Late Nectar Source for Migrating Monarch Butterflies and More
Symphyotrichum novae-angliae common names: Aster novae-angliae, Fall aster, New England aster, Purple aster, thick-leaved aster
New England Aster Plant Specs
- Perennial: USDA hardiness zones 3-8 (lows -40 °C or -40 °F)
- Native Plant: Most of United States and Canada (Al, Ar, Co, Ct, De, DC, Ga, Ia, Il, In, Ks, Ky, Ma, Md, Me, Mi, Mn, Mo, Ms, Mt, Ne, NC, ND, NH, NJ, NM, NY, Oh, Ok, Or, Pa, Ri, SC, SD, Tn, Ut, Vt, Va, Wa, WV, Wi, Wy, BC, MB, NB, NS, ON, QC
- Full sun to light shade
- Prefers moist, well draining, rich soils but can grow in a variety of soil conditions including clay soil
- Height: 4-6 feet
- Spacing: 2 to 3 ft
- Flowers: dish-shaped violet to purple flowers with contrasting yellow centers, but also has variations in pink or white
- Lanceolate Shape Leaves: long and narrow tapering to a point, green, visible midrib
- Blooms late summer to early fall: Late August-October
- Shorter varieties include Purple Dome and September Ruby
Symphyotrichum novae-angliae Pros
- Top Native Plants during late monarch migration
- Long lasting blooms – bursting blooms for up to 6 weeks
- Height makes it easy to view butterflies feeding
- Large flowers are showier than other small aster flowers
- Host and Nectar Plant for Pearl Crescent Butterfly
- Pest, deer, and disease resistant
Symphyotrichum novae-angliae Cons
- Doesn’t bloom until late summer, but worth the wait
- Tall stalks can require staking
- Spring planted seeds and small plants won’t flower first year
- Monarchs are often harassed by the bounty of bees on these plants and get pushed off flowers. By planting Mexican sunflower close by, monarchs can nectar in peace
New England Aster Plant Propagation
- Sow seeds directly outside in fall- November is a good option for most regions
- Start seeds indoors before final frost
- Sow seeds directly after final frost
- Root Cuttings in spring or fall- insert stem cuttings into well-draining medium like perlite, vermiculite, or potting soil. Keep soil moist and in indirect light or under grow lights. Rooting typically take a few weeks
- Divide plants in spring…fall division could be too late for transplants
- Winter sowing is a good option for controlling plant placement
Symphyotrichum novae-angliae Growing Tips
- Prune early in the season to encourage bushier plant growth. Pruning August and later will sacrifice aster flowers
- Once your asters eclipse 4 feet, use stakes and plant support clips to keep the stalks from flopping over, allowing you to better see the butterfly and bee feeding frenzy.
- Symphyotrichum novae-angliae can be planted/divided in spring or fall…we recommend spring due to the ultra-late bloom time.
- Once established, you can add plants through division and seeding.
- Cut Stems back- grow bushier plants that won’t require staking. Cut stems back 1/3 to 1/2 earlier in the season (not past mid-July) to avoid cutting off fall blooms.
Besides monarchs, new england asters are popular with black swallowtails, bumble bees, honey bees, moths, painted lady butterfly, pearl crescent, red admirals, sulphur butterflies
Please comment below if you’ve seen other butterflies sipping nectar from New England asters. This type of info is rarely listed by those with first-hand experience, so your input can help others make the best decisions for their precious garden space.
If you have monarchs in your area or just traveling through, this native aster rates as a must-plant to support the monarch migration and other late pollinators.
Buy Symphyotrichum novae-angliae Plant and Seeds
Always purchase seeds and plants by botanical (scientific) name. if you simply search for aster flowers, that could mislead you to purchase the wrong plant. place plant orders through the following links:
- Symphyotrichum novae-angliae Plants and Seeds from JB
- New England Asters from Etsy
Looking for alternative purple-blooming nectar plants? Try…
- 7 Purple Butterfly Flowers
Find More Purple Flower Favorites on our Butterfly Plants Page
New England Asters in your butterfly garden: