Stokes Asters Flowers – Tips For Stokes Aster Care
By: Becca Badgett, Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden
Sustainable and xeric gardens benefit from the addition of the Stokes aster (Stokesia laevis). Care of this charming plant is minimal once the Stokes aster plant is established in the garden. You can grow Stokes asters for a burst of spring and summer color against a backdrop of evergreen shrubs and native foliage plants for a pleasing display.
Stokes Asters Flowers
Stokes aster flowers come in a range of pale and perky shades. The muted yellow cultivar ‘Mary Gregory’ may be combined with the shorter ‘Purple Parasol’ for compatible, long lasting color and frilly texture in the summer flower bed.
Stokes asters have flowers as big as 4 inches (10 cm.), with frilly petals and intricate centers. Stokes asters flowers bloom from late spring through summer in shades of silvery white, electric blue and rosy pink. The species is native to the southern United States and, depending on location, Stokes aster care may last for the entire summer.
How to Grow Stokes Asters
Grow Stokes aster plant in a sunny location in more northern areas. However, Stokes asters flowers offer longer bloom with protection from glaring afternoon sun in hotter places. Care for them includes keeping new plantings well watered after planting. Once established, growing Stokes asters are drought tolerant. Grow Stokes asters in slightly acidic, well-draining soil for the best performance from the Stokes aster plant.
The Stokes aster plant grows from 10 to 24 inches (25 to 61 cm.) tall and may be planted with other flowering native plants, such as blanket flower, for a summer show. Divide clumps of the stokes aster plant every three to four years for more perennial flowers. Stokes aster care should include the deadheading of spent blooms at the base of the stem. Some flower heads may be left on the plant to dry for seeds to grow Stokes asters for next year.
Now that you’ve learned the beauty of this plant and of how easy Stokes aster care can be, try planting this great native in your flower garden. It will multiply so that you have many more to place in your display in just a few years.
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How to Grow Stokes Aster From Seed
Stokes asters (Stokesia laevis) grow wild in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 10. This perennial produces 3- to 4-inch white, blue or purple ruffled blossoms all summer if deadheaded. Reaching 12 to 18 inches tall, this plant prefers dry growing conditions. Seeds develop after the flowers die and take two months to mature. This allows the asters to self-seed once established. Stokes asters grow flowers the first year if started indoors from seed.
Wash a seed tray with soapy water and rinse with a 10-percent bleach solution. Air-dry the seed tray before filling with soil mix. Start the seeds six to eight weeks before the last spring frost date. Fill the tray with commercial seed starter soil mix. Do not push the soil down.
Mist the soil mix with a spray bottle filled with room temperature water. Spread the seeds out evenly on top of the damp soil. Barely cover the seeds with soil, since the seeds need light to germinate. Mist the soil again and cover the tray with a piece of clear plastic wrap. This increases the humidity around the seeds while they germinate.
Place the tray in an area where temperatures range from 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the soil moist while the seeds are germinating. Germination stops if the soil is allowed to dry out. Most of the seeds will germinate in two to three weeks with the rest of the seedlings appearing within five weeks. Remove the plastic wrap when the first seedlings touch the plastic.
Transplant the seedlings into the garden after the last spring frost date. The seedlings are ready to transplant when they have at least two sets of true leaves. Plant the flowers in an area with full sun exposure and good-draining soil. Space them 12 to 15 inches apart.
Peachie's Pick Stokes Aster Care
Plant in full sun, although some light shade is tolerated, especially in hot humid summer regions. Well draining soil is a must as you will lose your plant if it sits in water, especially over the winter. It tolerates poor soil as well as average and fertile soil, and is just as versatile in terms of soil pH that it tolerates, growing in acidic to alkaline soils equally well. Water deeply at least one time a week, allowing it to dry out in between times. Feed with a slow release 10-20-10 application of fertilizer in the spring and water it in well. Deer and rabbits tend to not browse on Stokesia, but should they decide to, your perennial will likely survive and continue to thrive.
Deadheading will benefit your Peachie’s Pick Stokes’ Aster as it will stimulate repeat blooming. Blooming later than other varieties, Peachie’s Pick will bloom in June and July, and then repeat bloom in late summer, early fall before the frost. Pruning is not normally needed, but remove dead or yellowed stems to keep your plant clean and tidy. You will want to divide your perennial at least once every 3 years to keep it vigorous. Stokesia can reseed itself, but the resulting offspring may not grow true to its parent.
Answer #2 · Maple Tree's Answer · Hi Carol-There are a couple of things that can cause the buds to drop, dry up, or not develop. Insects such as Brooks mentioned along with aphids and leaf hoppers can damage flower buds. Powdery mildew can also affect the leaves and buds. Make sure there is no sign of insect damage such as holes in leaves, yellowing or curling of leaves. Check the underside of leaves good also for insects. If the foliage looks healthy and green we can rule out insect or fungal problems for now.
Too much or to little water can also damage flower buds, but it sounds as though your plant and others are doing well so this may not be the problem. The aster likes cool moist soil, not wet. A layer of mulch around the plants will help to keep the soil cool if the area is staying too dry and hot for the root system.
Too much or to heavy a fertilization can also hurt the developement of the flower buds. Especially fertilizers with a high nitrogen content. High nitrogen fertilizers such as those used for lawns and shrubery or very rich soil will produce large amounts of foliage and very few flowers. Many times lawn fertilizes will wash into flower beds from watering causing over fertiliztion of smaller flowering plants. You can limit your feeding to one dose of slow-acting fertilizer dose per season. Plants with lush foliage will eventually produce blooms if they are not fed again. A Fertilizer such as Osmokote will give the plants the nutrients they need slowly during the whole growing season. Other fertilizers such as Flower-tone are formulated for flowers with low nitrogen formulas (3-4-5).
This years temperature fluctuations in may areas have caused problems with blooming of many plants. Fluctuation in temperatures from warmer to cooler conditons can cause a slow down or stopping of developing flower buds. Some areas are still experiencing higher than normal late summer heat which will also slow or stop the developing of buds. Once the temperatures start to cool many of these plants will begin to develop their flower buds again.
If the plants foliage looks nice with no signs of insects, browning, or yellowing I am thinking the weather this year may be the problem. Keep the plants moist, hold back on any fertilization if you have been fertilizing already. Hopefully the cooler weather will produce some more flowering for you.
Diseases That Affect Asters
Just as asters are resistant to most pests, they also fare well against most plant diseases…save for one of the peskiest of all: powdery mildew.
The difference between downy mildew and powdery mildew. source
Powdery Mildew – This disease plagues gardeners around the world, whether they’re growing flowers or edible plants. The best way to prevent powdery mildew is to keep air circulation high and remove any leaves or plants that you spot the white, dusty powder on immediately as it spreads fast. Also trim your aster stems and rake around your plants to increase air circulation and remove organic matter that powdery mildew is prone to attack.
If your asters are already plagued by this annoying disease, there are many different treatments for powdery mildew. The best ones are potassium bicarbonate or food-grade hydrogen peroxide.