Late-Season Stars: Your Complete Aster Flower Guide

Late-Season Stars: Your Complete Aster Flower Guide : Brightly glowing asters adorn your autumnal garden. Find out all you need to know about them, such as the best varieties of asters for flowers and suggestions for growing them.

 

Late-Season Stars: Your Complete Aster Flower Guide 

 

Aster Flower Benefits

Most gardens welcome a burst of brilliant color come fall. As the Greek word for “star” in their name suggests, asters are accomplished performers. They brighten drab beds with a stunning display of pink, purple, blue, and white blooms. Some of these wildflowers are native to North America, which makes them a wise choice for any setting because they are widely available and simple to grow.

 

Asters, which grow to heights of 6 feet and widths of 1 to 4 feet, are popular because they are resistant to deer and relatively trouble-free, according to Evan Santi, owner of Urban Plantscapes, a company that serves the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and New York City regions. “If you look at the structure of the flower, they are related to sunflowers and chrysanthemums and have that same look,” adds Evan. Evan continues, “Asters attract a flurry of wildlife to their symphony of color, in addition to offering gardeners stunning blooms.”

 

 

Plenty of Aster Varieties to Grow

The herbaceous perennial Asteraceae includes North American asters. You can find heath, calico, fragrant, smooth, wood, and the two most popular asters, New York and New England.

 

Evan advises folks to go with the locals because they’re gorgeous. “They provide pollen and nectar in late fall and early winter, which bees and other wildlife lack.”

 

New England asters are hardy to Zones 3–8, while New York ones are Zones 4–8. Both have star-shaped bloom clusters. They look alike yet are distinct. New York asters (Symphyotrichum novi-belgii) have thin stems and smooth leaves and grow 2–3 feet tall. New England asters (S. novae-angliae) have robust stems, hairy leaves, and denser blooms at 3–4 feet.

 

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Aster Flower Care

Most asters can grow in a variety of soils and can be planted year-round. Evan believes native asters need little fertilizer. He suggests using the same fertilizer as the rest of your garden. The swamp aster (S. puniceum) thrives in wet soil, while established asters only need water under extreme heat and drought.

Full sun helps asters grow strong stems. While some types tolerate part shade, they bloom less. Powdery mildew and rust can harm asters, so plant in well-draining, air-circulated soil. Each spring, add compost around plant bases and mulch to maintain moisture and inhibit weeds.

 

Evan suggests staking asters over 3 feet tall at the start of the season to prevent them from falling. To increase aster blooms, pinch the tops in late June. This encourages branching and makes the plant shorter and bushier, extending flowering. Because there are so many stems, Evan says it takes time, but “you’ll get that big splash at the end.”

Display asters and other late-summer bloomers. Taller asters add late-fall color to daisies and daylilies. Shorter ones stand out near low-growing geraniums. Evan: “I like the way asters look with Joe Pye weed, purple coneflower, blazing star, yarrow and goldenrod. Asters create a layer look in front of ornamental grasses, he says.

 

 

Fall Garden To-Do’s

Extant asters take little care. Leaving them standing helps birds and wildlife. Trim wasted asters to avoid seedlings. Many asters self-seed. Asters can be propagated every three to four years if they become out of control.

 

Evan adds certain asters grow from rhizomes and can be divided in the off-season. He advises uprooting the plant and cutting off the outside areas, including many shoots and roots. Then transplant immediately.

 

 

5 Aster Flower Varieties to Try

Add a pop to the garden with these New England aster picks

  • Alma Potschke
  • Harrington’s Pink
  • Hella Lacy
  • Purple Dome
  • September Ruby

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