Good for meadows, bird and butterflies, and use as a landscape ornamental. Aromatic aster is drought tolerant.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Aster oblongifolius ‘October Skies’ is a low mounding perennial. A multitude of starry sky blue daisies appear in early autumn and clothe plants for about two months. Robust plants are tough and adaptable prospering in sun and drought. This cultivar has a bluer flower color, shorter height and denser growth than the species.
HABITAT & HARDINESS: Aster oblongifolus is native to dry prairies and rocky slopes in the Central and Eastern United States.
The cultivar ‘October Skies’ is a nursery selection from Pennsylvania’s Primrose Path Nursery.
Plants are hardy from USDA Zones 5-8.
PLANT DESCRIPTION: Aster oblongifolius ‘October Skies’ is densely branched and spreading. Plants form low mounding colonies from underground rhizomes.
Leaves are oblong and up to 4” long. Like most asters, leaves are much smaller and narrower on the upper stems.
Flower heads consist of many blue-purple ray flowers surrounding a cluster of golden disc flowers. The ray hue is often compared to the color of the autumn sky. Plants are clothed in a profusion of blossoms for a long period in fall. The prolific flowers are large, showy and attractive to bees, skippers and butterflies.
Plants grow up to 15” tall with 30” spread.
CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDS: Aster oblongifolius ‘October Skies’ grows best in full sun but will tolerate partly shaded areas that have at least a half day of sun. If planted with aggressive taller plants, this aster will decline.
Plants thrive in average to dry conditions and adapt to drought, clay, alkaline and poor rocky soils.
Foliage is somewhat unpalatable to deer and rabbits but occasional nibbling does occur.
LANDSCAPE USES: This is a particularly showy aster that can be used in traditional gardens as a sustainable substitute for fall chrysanthemums. It is a good choice for a Wildlife Garden, Groundcover or Edging. Plants are also used as Butterfly Nectar Plants, Cut Flowers or as part of a Grouping or Mass Planting. Aster oblongifolius ‘October Skies’ has Showy Blooms and can be used in Cottage Gardens, Deer Resistant Plantings, Water-wise Landscapes, Low Maintenance Plantings or Perennial Borders.
COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS: Try pairing Aster oblongifolius ‘October Skies’ with Rudbeckia subtomentosa, Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’, Amsonia hubrichtii or Bouteloua curtipendula.
Aster oblongifolius or Aster oblongifolius ‘Raydon’s Favorite’ can be substituted if a taller plant is appropriate for the site. Aster novae-angliae ‘Purple Dome’ has similar height and flower color.
TRIVIA: Many of the established Latin names of Aster spp. were changed recently due to DNA and genetic research findings. So Aster oblongifolius ‘October Skies’ is now known as Symphyotrichum oblongifolium ‘October Skies’.
Plants host caterpillars of the Silvery Checkerspot Butterflies and of several moths.
This member of the Aster Family has a head or composite flower. The daisy-like head looks like a single flower. The golden flower center, though, is made up of 30 to 40 tiny tubular disc flowers. The 20 or more sky blue “petals are actually individual ray flowers. So one ‘October Skies’ head is composed of at least 50 flowers.
AKA Symphyotrichum o. 'October Skies'