FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Aster umbellatus is an upright perennial with narrowly oval leaves. In late summer flat topped clusters of starry white daisies top the plant and entice butterflies and other pollinators. Plants grow best in sunny exposures with moist sandy soil.
HABITAT & HARDINESS: The range of Aster umbellatus extends through most of the Eastern United States with the exception of Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas and Missouri.
Plants thrive in wet sandy sites including prairies, meadows, open woods, thickets, bogs, marshes, savannas, creek banks and seeps. This aster is often found in high quality wetlands with sandy alkaline soils.
Plants are hardy from USDA Zones 3-8.
PLANT DESCRIPTION: Aster umbellatus is a short bushy perennial with clean disease free foliage.
Plants have no basal leaves. The stem leaves are oval and smooth with a fringe of hairs around the edge.
Flat topped branched flower clusters appear in summer earlier than those of other asters and continue until fall. The flower heads are composed of a ring of widely spaced white petal-like ray flowers surrounding a central cluster of yellow to creamy disc flowers. The flowers are retained for weeks after peak bloom developing a soothing greenish color.
Flower heads are frequented by bees and butterflies.
Plants grow 2-5’ tall with 2-4’ spread.
CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDS: Aster umbellatus grows and flowers in sun to part shade and in average to moist soil.
Plants are pest resistant and somewhat unpalatable to deer and rabbits.
This aster self-seeds slowly and spreads a bit more rapidly from underground rhizomes. If seeding is an issue, deadhead plants after flowering. Divide plants regularly or they will become crowded and die out in the center.
Aster umbellatus is drought tolerant and somewhat unpalatable to deer and rabbits.
LANDSCAPE USES: This is a good choice for a Wildlife Garden or Wet Meadow. Plants are also used as Butterfly Nectar Plants, Butterfly Host Plants or as part of a Grouping or Mass Planting. Aster umbellatus has Showy Blooms and can be used in Cottage Gardens, Deer Resistant Plantings, Low Maintenance Plantings, Perennial Borders, Shade Gardens. Roadsides and Restoration Projects.
COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS: Try pairing Aster umbellatus with Asclepias incarnata, Phlox pilosa, Eupatorium maculatum, Rudbeckia hirta and Panicum virgatum.
Aster divaricatus has similar height and flower arrangement and can be substituted in shady sites.
TRIVIA: Many of the established Latin names of Aster spp. were changed recently due to DNA and genetic research findings. So Aster umbellatus is now known as Doellingeria umbellata. The reason this aster was assigned to the Doellingeria genus is related to the hair lengths of its clustered seedheads or achenes.
Plants host caterpillars of the Pearl Crescent Butterfly, Silvery Checkerspot Butterfly and several species of moths.
Received high ratings in a 2006 evaluation of “Asters for the Mid-Atlantic Region” at Mt. Cuba Center near Wilmington, Delaware. This species was praised for its early bloom time, showy flowers, long blooming season, healthy foliage, pest resistance and ease of culture.
AKA Doellingeria umbeliata
For more information on this plant, visit the USDA PLANTS Database:http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=DOUMU