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What is an Erigeron Plant?

Learn more about the Erigeron plant including its characteristics, growing conditions, vital uses, and some of its species. We've included tips on how to grow these dainty ornamentals that are a perfect complement to any green space.

Beautiful light violet fleabane flowers of the erigeron plant growing at the ends of flower stems in the sun

Genus Erigeron

The genus erigeron is a very large genus of plants that are very closely related to the daisy family and the aster family. Only flower fanatics would really be able to tell the different between them!

The erigeron genus is comprised of over 170 flowering plant species with varying growth habits and flower colors, though they are all highly valued for their garden merit as a dainty flower that is wonderfully easy to maintain.

More commonly known as a fleabane, the plant got this nickname because folks traditionally believed that these plants could naturally repel fleas!

The scientific term, erigeron, is derived from two ancient Greek words. The first being eri, which translates to “early in the morning” and geron, which translates to “old man”. These terms are in reference to the early blooming season, and to the fuzzy appearance of erigeron seed.

Check out our huge list of Amazing Flowering Plant Species from all over the world once you’re done learning about the erigeron genus! There you will find succulents, ornamental grasses, and many more potential additions to your green space.

Related: Sun-Loving Flowers | Water-Loving Flowers | Shade-Loving Flowers | Types of Flowers | Types of Flowers by Color | Types of Flowers by Alphabet | Types of Flower Colors

Beautiful ray florets of pink and white of the fleabane plant in erigeron plant genus growing in a cluster

What do Erigeron Plants Look Like?

Depending on the species, an erigeron plant can grow to be an annual (experiencing its entire life cycle within one year), biennial (experiencing its entire life cycle with two years), or perennial (will continue to blossom year after year).

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Flowers

Erigeron flowers have a classic daisy-like appearance, with many narrow flower petals surrounding a large center disc, more commonly known as ray florets.

The center disc is usually yellow, and flower petals can be anywhere from white to yellow, pink to lavender, and there are some species that even change color as they mature.

These flowers are super attractors to pollinators and other beneficial insects. The native bees of your area will thank you! They bloom in early spring and remain in bloom well into autumn.

Seed heads are small and a light brown color and have several thin hairs at one end of the seed, similar to tails. This helps the seed with both wind and water dispersal.

Close up shot of white ray florets of the fleabane or erigeron plant with blurred green background

Leaves

The leaf shape, size, and growth pattern will vary depending on the erigeron variety as well. Erigeron basal leaves will usually exhibit a oblanceolate shape, whereas higher leaves will exhibit more of an elliptic shape. Certain leaves will also have coarse margins.

Growth Pattern

The overall form of an erigeron plant will greatly vary from species to species. There are some species that live in the alpine that will be a few inched ground cover plant, whereas others can grow to be almost a metre tall.

Erigerons will usually have many branched, erect standing stems that grow from a long and slender taproot. Stem leaves will occur either as just basal leaves, or they will grow all along the stem.

What are Some Erigeron Species?

Mexican Fleabane (Erigeron Karvinskianus)

White and pink mexican fleabane flowers growing out of the crack of a stone wall in the sunshine

The Mexican fleabane (or Santa Barbara daisy, as known in the United States) is a very quickly spreading evergreen perennial plant.

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This prolific bloomer can be found popping flower heads in the most unusual places, like wall crevices and in cracks in sidewalks.

The Mexican fleabane will first bloom as a white flower, but it turns into a different color as it matures; usually a soft shade of yellow, pink, or purple.

Seaside Daisy (Erigeron Glaucus)

Wild seaside daisies of light purple with large center disks growing on a rock wall by the coast

The seaside daisy can be found growing wild in well drained sandy soils along coastlines and large water bodies. They’re a wonderful perennial sunny border garden plant.

This variety only grows to be about 4 inches in height, and the lanceolate shaped leaves give off an attractive balsam scent when crushed. Lavender flowers have bright yellow center discs.

Robin’s Plantain (Erigeron Pulchellus)

Spent flower heads of robin's plantain fleabane flowers with fuzzy seeds blowing away in the wind

Robin’s plantain, blue spring daisy, or hairy fleabane, is a species of erigeron that can be found growing wild in rich woodlands and fields, and along streams and rivers.

