Beautiful, flat-topped clusters of delicate, fuzzy, powder-blue flowers bloom from late summer into fall, often lasting until first frost, providing a great source of late-season nectar for a variety of butterflies, bees, and moths. It thrives in a variety of soil types, although it needs consistent moisture until well established. Considered a weed in some parts of the country, this annual ageratum look-alike (another common name is “hardy ageratum”) spreads vigorously by rhizomes, but it’s easy to quickly pull out if need be. It’s a host plant to 21 butterflies and moths, including the lined ruby tiger moth.
In the wild, it grows on edges of woods, along stream banks, and in wet meadows and ditches. Keeping in mind its aggressive spreading habit, use it in borders, around ponds (unless spreading roots will compete with other plants), in rain gardens, or in larger areas where it can really take off. Cut back taller plants in spring to prevent flopping and add a layer of mulch to retain moisture.
Grows 2-3’ tall and 1-3’ wide.
Grows in full or part sun and dappled shade.
Grows in moist acidic or neutral loam, sand, or clay but tolerates drier soils.
Masses of violet-blue flowerheads with tiny florets and long styles bloom from July-November.
Green, triangular, toothed leaves are attached to purplish stems.
Host plant to 13 specialist moths, including Eastern tailed-blue, hackberry emperor, American snout (all 3 pictured here in order), and aster flowerhead caterpillar. It provides abundant nectar for monarchs, swallowtails, queens, soldiers, pearl crascents, white peacocks, little yellows, and many other butterflies. Attracts native bees and skippers.
Medicinal, Edible, and Other Uses:
It has been used to treat colds and coughs.
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