Last (But Not Least) Bloomer Makes A Spectacular Autumn Appearance
By Josephine Keeney and Becca Dickstein
What a magnet for all kinds of pollinators White mistflower is! Just at a time when most flowering plants are going to rest for the winter, this shrub explodes into gorgeous bloom that covers the entire plant. Try it as a substitute for non-native chrysanthemums. Its long-lasting, fuzzy white flowers attract hummingbirds, butterflies and other pollinators. It also makes a lovely edging plant or under-story shrub in a naturalized garden setting.
Bloom time is late October to early November, making it the last bloomer in the garden and a most delightful sight late in the season. The scent is intoxicating on warm days, attracting all the flying creatures in the neighborhood with the promise of sweet nectar. Bees, moths, butterflies and all kinds of bugs love it, some looking for nectar and others seeking a quick lunch. It is a lot of fun to watch them in action.
If the fragrance doesn’t win you over, the easy care of it will. A deciduous perennial woody shrub, White Mistflower is very easily propagated by cuttings in the spring, or semi-hardwood cuttings in the summer. It is a medium-sized shrub usually growing about 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide in North Texas, but is recorded as up to 6 feet tall and 6 feet wide.can reach 6 feet in height. Many gardeners prefer to cut it back by half in the dormant season. Heavy shearing promotes a bushier shape and more prolific blooming, because flowers appear only on new wood.
Although it is considered deciduous, in North Texas it may remain semi-evergreen during mild winters. Its light green, triangular-shaped leaves are 1 to 3 inches long.
A member of the Aster family, Ageratina havanensis, also known as shrubby boneset and thoroughwort, is native to the Edwards Plateau, Central, South and West Texas, as well as Mexico, Cuba, and the Bahamas. It prefers a sunny location but can live in partial shade, although it will bloom more profusely with more sun. It is cold and heat tolerant, not picky about soil types, tolerating both acidic and alkaline soils, and even does well with poor drainage. Like many Texas natives, fragrant white mistflower may need supplemental water during its first growing season. After it is established, it should survive with existing rainfall.
Needless to say, White mistflower deserves to have a prominent place in every garden so more people — and especially all the pollinators can enjoy it.
Native companion species include fall aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium, formerly Aster oblongifolius), autumn sage (Salvia greggii), Lindheimer’s muhly (Muhlenbergia lindheimeri) and gayfeather (Liatris mucronata) all of which also have spectacular blooms in the autumn.
Read more about White mistflower:
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Look for the NICE! (Natives Instead of Common Exotics!), Plant of the Season, and Plant of the Month signs on your next visit to Marshall Grain. And thank you for using native plants in your landscapes.
JOSEPHINE KEENEY is Plant Sale Coordinator for the North Central Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas. BECCA DICKSTEIN, a member of the Trinity Forks Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas, is on the University of North Texas biological sciences faculty.
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