This is one in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Community Favorites, 75 can't-fail, easy-care plants well-adapted to our region and recommended by local gardeners.
Aster x frikartii 'Monch'
Size: Under 2 feet tall
Bloom season: Summer, early fall
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Pruning needs: Little or none; cut stems back to ground in winter
Water needs: Once established, water deeply once a week
Snapshot: This easy-care hybrid aster, originally developed in the early 1920s by Karl Frikart in Switzerland, is a dependable garden star in Sacramento. Throughout the summer, this compact perennial is covered with 2-inch, lavender-blue daisylike flowers. As a cut flower, it makes beautiful bouquets. Butterflies love it, too. It grows in almost any kind of soil as long as it has good drainage. You can see specimens near the gazebo in the arboretum's teaching nursery on the UC Davis campus.
Why it's a favorite: "I love the big, showy flowers on this aster," said Emily Griswold, the arboretum's assistant director of horticulture. "Unlike the fall-blooming asters, this one pumps out flowers all summer long much to the delight of garden butterflies."
See a photo gallery of the Community Favorites online at www.sacbee.com/home_garden.