About Rice Button Aster: This notably adaptable species can be found growing wild in areas as diverse as sandy soil, open woods, bogs, or along roadsides. It grows most commonly throughout the southeastern region of the United States, though it can also be found along the shores of the Great Lakes; in some states, its increasing rarity has placed it on the threatened list. This species is a host plant for the Pearl Crescent butterfly. Originally from the Greek language, “aster” means “star.” At one time, asters were called starworts, frost flowers, or Michaelmas daisies; in spite of their daisy-like petals, asters are actually diminutive members of the sunflower family. In the language of flowers, these starry blossoms symbolize elegance or daintiness. They make a traditional gift for birthdays in the month of September, or for 20th wedding anniversaries.
Rice Button Aster Germination: Direct sow the seed in late fall, planting it just under the surface and watering it once. If direct sown in the spring, the seed must be stratified first by mixing it with moist sand and stored in the refrigerator for 30 days. To start the stratified seed indoors, sow it in a flat; keep the soil evenly moist and at a temperature of 65-70 degrees F until germination, which should take place within 2-4 weeks. Transplant the seedlings after the last frost of spring. Rice Button Asters prefer dry or sandy soil, but also adapt well to moist soil.
Growing Rice Button Aster Seeds: This plant tolerates drought well, but will thrive with occasional watering. Though it spreads over time, volunteer plants can easily be removed. Mature plants will benefit from division after two or three years of growth. These flowers attract bees and butterflies, especially Hairstreaks, Crescents, and Blues.
Harvesting Rice Button Aster: Asters make lovely cut flowers. Cut the stems long, choosing flowers that have just opened.
Saving Rice Button Aster Seeds: After flowering, the plant will produce seed heads containing small clusters of seed with white fluff. Since sparrows and goldfinches love to eat the seed, harvest it promptly to avoid loss. Cut the mature seed heads, or shake them into a container to remove the seed material. Clean the seed as well as possible, then store it in a cool, dry place.
Detailed Rice Button Aster Info: Origin: US Native Other Common Names: Bushy Aster Duration: Perennial Bloom Time: Fall Height: 24-36 inches Spacing: 18-24 inches Light: Full Sun Soil Moisture: Medium to Dry USDA Zone: 4a-8b Seeds Per Oz: 57,000 Produces a plant with a rosette of 4-5” leaves at the base, a branching stalk with 3” blade-like leaves, and ½” white to lavender flowers with yellow centers.