This variety grows to be between 12 and 18 inches in height, and long slender stems rise from dark green basal leaves. Flowers can be either blue, lavender, or white with yellow center discs.

What are Erigeron Species Native to?

Erigeron plants are a native species to both the continental United States and temperate regions of Canada. They can be found growing wild in temperate climates all around the world as well, in USDA growing zones 4 through 7.

When growing wild, they will often be found growing in dry mountainous areas, grasslands, large pastures and other open spaces, and are very common roadside plants.

Wild eregeron flowers of white and pink growing on a sunny hillside

How do you Propagate an Erigeron Plant?

Erigeron plants just want to grow. They are very easy to propagate and very easy to maintain as well. They are not very specific about their requirements, and surely any gardener can incorporate them into their garden.

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The easiest way to start your own erigeron patch is through sowing seed. Start your seeds in a cold frame in mid spring or late spring, or simply scatter them in a stoned or paved area on your property.

Seedlings will be ready for transplantation once they are about 3 or 4 inches tall. The next step is choosing their permanent home!

Pick a Spot

Sometimes the trickiest part of planting is picking the right spot for your garden specimen. Pick an area on your property that receives full sun exposure and well drained soil.

If soil isn’t particularly well drained, simply incorporate some sandy loam or some compost. Both of these will improve drainage and also improve soil quality!

Maintain

Erigeron plants are remarkably low maintenance. Though younger plants require moist soil, once they are well established they are completely drought tolerant.

Wonderful shrub-like cluster of fleabane flowers of white and pink growing out the side of a rock wall

What are the Growing Conditions of Erigeron?

Soil Type

Erigeron plants can tolerate nearly any soil type as long as it is well drained. They prefer to exist in rich soil that is incorporated with plenty of organic compost. A clay soil type will be far too dense for the plant to succeed.

Water Level

Though young plants require consistently moist soil, mature plants are entirely drought tolerant. Natural precipitation should be more than sufficient to keep it happy.

Sun Exposure

Erigeron plants thrive in full sun conditions – meaning that they receive a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight per day, though they are tolerant to light shade. Partial shade in the afternoon can be helpful during hot summers to help prevent leaf scorch.

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Temperature

Cold hardiness is one of the reasons why erigerons are such a popular garden plant. Once they’re planted in the ground, they will keep popping back up no matter how bitter the winter was. They can easily survive in USDA growing zones 4 through 7.

Focus image of light violet eregeron flowers with bright yellow center disks and ray florets

Fertilizer

Though not entirely necessary, using fertilizer on an erigeron plant can help boost their growing season, and can help promote a second blossom after they have been deadheaded.

Only provide nitrogen, liquid fertilizer during the plant’s growing season, mostly in the spring and early summer.

Pruning

An erigeron flower head can be deadheaded to promote a second blossom. Otherwise, trim the flower stems all the way down to the ground in autumn after the season is over. They will sprout back up enthusiastically into an erigeron meadow the following spring.

Intolerances

At the end of the day, there really isn’t all that much erigeron can’t handle. Even if they are totally forgotten about, there’s a solid chance that they’ll barely notice

But in an effort to keep our green friends as happy as possible, simply remember that they require well drained soil (flood intolerant) and that they receive full sun exposure (shade intolerant).

Bright white erigeron ray florets with yellow centers growing amongst green grass

How is Erigeron Used?

Ornamental Plant

First and foremost, erigerons are used for their garden merit. They are often planted to compliment a cottage garden look, as a rock garden accent plant, and make a wonderful addition to a seaside garden.

Every cultivar can be planted as a border plant at the base of shrubs, hydrangeas, or other tall garden specimens. Incorporating an erigeron specimen will surely turn your green space into a butterfly garden.

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Wildlife Ecology

Erigeron foliage and flowers are a very important source of food for the larvae of certain lepidopteran species (moth and butterfly). This is turn is helpful for the plant, as these are beneficial pollinators who will later help the species proliferate.

Medicinal Plant

The flower petals of an erigeron plant can be processed and made into an essential oil for its anti inflammatory properties that can help with joint pain and muscle pain.

Stunning garden erigeron plant with violet flowers and yellow center discs growing at the end of long flower stems

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