The Nebraska Statewide Arboretum puts out its Great Plants for the Great Plains each year. In 2019, they selected Aromatic Aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium) as its perennial of the year. This shrubby type aster is a wonderful addition to the garden or landscape. The native aromatic aster can be found across the Great Plains, Midwest and in isolated locations along the East Coast.
Aromatic aster grows naturally along rocky outcrops, dry soils, and in areas of high limestone. It is drought tolerant, but may lose its lower leaves when dry. Aromatic aster prefers full sun may do fine in part sun with at least 6 hours of sun. In my own front garden it receives about 6 hours of sun and is a blooming powerhouse.
Asters in general are hosts to a wide variety of moths including geometers, owlets, tiger moths, and more. They are also the host for the Silvery Checkerspot Butterfly, one of our more common small butterflies. Bees, flies, wasps, and other pollinators utilize the flowers.
While there are several cultivars of aromatic aster, ‘Raydon’s Favorite’ is my favorite. It blooms late in September and into October, adding color when there is little else. It can be used in borders, pollinator gardens, rock gardens, cottage gardens, and Monarch waystations. Try some aromatic aster in your garden.