Botanical Name: Symphyotrichum georgianum
Common Name: Georgia Aster
Description: This is another of Florida’s beautiful native asters. I’m telling ya, the bloom color on this is stunning. It’s a deeper purple than the other asters I have in stock. This is a perennial, so it will die back in the winter, then pop back up in the spring.
Georgia aster’s flowers are distinguishable from other Symphyotrichum species by their relatively large size (up to 2 inches in diameter) and deep violet-colored ray petals. They bloom in October and November and are a magnet for bees, butterflies, songbirds, and small mammals. In Florida, the plant occurs only in Leon County and is a state-listed threatened species. It is also found in a few counties in Alabama, Georgia and North and South Carolina. Habitat loss and fire suppression in its native pineland and savanna ecosystems have contributed significantly to its decline.
Georgia aster’s flowers are composed of up to two dozen bluish-purple ray florets surrounding a dense center of white to lavender disc florets that turn reddish-purple or tan as they mature. Flowerheads are cupped in a whorl of hairy, linear– to lance-shaped bracts. The plant’s leaves are dark green, oblong to lanceolate and thick with a rough surface. They may be sessile or clasping. Leaf margins are entire and tend to be revolute. Basal leaves are spatulate to obovate with entire or serrated margins. Stems are woody. Fruits are specialized achenes called cypselae.
Its natural habitat is in dry, well-drained, acidic, sandy or clay soils. It likes a sun to part sun area in your garden. It’ll quickly grow 1-3′ tall. Most Georgia aster plants are self-sterile and need cross-pollination from another colony to produce fertile seed, so its main mode of reproduction is by spreading underground rhizomes. It is very drought tolerant after becoming established.
Members of the genus Symphyotrichum support the following specialized bees: Andrena (Callandrena s.l.) asteris, Andrena (Callandrena s.l.) asteroides, Andrena (Cnemidandrena) hirticincta, Andrena (Cnemidandrena) nubecula, Andrena (Callandrena s.l.) placata, Andrena (Callandrena s.l.) simplex, and Colletes simulans.
Low to no tolerance for salt wind, soil, or water.
This plant in 1-gallon containers is 8-15″ tall.
Plant Lore: Members of the Symphyotrichum genus were once classified in the genus Aster, which contained over 600 species. All have since been reclassified into 10 different genera. The genus name Symphyotrichum is from the Greek sýmphysis, meaning “growing together,” and thríx, or “hair.” It refers to a basal ring of hairs or bristles (pappi) thought to occur on New England aster (Aster novi-belgii, now Symphyotrichum novi-belgii); however, this characteristic is absent in most modern Symphyotrichum species.
Florida Hardiness Zones 8 – 9a