How to Grow Stokesia — Stokes’ Aster

Stokes' aster
Stokes' aster, Stokesia laevis

 Stokesia — commonly called Stokes’ aster–bears cornflower or asterlike flowers from midsummer to early fall. The long-lasting, colorful, terminal flowerheads are solitary or produced in many-flowered corymbs. Flowers are good as cut flowers.

Each Stokesia blossom has a central button of small flowers, surrounded by a ring of larger ones. Flowerheads can be blue, purplish blue, or white.

Plant Stokesia in a warm position in a herbaceous border or grow Stokesia in pots.

Stokesia is a rugged and adaptable plant. It is native to the southeastern United States. There is just one species in the genus.

 Stokesia laevis
Stokesia laevis

Get to Know Stokesia 

  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 5 to 9 
  • Hardiness: Hardy to -20°F (-29°C)
  • Height and width: 18-24 inches (45.7-61cm) tall and 18 inches (45.7cm) wide 
  • Foliage: Much branched with stiff, erect stems 1.5-2 feet (.5-.6m) high. Rosettes of smooth, rounded, firm-textured, medium green leaves, 2-8 inches (5.1-20.3cm) long, sometimes toothed at the base, evergreen (to semi-evergreen in cold climates). Leafy, curved, finely toothed bracts surround tight flower buds. 
  • Flowers: 3-4 inches (7.6-10.2cm) cornflower type blooms that are light blue-, pink-, or white-flowers. Each blossom has a central button of small flowers surrounded by a ring of larger ones. Long-lasting cut flower.  
  • Bloom time: Midsummer to fall. 
  • Uses: Front border, good in pots, make long-lasting cut flowers, and attract butterflies.  
  • Garden companions: ‘Silver Brocade’ beach wormwood (Artemisia stelleriana) ‘Silver Brocade’) 
  • Common name: Stokes’ aster
  • Botanical name: Stokesia 
  • Family name: Asteraceae
  • Origin: Southeastern United States

Where to Plant Stokesia 

  • Plant Stokesia in full sun.  
  • Plant Stokesia in deep, light, moist, well-drained, fertile, slightly acidic soil.  
  • Poorly drained soil leads to crown rot or death.  

Stokesia Uses and Companions

  • Plant Stokesia in groups in the foreground of informal flower gardens.
  • Stokesia are good for cutting.
  • Good garden companions for Stokesia include Achillea, Coreopsis, Lychnis coronaria, Oenothera, Salvia, Stachys lanata.

When to Plant Stokesia 

  • Plant Stokesia seed in fall or early spring and it will bloom the first year. 
  • Set container-grown Stokesia in the garden in spring or autumn.
Stokes aster - botanical name - Stokesia laevis
Stokes aster – botanical name – Stokesia laevis

Planting and Spacing Stokesia 

  • Stokesia plants generally require staking.  

How to Water and Feed Stokesia 

  • Give Stokesia regular water.  
  • Fertilize Stokesia with an all-purpose organic fertilizer in spring.

How to Care for Stokesia 

  • Provide winter cover for Stokesia of evergreen boughs or straw in coldest regions.  
  • Deadheading Stokesia encourages plants to rebloom.  

Stokesia Pests and Diseases 

  • Stokesia can develop leaf spot.  
  • Stokesia is susceptible to attack by caterpillars.  

Stokesia Propagation 

  • Stokesia seeds germinate in 14 to 35 days at 70°F (21°C).
  • Divide Stokesia cultivars in spring.  
  • Propagate by dividing Stokesia clumps in spring or fall.
  • Propagate by root cuttings taken in late winter or early spring.  

Stokesia Varieties to Grow 

  • Stokesia laevis, Stokes’ Aster, A 1-2 feet (.3-.6m) tall species that form 1.5 foot (.5m) wide clumps. Bears 2-3 inches (5.1-7.6cm) wide flower heads with two rows of fringed ray florets, or “petals”, around fuzzy centers of disk florets. Flowers come in shades of violet-blue, pink, and white.  
  • Alba’ and ‘Silver Moon’, both white.  
  • ‘Bluestone’, medium blue, 10 inches (25.4cm) high, medium blue.  
  • ‘Blue Danube’, with large lavender-blue blooms over a long season. 12-15 inches (30.5-38.1cm) tall. Long bloom season, extending into winter in mildest climates.  
  • ‘Honeysong Purple’, with dark purple blooms on 1 foot (.3m) stems.  
  • ‘Klaus Jelitto’, light blue.  
  • ‘Omega Skyrocket’, with large blue flowers on 2-3 feet (.6-.9m) stems.  
  • ‘Silver Moon’, white.  
  • ‘Wyoming’, deep purple.  

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