Thursday, July 13, 2006

Stokes Aster
Stokesia laevis ‘Blue Danube’
(sto-KEES-ee-uh LEE-viss)
Aster Family

This southeastern US native puts on a fine show this time of year. This is truly a perennial that comes back strong year after year. It is a low-maintenance, hardy (Zone 5) plant that does well in the front of the border. This is the only species in the genus.

This is the cultivar ‘Blue Danube’ and I have had good success with it. Part of the patch has now grown under some Cranberry Cotoneaster and the two plants seem to co-exist well together. It does look a bit odd when the top of the cotoneaster is a sheet of frilly blue. Seeding can be a slight nuisance, but I like it. I can’t understand why this plant isn’t more popular, although it is often grown commercially for cut flowers. It can grow in a slightly moist area and in part shade, two traits which make it a useful plant for me. It can also grow in sun and average soil. It doesn’t like wet feet in the winter!

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