Q: I am seeing a very pretty purple wildflower growing along the roadside here in Northeast Florida, what is it?
A: I believe you are referring to the blue mist flower (possibly Conoclinium coelestinum), which is a common wildflower found throughout most of the eastern part of the United States to New York and Canada, westward to Texas. It prefers moist soil, tolerates sun to partial shade and is the perfect hiding site for small to medium birds and animals. Blue mist flower is a perennial which propagates by underground rhizomes as well as prolific number of seeds which makes it a difficult plant to keep in one area. The seeds are easily spread by wind and animals but a gardener with a keen eye can collect them before they spread to other areas. For those gardeners who do not mind a less fussy garden – this perennial is a wonderful addition. It looks very similar to annual ageratum but the flower color is more intense. The flowers are made up of a very pretty, purple-blue color but it has no rays (or petal-like structures). Blue mist flower grows to about 2-3 feet tall with abundant blooms appearing in the fall (late September to October). It will be somewhat shorter and less colorful if it does not receive sufficient water. With all the rain we have received this year, it is no wonder blue mist flower is in its full glory this fall. Its cold hardiness zone is 4-11.