OUTDOOR JOURNAL by Kyle Carroll
Hummingbirds are all but gone and the Monarchs are not far behind them. Acorns are falling and there is a chill in the night air. In fact, the calendar has flipped to October. Fall is officially here. Except for a few of our potted plants, most flowers have bloomed and produced seed by now. There are a few fall flowers that wait until the last days before frost to bloom and add color to the fall landscape. Maximilian Sunflowers nod in the fall breezes now and some golden rods put on a pretty good show as well, but my favorite fall wildflower is the New England Aster. According to the Grow Native website;
“Each head is about 1 1/2 inches across with more than 40 bright purple, petal-like ray flowers surrounding a yellow disk. Flowers also may be pinkish purple or pale lavender. Found on wet prairies and in moist open fields or road ditches, it does well in moist sites. Easily spreads from seed into favorable sites. Seed is commonly available and often used in seed mixes. It is one of the last native wildflowers to bloom in the fall and is an excellent nectar source for butterflies and other insects.”
It makes a good addition to your wildflower plantings because it blooms so late. It gives you the opportunity to have something blooming pretty much all summer. It's especially appreciated by late migrating Monarch butterflies. It transplants easily, or you can simply collect some seed, store it in an envelope in a cool dry place until February and sow it where you want to start a patch. I crop my plants in the flower bed a couple of times each summer to keep the height down and increase the number of blooms. Remember to not trim them after August 15.
It also makes a good cut flower. Grab your scissors and clip some for a late vase of fall flowers on your kitchen table.