Exploring the Beauty and Characteristics of the Calico Aster: A Delightful Wildflower with a Multitude of Colors


Calico Aster, also known as Aster lateriflorus, is a quick-growing perennial plant that is highly recommended for any landscape. This stunning flower produces small, daisy-like blooms with pinkish petals that attract butterflies and other pollinators. It is a self-sowing plant, meaning that once it is established, it will produce seedlings that will continue to grow year after year. Calico Aster can reach a height of 1 to 3 feet and prefers full sunlight. It is commonly found in the eastern and central regions of the United States.

Calico Aster has a unique and interesting history. It was originally found in Minnesota and has since become widely distributed throughout the country. This plant has major disk florets surrounded by phyllaries, which are linear and arranged in a horizontal fashion. The disk florets are white in color, while the phyllaries are pale pinkish-white. The combination of these colors creates a lovely contrast that is sure to catch the eye.

Calico Aster is not a picky plant and can thrive in a variety of soil conditions. It can tolerate poor soil and is often used in prairie restoration projects. In addition to its beauty, this flower also plays a crucial role in the ecosystem as it provides food and nectar for butterflies and other insects. Calico Aster is known to attract a wide range of butterfly species, including the well-known Monarch butterfly.

When it comes to caring for Calico Aster, there are few important tips to keep in mind. This plant is low-maintenance and requires minimal care once established. It is recommended to plant Calico Aster in the fall, as it prefers cooler temperatures. The plant should be placed in a location that receives ample sunlight throughout the day. Regular watering is necessary, especially during dry spells. Deadheading the blooms can help promote new growth and prevent the plant from self-sowing too much.

How to Grow and Care for Calico Aster in the Late Summer to Fall Garden

Calico Aster, also known as Symphyotrichum lateriflorum, is a lovely perennial flower that adds a splash of color to the late summer and fall garden. With its rosy-pink petals and yellow centers, this flower is a favorite among gardeners looking to add some impact to their landscaping.

When growing Calico Aster, it is important to select a suitable location. This flower prefers full sunlight, although it can tolerate partial shade. The soil should be moist and well-drained to ensure proper growth and cultivation.

Calico Aster can grow to a height of about 1 to 3 feet and has a spread of about 1 to 2 feet. The stems are hairy and the leaves are lance-shaped with veins that curve upwards. The flowering period for Calico Aster is from late summer to fall.

To plant Calico Aster, prepare the ground by removing any weeds or other unwanted plants. Dig a hole that is about twice the size of the root ball and place the plant in the hole. Firmly press down the soil around the plant to ensure it is secure.

Water the newly planted Calico Aster thoroughly and add a layer of mulch around the base of the plant. This will help retain moisture and suppress weeds.

Calico Aster is generally a low-maintenance plant, but it may require some care to ensure optimal growth. Regularly check the soil moisture levels and water accordingly. Avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot and other diseases.

In terms of fertilization, Calico Aster does not require much additional feeding. However, you can apply a slow-release fertilizer in the spring to provide some nutrients to the plant.

To prevent the spread of diseases, ensure good airflow around the plants by spacing them adequately. It is also important to remove any dead or diseased leaves or flowers promptly.

In colder climates, Calico Aster may experience frost damage. To protect the plant, you can apply a layer of mulch or straw around the base in late fall.

Calico Aster attracts butterflies and bees, making it a great addition to any pollinator garden. It is also a host plant for the callandrena bee species. The aromatic blooms of Calico Aster add a pleasant scent to the garden.

In conclusion, growing and caring for Calico Aster is a rewarding experience. With its vibrant colors and attractive shape, this flower can enhance the beauty of any garden. Follow these instructions to ensure the best condition for the plant, and enjoy the lovely blooms that will brighten up your late summer to fall garden.

Comments and Questions

  • Andrey: What are some other varieties of Symphyotrichum?
  • Grows: Can Calico Aster tolerate colder temperatures?

What You’ll Learn

In this section, you will learn about the various aspects of the Calico Aster plant. You will discover how this plant can thrive in different soil types, such as loam or black soil. You will also learn about its unique side-flowering nature, which sets it apart from other wildflowers.

We will guide you through the simple steps to grow and care for the Calico Aster. You will learn about the soft nectar-filled petals that attract butterflies and bees. Additionally, we will explore the importance of the white plant foliage and how it can help attract even more pollinators to your garden.

Furthermore, you will discover the stunning flowerhead of the Calico Aster and its vibrant colors. We will delve into the history of this plant, including its connection to Native American Indians and its established presence in central and eastern regions of the United States.

You will also gain valuable knowledge about the growth and maintenance of the Calico Aster. We will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to properly care for this plant and ensure its healthy blooming. We’ll discuss the ideal weather conditions, fertilizer, and watering requirements, as well as any potential pests or diseases to watch out for.

