Every fall, Chrysanthemum (aka Mum), the iconic flower of fall, finds its way to porches everywhere. While it does bring beauty and color next to our bright orange pumpkins and scarecrows, they don’t do much for the butterflies and pollinators that are looking for nectar to help fuel their journey.
Fortunately, there is a beautiful native alternative that is a perennial and will return year after year…Aster. They are easy plants to care for and do best in full sun to part shade, though there are some that even prefer shade. The flower is similar to the Mum and it comes in a variety of colors like purple, blue, pink, white, and red. There are lots of cultivars, so whether you want a short one that only grows a foot tall or a large one that is 6 feet tall, there’s an Aster for you!
Here are a few smaller varieties that are most similar in size to the beloved Mum and could easily replace them in your fall decorating this year:
Symphyotrichum novi-belgii ‘Purple Dome’- 18-24” tall, purple bloom, full sun to light shade
Symphyotrichum dumosum ‘Wood’s Blue’ – 12-16” tall, lavender blue flowers, full sun to light shade
If fall just doesn’t feel complete without your Mums, that’s okay! Consider simply adding a few Asters to your mix of Mums this year. After they bloom in the fall, you can plant it in the ground to return year after year.
To discover the other Asters that are native to Virginia, check out this list in the Digital Atlas of the Virginia Flora