Symphyotrichum subspicatum. This BC native wildflower is found in nearly every part of the province, from Haida Gwaii to the Southern Interior, and south well into Washington and Oregon. Douglas Aster is a perennial that is hardy in Zones 5 to 9, and can reach as tall as 1m (3'). Its slightly hairy grey foliage and stems are hardly noticeable for most of the summer, but then it goes into bloom around mid August, continuing into September. This late season bloom time provides essential nectar to insects at a time when many other flowering plants are shutting down for the winter. This deer resistant plant spreads very gradually by underground rhizomes, and its seeds are slow to germinate, so it will not get out of hand. Pinch the stems to encourage branching, and deadhead spent flowers for a longer bloom period.
Douglas Asters are somewhat inconspicuous plants until they burst into bloom at the end of summer. This perennial is an important food source for skipper butterflies and many other late season pollinators.
Season & Zone
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Hardiness: Hardy to Zone 5
Timing: Sow indoors 5-6 weeks before transplanting after the last frost date. Or simply direct sow in spring. Seeds can be slow to germinate, so be patient.
Seeding: Barely cover the seeds, and keep soil moist until plants are established.
Growing: Grow in full sun to light shade, in fertile, moist soil. The plants spread very slowly by underground rhizomes. Clumps can be split up and replanted every 2-3 years. Although the plants are drought tolerant, they thrive in full sun in moist conditions.