What is an aster flower?

When you think of pretty autumn plants, mums automatically come to mind. But there’s another fall-blooming perennial that your garden needs. Asters, a hardy plant that comes in shades of blue, lavender, pink, and purple, start blooming around the same time as mums when everything else in the garden is looking a little tired and shaggy. “They’re a beautiful alternative or companion to mums,” says Jan Boonstra Pavlinak, horticulturalist and help desk expert with Bluestone Perennials. “They’re pretty easygoing flowers, pollinators love them, and their colors are complementary to many other fall-blooming plants.”

Here’s how to grow these eye-catching but lesser-known fall flowers:

What kinds of asters should you plant?

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Asters can be planted in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 8 (check your zone here). They come in a variety of heights, ranging from 12 inches to 4 feet, so they work either in the back or front of borders depending on size. They may be tall and stately, or some varieties have a more mounded shape. Asters need full sun, which is at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. With too much shade, they get leggy and floppy. Asters usually bloom for weeks from early to late fall.

Varieties to try:

  • Bluebird (beautiful blue tall variety)
  • October Skies (very late bloomer)
  • Alma Potschke (bright, red-pink fringed flowers)

Where can I buy asters?

Many nurseries sell them in the fall, though your choice of varieties may be limited. If you want to plant asters in spring, online retailers have a wider selection. Spring planting also ensures they’ll get established in the ground in time to survive the winter, though they’re not too fussy and will often return next year even if you don’t plant them until early fall.

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When should I plant asters?

Asters that are planted in your garden in the spring will bloom in the fall. For late-season planting, you can purchase them already in bloom for fall color. They’ll more than likely return next year, as long as you get them in the ground about six to eight weeks before the ground freezes in your area.

How do I plant asters?

Dig a hole slightly larger than the pot, and plant at the same depth that the plant is in the pot. Fill the hole with compost, and water it well. Keep it watered if you’re having a hot, dry spell, which sometimes occurs in autumn. But don’t overdo it; asters don’t like soggy feet.

How do I care for asters?

They’re not super-finicky, which is another reason to love these old-fashioned favorites. Basically, you don’t need to do anything but enjoy their blooms. If you’ve spring-planted, you may want to “pinch” off the tips of plants when they’re about 10 inches tall. Do that two to three times from late spring to early July to encourage bushiness. “You don’t absolutely have to trim them back, but you’ll get hundreds more flowers if you do, because every place you pinched becomes a new branch,” says Pavlinak.

It’s also not necessary to cut them back after blooms fade in the fall. “I like to leave some anyhow over the winter, so I remember where the plants are next year,” says Pavlinak. Next spring, be patient and don’t yank out the plant too soon because you think it’s not doing anything. They’ll come from the ground up, but they’re slow to show up and usually don’t appear until mid-May. In two to three years when they spread or start to get floppy, use a spade to divide them and replant the new clump elsewhere.

Pretty Asters for Your Fall Garden

Alma Potschke bluestoneperennials.com $12.95

Gorgeous fringed flowers

October Skies bluestoneperennials.com $15.95

Late-blooming type

Vibrant Dome amazon.com $19.99

A shot of bright pink color

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Arricca Elin Sansone Arricca SanSone has written about health and lifestyle topics for Prevention, Country Living, Woman’s Day, and more.(Garry Miller/FreeImages.com)

Don’t let the spent flower blooms during these dog days of summer have you thinking that the garden is done for the season. Plant asters in your late summer garden and you’ll enjoy a colorful floral display well into fall. Many asters will flower until frost.

Consisting of daisy-like blooms, asters come in a wide range of striking colors, including blue, white, pink, yellow, orange and lavender. In addition to lighting up the garden, asters, which are perennials, provide a nectar source for wildlife, including bees and other insects, and they are host plants for butterflies and moths. Once asters go to seed, they also provide birds much needed nourishment.

(Andrea Kratzenberg-FreeImages.com)

To have luck growing asters in your late summer and fall garden, keep the following cultivation tips in mind.

Provide proper lighting. Most asters require bright light to grow well. Plant in an area of the garden that receives a minimum of six hours of sun a day. Some asters require partial shade. For those species, plant in an area that receives morning sun and afternoon shade or dappled sunlight throughout the day.

Amend the soil. Though asters will grow in heavier soils, such as clay, they do best if the soil is amended, so that the drainage is good. Add homemade or bagged compost to the planting area prior to planting.

