New England Aster Quick Facts:
Host plant to Pearl Crescent and Northern Crescent butterfly, nectar to many
Native to the majority of US
Hardy in USDA zones 3-8
Full to partial sun
Moist to medium moist soil, drought tolerant once established
Blue/purple flowers in the fall
2-6 feet tall
Space 1-2 feet apart
Seeds need 60 day cold stratification or sow in fall, 3-6 week germination
Divide every 2-3 years
New England Aster Plants for Butterfly Gardens
New England Aster plants (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae, formerly Aster novae-angliae) make a beautiful addition to butterfly gardens. When they are in full flower they can be quite stunning to both us and the butterflies! Many butterflies utilize these plants for fall nectar.
This aster is particularly attractive to the Pearl Crescent butterfly since they will lay their eggs on the plant to feed their caterpillars. These are one of the great garden plants that serve as both a host plant and a nectar plant for the butterflies.
New England asters are a US native. They are perennial and do not spread aggressively in the garden. They grow in clumps and will benefit from dividing every few years.
You will see these listed in many best-plant-lists for butterfly gardens, and for a good reason!