The World’s Tiniest Flying Broomstick, or Collecting the Seeds of Stokes’ Aster

Okay, the title of this post should definitely be “Collecting the Seeds of Stokes’ Aster,” but I’ll be darned if this dead stem with tightly clustered seeds at the end doesn’t look like it belongs in the hand of an itty, bitty witch. Also, it’s almost Halloween, so bear with me.

Stokes’ Aster (Stokesia laevis) is a perennial, full-sun plant. It earns the nickname Colorwheel from the changing color of its blooms, a pale pink-purple that ages to a deep mauve.

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Stokes’ Aster (Stokesia laevis) blooms in late spring. I purchased this plant at the annual spring plant sale of the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

Even after it’s finished blooming, the foliage is quite nice. It did well in the scorching summer sun, and next year I’d like to cover a larger area with it. Though the plant should spread over time, I hope to speed things up by growing more plants from seed.

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Foliage of Stokes’ Aster

Collecting the seeds is pretty simple. The flowers leave behind a dry husk. Strip off the loose outer husk; then gently peel away the inner husk. What’s left is a cluster of seeds attached to a stem that looks like a tiny broomstick. (Note: I did not deadhead the blooms until late September; next year I will do it earlier to encourage more flowers.)

The seeds easily fall away from the stem with the brush of a hand. I’m storing mine in a paper envelope in a dry place until it’s time to sprout seeds. With a little luck and attentiveness, I’ll have many more Stokes’ Asters next year.