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I would like to save seeds from my double lavender asters, I would like them to be pure, but I do not know if they will pollinate with wild ones. The nearest wild patch is about 100' from the plant. Bees go to all of the flowers. Do they cross pollinate too much to make seed saving worthwhile?

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How much is too much? – Ed Staub Jan 24 '12 at 12:31
I doubt there's a useful answer to this - it will depend on the number of plants, the distance to the wild ones, etc. What's the chance the pollinating bee/whatever was last at another of your asters? – Ed Staub Jan 24 '12 at 16:43
I think the question you want to ask is: How much work is it to isolate my asters so that they won't cross with wild asters? -- Do they pollinate by wind or just by insects? If by insect only and you really want to save seed, you could isolate your plants (or a sub-population) so that insects can't pollinate them. Then hand pollinate or introduce pollinators to the cages. One drawback is that you'd have a cage around the plants while they're blooming. You'll also need to worry about population size for genetic diversity. – bstpierre Jan 24 '12 at 17:26
It would take two seasons, but you could also answer this by (a) hand pollinating one of yours with wild pollen and then growing out the resulting seeds and (b) collecting seed from yours that you've made no special effort to isolate and growing out the seeds. If (a) is true to the lavender, then you don't need to worry about crossing at all because they are not compatible. If (b) is true to the lavender, then you probably don't need to worry since no actual crossing occurred. – bstpierre Jan 24 '12 at 17:29
I do not want them to cross-pollinate. I want to know if they cross pollinate because I want pure seed, and the wild ones might ruin them. – J. Musser Jan 25 '12 at 2:07
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Generally, almost all members of Asteraceae (daisy family) are able to self-pollinate successfully and most species, including Asters, pollinate strictly by insects (A few species are pollinated abiotically, Ambrosia and Artemisia). You did not mention the color of the wild asters. Are they golden/yellow? If they are, you may be in luck. Some research has shown that the color of a flower is a predictor of when a flower will be pollinated. Lavender colors usually attract pollinators between September and October where as bright yellows attract between June and August (see bottom of page).

However asters do cross-pollinate (noted here under 'Propagation' and here under 'Faunal Associations'). So my best guess would be if the wild asters are similar in color (different shade of blue/purple) to your 'double lavender', you are out of luck. But if the wild asters are yellow/white/etc I would think they should be fine.

Good news: Some asters are perennial and propagate easily by division!

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