKA False Aster) ‘Pink Beauty’:
I knew very little about this perennial before purchasing it other than the fact that it “tolerates wetness and clay soil”. That was all I had to hear. Actually, that is my #1 criteria when plant shopping and if the plant fits that criteria, I’m giving it a whirl.
After three years, I have to admit I’m still not totally sold on this plant and will tell you why.
But first, some nuggets of info:
- Size is typically 6′ x 3′ so it is an imposing perennial
- Survives in zones 4-9
- Prefers full sun (where I have it) and can handle partial shade but has potential to flop without full sun
- Blooms from August to September and that has been consistent for me the past 2-3 years
- The blooms (about 3/4″) have pale pink florets and a yellow center as seen up close in the photo below:
Now I have to admit, I’ve spent a good amount of time trying to confirm 100% that what I have is truly ‘Pink Beauty’ as this flower color looks more lavender/purple to me. After consulting with many other websites, I’m fairly confident I have it right, but the jury is still out.
Boltonia is one of the first perennials to emerge for me in spring and as mentioned previously, has survived with wet feet over the past two winters. While I have read that it is deer resistant, I have had it nibbled quite a bit in early spring:
But in a way that’s OK, because the “deer (rabbit) pruning” helps control the ultimate size come late summer. Two years ago, I left this plant untouched and unpruned and eventually it flopped heavily when in full bloom:
Last year, after the critters pruned for me, the ultimate size was a foot or so less but I still had some serious floppage. This year, I plan to cut it back by 1/3 to a 1/2 in mid to late June and we’ll see if that makes a bigger difference.
Even with the issue of flopping, I still love how this perennial looks as it is growing through spring and summer. It provides an airy quality that contrasts well with other perennials, grasses and shrubs. Here they are in early August (between the two grasses):
Soon after this, they start to develop flower buds:
I love this phase as the buds and few blooms add an ornamental quality without yet reaching the point of toppling over:
And even with the toppling over, from the right angles in early fall, this perennial still looks good with its neighbors:
I’ll make sure to document my more severe cutting back of my Boltonias in June and the subsequent results in late summer. Until then, I’ll rate this plant as a B-.
This guy only has room for B+ and better.
We’ll see …