Stokes’ aster or Stokesia (Stokesia laevis) is a Florida native that is extremely easy to grow. This evergreen perennial makes a wonderful border plant and you will enjoy the daisy-like flowers that stand above the ground-hugging leaves during summer. The flowers provide pollen and nectar for butterflies and bees and when planted in masses, will pack a punch of color to the landscape.
Many cultivars are available with flower colors in various shades of blue, pink, white, and yellow. The flowers of the ‘Color Wheel’ cultivar change color from white to blue to purple as they mature.
Stokes’ aster is cold hardy in zones 8 to 11 where plants grow quickly to 1 to 2 feet tall and wide. Mature plants form clumps which can be divided to yield new plants. Plant in full sun or partial shade, at least 18 to 24 inches apart. Preferring sandy, acidic soil, Stokes’ aster is very drought tolerant once established, requiring irrigation only during times of drought. The spent flower heads can be removed as desired.
A general purpose, slow-release fertilizer application in spring should be sufficient for adequate growth through the season. Like most plants, maintaining a 2- to 3- inch layer of organic mulch is beneficial to retain soil moisture and reduce weed competition. Insect and disease problems are rare.
For additional information on this plant and cultivar selections, see Stokes’ Aster.