Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Bye Bye Bye, Boltonia

As I have decided not to regrow a seemingly marvelous particular perennial next year, or at the very least decided to move it out of my sight and out of mind, I believe that I at least owe the plant a parting blog. Oh Boltonia, my lovely, I just couldn't take any more.

I spent the late summer of 2012 driving to and fro near a fabulous specimen of this plant at the parking lot entrance to the KSU gardens.  Shining and thriving in the midst of the drought and 100° temperatures that August, it was unlabeled at the time, but I suspected its identity after running across it here and there in plant catalogues. I had long read about the drought tolerance and hardiness of this perennial, and I decided it was time to give it a try, especially since it was almost the only plant in flower during that fiery August.

Boltonia asteroides, the White Doll's Daisy, or False Aster, is a native perennial to this area of the country and the Eastern United States.   It is an erect plant, with blue-green foliage, growing from 12 to 60 inches tall according to references, and its cheery little daisy-face is always bright and happy just as a daisy-face should be.  Hardy to Zone 3, and blooming at the very best time for it to be noticed in the garden, alone in August and September, it is even listed as "clay tolerant."  What more could I ask for?

Well, I could have asked for it to grow less vigorously.  My Boltonia, planted in 2012 and having its first full season in 2013, became a rampaging monster, 6 feet tall and 4 or 5 feet wide, cascading and smothering every other plant in the vicinity, which included a struggling 'Dragon's Blood' rose and my beloved 'Vanguard'.  This, despite the lack of soil enhancements and without added water. Yes, the flowers are gorgeous close up, but farther away the plant just has the appearance of a white cloud.  And no reference ever suggested that it might need support, although I later learned that the Missouri Botanical Garden suggests cutting it back by 1/3rd in late spring to early summer to reduce plant height. 

Boltonia asteroides is a nice, dependable perennial, but I'm banishing it this year from my garden.  I might still give it a chance to survive among the tall grasses at the periphery of the garden, however. Borrowing lyrics from "Delilah," the classic hit by Tom Jones (a favorite crooner's of my mother's during my childhood),  I could also sing;  "My My My, Boltonia.  Why Why Why, Boltonia?  I could see that plant was no good for me. But I was lost like a slave that no man could free.  Forgive me, Boltonia, I just couldn't take any more." 

Unlike Sir Thomas John Woodward (Jones), though, women probably won't be throwing their hotel keys at me while I sing.  It's a pity, but gardening just has no star quality.


  1. Prof. I too succumbed to the beauty of Boltonia. As a cost savings, my Boltonias came as a pre-planned perennial garden from Bluestone Perennials. I planted it to the back of the border with an east exposure next to the house. The first year had the best performance, however by the third year it faded. Probably not enough sun exposure. I prefer heath aster.

  2. Oh gosh, it sounds like a beast that needs a lot of taming! Luckily it is a handsome beast so deserving of time and attention!


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