Can you help identify this plant?

I found this perennial on sale, but it had no name. The stems are kind of woody and the foliage is compact. It's only about 1 1/2 ft. tall. It is starting to bloom now- will have lots of blooms- pretty purple flowers- about the size of a nickel- pretty small. Could it be bee balm or is it the aster? Thanks for your help!
can you identify this plant, flowers, gardening, woody stalk stem compact foliage purple flowers
woody stalk/stem; compact foliage; purple flowers
can you identify this plant, flowers, gardening, the flowers are small about the size of a nickel or a quarter
the flowers are small-about the size of a nickel or a quarter
  22 answers
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Jul 11, 2013
    It looks like there may have been some issue leading to the lower foliage being removed and it is now trying to grow back. I suspect the plant really should be full to the ground. It will help with the ID when you can provide a photo of the flower.

  • Shirley Shirley on Jul 11, 2013
    I'm not positive, but I think it might be a Dianthus.

  • Ivylore Ivylore on Jul 11, 2013
    Doug, you may be right since they were on sale. I will plant and when they flower, I'll take a photo and post again. Thanks for your help. Thanks Shirley, I guess it will be a mystery for a little bit longer :)

  • Ivylore Ivylore on Jul 11, 2013
    I will post again after it flowers to help w the identification.

  • Nancy Hand Nancy Hand on Jul 11, 2013
    I was thinking it was a dianthus or sweet williams

  • Ivylore Ivylore on Jul 11, 2013
    Hmm, thanks Nancy, can't wait to find out!

  • Susan Rattray Susan Rattray on Jul 12, 2013
    I don't know what it is but it's lovely.

  • Zettie Whitfill Zettie Whitfill on Jul 12, 2013
    I have some of these... I want to say they are mexican petunias. if so.. they don't like a lot of sun.... and they spread like crazy.. pretty purple flowers come up from time to time. I love them!

  • Lela Lela on Jul 12, 2013
    it looks similar to the Clustered Bell Flower I have in one of my gardens, but I've never seen it grown in a pot or trimmed at the bottom like that. here's a link, and I look forward to pictures when it blooms

  • Kim Kim on Jul 12, 2013
    The woody stem and leaves look very much like purple dome aster, which does have 1-1 1/2" purple flowers. If the plant is stressed or too crowded, the lower leaves often turn yellow and/or fall off.

  • Ivylore Ivylore on Jul 12, 2013
    Thanks Ladies for your comments- the mystery continues- it wants us to wait for the big "unveil" :) Can't wait to see what it will be!

  • Mikell Paulson Mikell Paulson on Jul 12, 2013
    Hardy aster!

  • Ivylore Ivylore on Jul 13, 2013
    Thanks, Mikell- if it is a hardy aster, I'll have to move them because from what I am reading, hardy asters are kind of like a shrub and are about 3 ft across? Really didn't want something like that, so I'll have to figure out where to plant them (I bought 2!) Thanks everyone for your help!

  • Dianne Ballesty Dianne Ballesty on Jul 14, 2013
    Looks like Sweet William (dianthus) to me, but I have never seen it with stems like that.

  • Ivylore Ivylore on Jul 14, 2013
    Thanks, Dianne, yes the stems are interesting. I'll post pictures once it has bloomed.

  • Mikell Paulson Mikell Paulson on Jul 16, 2013
    I have Hardy asters and they do not get big! But they are beautiful!

  • Luis Luis on Jul 16, 2013
    Irma the leaves and stems remind me of Mini Phlox the difference is Phlox die in the winter and come back in the springs unless you kept it indoors

  • Ivylore Ivylore on Jul 16, 2013
    Hi Luis, I think it is the hardy aster. The leaves and the stems are more compact and the stems are more woody. Can't wait till it blooms!

  • Ivylore Ivylore on Jul 27, 2013
    Hardy aster?- Here is the plant with some of the purple blooms- what do you think? Thanks

  • I think it is an Aster and in your climate it should stay under 2x2. You can also control it by keeping the plant trimmed until July so that it will fill out and bloom better. good luck!

  • Nancy Hand Nancy Hand on Jul 27, 2013
    I think its a Aster too!! :)

  • Ivylore Ivylore on Jul 27, 2013
    Great! Thanks Renee and Nancy--- aster it is, and I like that it will not get too big.