Stoke's aster is a native American wildflower that resembles a China aster, originally found from South Carolina to Florida and Louisiana. It is surprisingly hardy as far north as Rochester, New York. It is named in honor of Dr. Jonathan Stokes, an English botanist.
Description of Stoke's aster: Leaves are alternate, spiny-toothed toward the base, with the upper leaves clasping the stem. Fluffy blue to lavender flowers are 2 to 5 inches across on well-branched, 1- to 2-foot stems. Stoke's aster ease of care: Easy.
How to grow Stoke's aster: Stokesias need full sun and a good, well-drained soil. New plants take a year or two to settle in before maximum bloom. They should be mulched in areas with bad winters and little snow cover. Remove spent blooms for flowers to continue blooming until September.
Propagating Stoke's aster: By seed or by division in spring.
Uses for Stoke's aster: Stokesias are very decorative flowers for the front of the bed or border. Plants can also be forced for winter bloom in the greenhouse. They are good cut flowers, and the seedpods are excellent in dried arrangements.
Stoke's aster related varieties: 'Alba' is the pure white form; 'Blue Danube' is blue; and 'Silver Moon' is icy white. 'Honeysong Purple' has dark violet flowers. 'Mary Gregory' is yellow flowered. 'Peachey' is free flowering and blue-violet.
Scientific name for Stoke's aster: Stokesia laevis