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Aster ericoides 'Snow Flurry'

Snow Flurry heath aster

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Aster ericoides ‘Snow Flurry’ has a unique compact spreading habit. Plants form a ground cover with low arching stems clothed in pubescent gray-green leaves.  This aster cultivar thrives in sun and adapts to most soils.  In early autumn plants produce frothy white flower panicles that draw the eye and beckon to a bevy of butterflies and other pollinators.

HABITAT & HARDINESS:  The parent species Aster ericoides is native from Quebec to Manitoba and south from Maine to Alabama and west to North Dakota and Arizona.  The species occurs in prairies, savannas, limestone glades, dry rocky woods, pastures and railroad or roadside right-of-ways.

‘Snow Flurry’ is an older aster variety with unknown origins.  The cultivar is said to have been introduced into the United Kingdom from the United States in 1983 by English garden designer and author, Beth Chatto.  It is uncertain where Chatto obtained this form.

Plants are hardy from USDA Zones 3-9.

PLANT DESCRIPTION:   Aster ericoides ‘Snow Flurry’ is a prostrate selection of the 3’ tall native Aster ericoides.  ‘Snow Flurry’ forms a low dense carpet or groundcover. 

Leaves are stiff and linear. Those on the flowering stems are tiny and needlelike giving the plant the appearance of heather or of a ground cover juniper.

In early autumn plants are topped by dense sprays of small daisy-like heads.  Each is about ½” across with 12 or so white rays surrounding a cluster of golden disc florets.

The heads are borne in profusion and are followed by small seeds with tufts of white hairs that float away on the wind.

Plants grow 6-8” tall with 2-4’ spread.

CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDSAster ericoides ‘Snow Flurry’ flourishes in sunny sites with average to dry soils.

Plants tolerate part sun, drought, clay, gravelly or shallow rocky soils, moderate salinity and alkaline pH.  They are fairly pest resistant but young leaves may be nibbled by deer, livestock or rabbits.

This perennial is robust and long lived unless it is shaded or crowded out by taller more aggressive companions. 

LANDSCAPE USES:  The unique mat-like habit of Aster ericoides ‘Snow Flurry’ allows it to serve as a Groundcover, Edging for a garden path or as an Accent for a Rock Garden.  The cultivar is useful in Containers, at the front of a Perennial Border or atop a low wall.   Plants provide Showy Flowers and Butterfly Nectar in Cottage Gardens, Water-wise Landscapes and Low Maintenance Plantings.

COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS:  Try pairing Aster ericoides ‘Snow Flurry’ with Echinacea purpurea, Asclepias tuberosa, Penstemon digitalis, Liatris aspera, Silene regia, Solidago speciosa or Andropogon gerardii.

The parent species Aster ericoides could be a worthy replacement if a taller plant (to 3’) is acceptable.  Phlox stolonifera ‘Bruce’s White’ could provide similar habit and flower color to a shaded site.

TRIVIA:  Flowers attract long-tongued bees, short-tongued bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, skippers and moths. 

In 1998 this cultivar received the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.

Aster ericoides ‘Snow Flurry’ was one of seven asters to receive the highest five-star rating in the Chicago Botanic Garden Aster Evaluation Trial.  The top rated asters had “… consistently strong habits, superior flower production, excellent disease resistance, and full winter hardiness throughout a six-year evaluation term.”


Height:

6-8 Inches

Spread:

2-4 feet

USDA Hardiness Zone:

3-9

Bloom Color:

White

Aster ericoides 'Snow Flurry' Characteristics

Exposure

  • Full Sun to Partial Shade

Critter Resistance

  • Deer Resistant

Attracts Wildlife

  • Butterflies
  • Pollinators

Groundcover Foot-Traffic Tolerances

  • Light

Soil Moisture Preference

  • Dry to Moist

Attributes

  • Favorite
  • East-Coast Native
  • Drought Tolerant
  • Cut Flower
  • Rock Garden
  • Clay Soil
  • Naturalizing
  • Interesting Foliage

Flowering Months

  • October
  • September

Foliage Color

  • Green

Season of Interest (Foliage)

  • Fall
  • Summer
  • Spring

Juglans nigra Tolerance (Black Walnut)

  • Yes

Salt Tolerance

  • Medium

Interesting Notes:

Flowers attract long-tongued bees, short-tongued bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, skippers and moths. 

 

In 1998 this cultivar received the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.

 

Aster ericoides ‘Snow Flurry’ was one of seven asters to receive the highest five-star rating in the Chicago Botanic Garden Aster Evaluation Trial.  The top rated asters had “… consistently strong habits, superior flower production, excellent disease resistance, and full winter hardiness throughout a six-year evaluation term.”


Plants that work well with Aster ericoides 'Snow Flurry'

Green-headed coneflower Green-headed coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata)
Canadian goldenrod Canadian goldenrod (Solidago canadensis 'Crown of Rays')
Purple coneflower Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
Butterfly weed Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Beard tongue Beard tongue (Penstemon digitalis)
Royal Catchfly Royal Catchfly (Silene regia)

Substitutions for Aster ericoides 'Snow Flurry'

Creeping goldenrod Creeping goldenrod (Solidago sphacelata 'Golden Fleece')
Creeping phlox Creeping phlox (Phlox stolonifera 'Bruce's White')