Moreover, you will learn about the symbiotic relationship between the Calico Aster and pollinators, such as bees and beetles. You will explore the intricate details of the flower, including its phyllaries, disks, and veins. We’ll delve into the usda seed services and how they play a vital role in ensuring the availability and preservation of this stunning plant.

Ultimately, this comprehensive guide will equip you with all the necessary knowledge to grow and appreciate the beauty of the Calico Aster. So, let’s dive in and discover all that this captivating plant has to offer!

Cultivation and History

If you’re looking to grow the Calico Aster in your garden, you’ll be happy to learn that it is widely available and relatively easy to cultivate. Follow our tips and instructions to help you manage this beautiful plant with long stems and aromatic foliage.

The Calico Aster, also known by its botanical name Symphyotrichum lateriflorum, is a native species of the United States. It can be found in many regions, from the East Coast to the central parts of the country. Its natural habitat includes woodlands, meadows, and roadsides.

In terms of cultivation, the Calico Aster is a low-maintenance plant. It prefers loam soil with good moisture, but it can tolerate a range of soil conditions. Make sure to provide it with enough sunlight, as it thrives in full sun or partial shade.

In the summer, the Calico Aster produces clusters of small, pinkish flowers with black veins. Each flower has five petals and is surrounded by phyllaries, which are leaf-like structures. The overall shape of the flower is reminiscent of a daisy.

One of the notable features of the Calico Aster is its hairy stems and foliage. This gives the plant a unique appearance and adds to its charm. The leaves are long and narrow, and they emit an aromatic scent when crushed. It is no wonder that this plant has been a favorite of gardeners for centuries.

In terms of its history, the Calico Aster has been cultivated for ornamental purposes since the 19th century. Its attractive blooms, easy care requirements, and ability to attract pollinators have made it a popular choice for flower beds and borders.

When it comes to attracting pollinators, the Calico Aster is a real prince in the garden. Bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects are drawn to its nectar-rich flowers. By planting this aster, you’ll be doing your part to support pollinators and provide them with a much-needed food source.

If you’re interested in adding the Calico Aster to your garden, you have a variety of varieties to choose from. Some popular ones include the ‘Lady in Black’, ‘Prince’, and ‘Blue Lagoon’. Each variety has its own unique features, from the color of the blooms to the size and shape of the plant.

So why not visit your local nursery or garden center and pick up a Calico Aster for your garden? You won’t be disappointed with its beautiful blooms and easy care requirements. And don’t forget to share your photos with us to show off your gardening skills!

By following these cultivation instructions and caring for your Calico Aster, you can enjoy its rosy-pink flowers and attractive foliage throughout the summer. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, this plant is sure to add a touch of natural beauty to your outdoor space.


Calico Aster can be easily propagated through both seeds and stem cuttings. Here are some methods to propagate this beautiful wildflower:

  • Seeds: Collect seeds from mature plants in late summer or early fall. The seeds are small and black in color. Sow the seeds in well-drained soil in a sunny or partially shaded location. Cover the seeds lightly with a thin layer of soil. Water regularly to keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged. The seeds will germinate in about 1-2 weeks. Thin the seedlings so that they have enough space to grow.
  • Stem Cuttings: Take stem cuttings in early spring or late fall. Cut 6-8 inches long stems that have a few leaves. Remove the lower leaves, keeping only a few on the top. Dip the cut end of the stem in a rooting hormone and plant it in a pot filled with a mix of potting soil and sand. Water the cutting thoroughly and place it in a location with indirect sunlight. Keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged. The cutting will develop roots in 2-3 weeks.

Calico Aster doesn’t have any specific requirements for soil, but it grows best in loam or sandy soil that is rich in organic matter. It can tolerate poor soil conditions and is known to grow in both moist and dry habitats. The plant can spread through self-sowing, so it is important to remove the spent flowers to prevent it from becoming invasive.

The plant blooms from late summer to early fall, producing small flowers around 1 inch in diameter. Each flower has soft pink to lavender petals with yellow disks in the center. The blooms attract butterflies and other pollinators, making it a perfect addition to any butterfly garden. The foliage is linear and the stems are thin and black. The plant grows up to 2-3 feet in height and spreads about 1-2 feet in width. The leaves and stems have a bushy and compact shape, providing a nice contrast to the delicate flowers.

Calico Aster is widely used in landscaping and restoration projects, as it is a low-maintenance plant that can thrive in various conditions. It is often used in informal and natural gardens, as well as in woodlands and meadows. The plant is also found in the wild, particularly in the central and eastern parts of North America. In cultivation, it requires full sun to partial shade and good airflow to prevent the foliage from developing diseases. It is relatively pest-free, although it may attract some common garden pests like aphids or caterpillars. Closely monitoring the plant and taking appropriate actions can help mitigate any pest issues.

To encourage more flowering and prevent self-sowing, deadhead the spent flowers regularly. To learn more about Calico Aster and how to grow it, you can visit gardening websites or consult with local gardening experts. They can provide valuable tips and share their experiences with this beautiful wildflower.

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.