Wildflower Wednesday: Boltonia asteroides

If you're looking for a robust, fall bloomer that is a pollinator magnet, then plant this showy perennial. Boltonia asteroides unveiled its first tiny blooms in mid-September and by early October it was a mass of blooms.

Common names include white doll's daisy, false aster, and false chamomile. This plant is where you can find the biggest variety of pollinators in our garden come early fall. From a pollinator's perspective, pollen and nectar are easy to access on the flower heads, making for an easy meal. I love that I can walk out my front door and see a sea of tiny daisy like flowers alive with bees, butterflies and various other insects.

Let's take a closer look at whose visiting.

Painted Lady butterflies, whose numbers seem to be at a record high this fall, feast on the nectar. These are particularly shy butterflies for every time I walk by or get in close to photograph them they flutter up and away, only to land further out of my eye's (camera's) reach.

Skipper butterflies are about the same size as the flower heads and adore the blooms. If it weren't for their bright coloring they'd blend into the crowd.

fiery skipper

Another small butterfly, the red-banded hairstreak can also be found frequently visiting during the warmer times of day.

Red-banded hairstreak butterfly

Several diurnal moths call on the blooms. Scape moths, a diurnal moth, that based on my observation in our garden, are particularly attracted to small white blooms, rattlesnake master being one of their summer favorites.

Scape Moth
Ailanthus webworm moth

Various flies who seek nectar, prefer the open packed flowers Boltonia asteroides provides. They are especially attracted to white and yellow blooms.

European honey bees frantically move from bloom to bloom. It sounds like a very lively hive when I walk by this native beauty as they busily collect pollen on their hind legs. One of my neighbor's must have a bee hive nearby and I am happy to provide a fall nectar source for them.

Various native bees are also busy at work. The easily accessible nectar is especially good for the smaller bees. Bumble bees are the largest bees frequenting the flowers.

Several wasps species can also bee found hanging around. Not especially efficient pollinators because they lack hairy bodies but they have high-energy needs and must refuel frequently.

Red paper wasp

Potter's wasp

With all the pollinators parading around the flowers, it's not surprising to see several spiders set up to catch a meal. They always seem to know just were to hang their web, don't they?

I caught this garden [writing] spider taking a break from her web one early morning.Usually I see her hanging in the center of her web patiently waiting.

It wasn't long after I took this photo that she captured her first bee of the day and quickly wrapped it in a silk cocoon.

This plant is clearly one for the pollinators. It grows about 3 to 5 feet tall, so be sure you have proper space when planting. Honestly, I didn't realize it would get as big and bushy as it has, and from a landscape perspective I probably planted it in the wrong spot. This vigorous grower does make a great border plant and also naturalizes well, so it would look right at home in a cottage or native plant garden or meadow situation.

The daisy-like flowers are less than an inch wide but are in such mass it makes a very showy statement, even from a far. According to books, it prefers full sun (or partial shade) and wet to moist conditions. However, in our garden it currently grows in full sun on the south facing side of our home. I wouldn't describe the soil as moist and I haven't provided any supplemental water during our dry, hot fall and it has performed outstandingly.

It's critical to continue to support pollinators well into the fall and this is a great all around plant for just that. I have really enjoyed finding all the insects that are using this native perennial.

I'm joining Gail over at Clay and Limestone for her monthly Wildflower Wednesday meme. Be sure to check out all the other great wildflowers from around the globe. 


  1. Wow, Karin! This is a pollinator magnet. Your photos are delightful and show clearing that this plant has a great deal of wildlife value! I have got to move mine to a sunnier spot!
    Happy WW. xogail

    1. Thanks for hosting a great meme Gail! Love reading and learning about native plants in other gardens! Many which have inspired me to add them to my garden.

  2. Look at all those fun visitors to your Boltonia! It looks wonderful as a mounded "shrub" near your entryway. I tried to grow this in the dappled shade--believe it or not the low light wasn't what did it in--it was the rabbits! I think I'll try it again in my next garden. Wonderful plant!

    1. Oh no! The rabbits haven't touched ours. Maybe it's too close to the house and out in the open for them to nibble on it. Or could be the dogs barking at the front door.

  3. I love this plant, though my sunny spots are limited. Maybe I will find a spot one day for this pollinator magnet.

    1. It would look pretty along the lake bank, behind your colorful chairs!

  4. Really wonderful photos of the flowers with butterflies, moths, bees, and spiders!
    Hope you are having a great week!

    1. Thanks Lea! We're enjoying our fall weather! Love gardening in the cooler temperatures~

  5. That is a whole lot of pollinator diversity and the mound of blooms looks incredible! I agree - there are so few blooms around at this time of year (comparatively speaking) for pollinators. I'm even leaving some of my broccoli to flower as I noticed the bees enjoying the blooms from a few forgotten shoots.

    1. I let the plants in the kitchen garden bolt too. Do you collect seeds from them and plant next year?

    2. It takes quite a while for most things to go from flower to harvestable seed and normally I need to plant up something else or it's too late in the season for the seed to fully ripen. One of these days I plan to purposefully grow veg just for seed saving. At this point, I only save seed from a few herbs and legumes - you know, the easy stuff ;)

  6. Love all your butterfly pictures, especially the fiery skipper. I have some wild Boltonia growing in the back garden, the pollinators do love it.

    1. Nice! I may see if I can get some seeds from this one and grow in a shadier spot and see how it does.


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One of my favorite things about blogging is the conversation with readers. Leave a comment and let's get talking. ~Karin

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