Erigeron annuus, Annual Fleabane

Erigeron annuus

Annual Fleabane

  • Annual or Biennial
  • Average to slightly rich or slightly dry soils
  • Full sun to light shade
  • 24 to 48” tall, 12” to 24” wide 
  • Summer Blooming. Spring seeded plants often start to flower later and bloom into the fall.
  • Native to Ontario, Beginner friendly, Meadow to dry meadow or open woodland ecosystems

Annuals help heal systems after disturbance. They grow quickly, covering exposed soil, stabilizing it with their roots and holding on to soluble nutrients and physical particles that could otherwise be lost to erosion or leaching. They get the carbohydrates flowing back down to the soil biology and the supply of pollen, nectar and foliage growing for all the above grade species that rely on them.

They are the first-responders of the plant world.

They often wait in the soil for years, if not decades as dormant seeds. Abiding quietly until their particular gifts are needed and then responding in just days to begin to heal injuries to the landscape.

Often overlooked in the planning of native plant spaces, annuals are awesome at helping to kickstart the recovery of disturbed, depleted or compacted soils. They also have the underappreciated capacity to assist in the conversion of a space from invasive perennial species to a native (or at least non-invasive) ecosystem. After the first round of removal, many invasive species will bounce back and overwhelm newly planted perennials, resulting in a disheartening tangle of the species you were nurturing and the one you were trying to discourage. Alternatively, leaving a space unplanted can allow the invasive species to recolonize unopposed.

Planting with annuals adds some competition, keeps the soil biology fed and allows you to disturb the space in spring and/or fall to remove any invasive re-growth. A year or two of removal of the invasive regrowth and competition from annuals first and your new perennial ecosystem will stand a much better chance of success.

Which brings me to Annual Fleabane.

A showy, fast growing annual that will sometimes get a head start on the year by growing a rosette of leaves from seeds that find a space right after blowing away from their parent plant in mid summer and then grow up and bloom the following year as a biennial. Adaptability is definitely their style.

They can grow in rich or fairly lean soil, sandy of clay based. They do like their sunshine but can get by with half day shade, although they will be a bit prone to floppiness if they get less than 6 hours of direct sunshine.

They grow 2’ to 3’ tall and a foot or two wide, although I wouldn’t be surprised to see them get larger in a particularly rich, sunny setting.

They have a fairly long blooming season and, in a long summer like Ottawa had in 2021, they can finish up their first round of blooming and seeding then re-bloom in the late fall. Summer seeded plants, or seeds churned up through disturbance through the late spring or early summer, can also put on quite a fall show.

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The Online Plant Nursery will re-open for orders on Tuesday, May 17th

Pickups will begin the following week.

I will be offering plug sized plants for $1.25 each or 5 for $5. 

I'm in the process of adding species that I expect to offer this spring to the listings since they are starting to germinate and I'm starting to get an idea of which will be available in abundant quantities.

Since the list is much longer this year I've added several categories to help narrow down your options based on a variety of criteria.

For those who have already adopted seedlings, planting instructions can be found here.