Climbing Aster (Aster carolinianus aka Symphyotrichum carolinianum)
The climbing aster is one of many asters in Florida. In fact there are 440 different asters in Florida with 331 of them identified as native plants! The climbing aster is really a spectacular flowering plant. This aster was planted in the UF/IFAS Extension Demo Garden December 2020 and looked to be a garden sleeper. But, come this fall, this aster came alive with a showy display of the light purple “head flowers or composite flowers.” As a member of the daisy family (Asteracaea), the climbing aster has two types of flowers – ray flowers on the outside where each “petal” is a flower, and the disc flowers in the center.
The climbing aster can grow to 12 feet tall and up to 2-4 feet wide. It tolerates a range of drought to wet conditions, and prefers full sun. Although, in the demo garden, climbing aster grows in the mottled shade of the pines. This climbing native plant attracts both birds and pollinators. In fact, the late flowers are visited by bees as they are collecting their resources to carry them through the colder winter. This aster fits within USDA hardiness zones in Florida from zone 8 to 10b.
To learn more about many other flowers that compose the Asteracaea (Daisy Family), visit UF/IFAS Extension Gardening Solutions at https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/plants/ornamentals/asters.html. You can also check out the climbing aster and other plants in the Florida-Friendly Guide to Plant Selection and Landscape Design at https://ffl.ifas.ufl.edu/media/fflifasufledu/docs/FYN_Plant_Selection_Guide_2015.pdf.
Visit the UF/IFAS Extension Demonstration Garden Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm, except for national holidays, at 7620 SR 471, Bushnell, FL 33513. When you enter the Sumter County Fairgounds, drive to the back and park to enter the garden.