(Ann Mulder/FreeImages.com)

Water until established. Asters are fairly drought tolerant, once established. Water them regularly for the first month until new growth appears and then taper off on watering. For established asters, water weekly or twice weekly in the absence of rainfall during the growing season.

Feed yearly. Asters require very little in the way of fertilizer. If you over-feed them, asters will create excessive foliage and no blooms. When planting, add an organic starter fertilizer to the soil. Thereafter, fertilize in the spring with an organic fertilizer designed for flowering plants.

(Susie Uebler/FreeImages.com)

Cut back in spring. In order to experience an abundant aster show in the late summer and fall months, cut the plants back in spring about a month after they’ve started growing. Prune them back by 50 percent with garden shears. This “haircut” will cause them to branch out and grow bushier, as opposed to becoming tall and unwieldy. Un-pruned asters are more likely to require staking when they bloom.

Cutting asters back also ensures that they get adequate air-circulation, which prevents them from succumbing to rust and mildew diseases.

Divide every three years. Asters eventually grow into large clumps and need to be divided every three years or so. Divide in early spring by digging up the plant clumps and cutting them into separate plants. Replant, spacing 1 to 3 feet apart.

Julie Bawden-Davis is a garden writer and master gardener, who since 1985 has written for publications such as Organic Gardening, Wildflower, Better Homes and Gardens and The Los Angeles Times. She is the author of seven books, including Reader’s Digest Flower Gardening, Fairy Gardening, The Strawberry Story, and Indoor Gardening the Organic Way, and is the founder of HealthyHouseplants.com.

Aster

Common Name

Michaelmas daisy

Traits

  • Sun
  • Shade
  • Container

Flowering Season

Summer, Autumn

Genus

The type genus for the daisy (Asteraceae) family, this group of 250 species is found over much of the temperate Northern Hemisphere and into South America. They are mainly herbaceous perennials but also include annuals, biennials, and a few rather shrubby species. The genus name is derived from the Latin word for star, and they are commonly known as Michaelmas daisies. Asters feature in several Greek and Roman god myths; the ancient Greeks also believed that asters would repel snakes and serve as an antidote to their venom.

Appearance

Asters are upright plants that often sprawl under the weight of their foliage and flowers; some species, usually the alpines, form low clumps. They have simple linear to lance-shaped leaves that are sometimes hairy and/or serrated along the edges. Most species have erect stems topped with massed compound flowerheads of small to medium-sized daisies in a wide range of colours, including white, pink, and blue. Late summer to mid-autumn is the main flowering season.

Cultivation

Mostly very frost resistant, asters have a preference for well-drained fertile soil that remains moist during the growing season. A sunny, airy, open position ensures maximum flower production and minimum mildew, which can cause problems in humid conditions. Deadhead routinely to encourage continued flowering, and cut back hard after flowering. Propagate by winter division or from spring softwood cuttings.

Gardening Australia suggests you check with your local authorities regarding the weed potential of any plants for your particular area.

© Global Book Publishing (Australia) Pty Ltd from Flora’s Gardening Cards

Aster Flower

The Aster flower is a daisy like flower, they look like little star bursts, opening up into a beautiful bloom. There are many different species, so you need to make sure you are growing the kind you like best.

Aster Flowers

Asters are the September birth month flower. They begin to grow at the end of summer, and continue to grow into fall. They are a great flower to have in the autumn months. As autumn days begin to get shorter and colder, the flower is a great plant to look at and remind you of the warmer summer months. They really do brighten up a fall flowerbed.

The best thing about this beautiful fall flower; is that it is a perennial flower. That means they will grow back year after year!

The perennial Asters can be grouped into three different species. They are known to some by their common name, Michaelmas daisy.

Michaelmas daisies are so easy to plant and care for. Anyone can do it. They can be planted in any soil type, and just need a lot of sun and a lot of water. Water them fairly regularly.

Aster Flower Meaning

A symbol of love and patience.

Aster Flower Types

The three varieties of flower to choose from are: Aster frikartii, A. novae-angliae, and A. novi-belgii.

Aster

Aster Frikartii

The Aster Frikartii grows in a purple aster color and has a great strong smell. They grow about 2 to 3 feet tall.

A. novae-angliae

This species comes in pink aster and purple aster colors. They can grow to be as tall as 5 feet. This plant is known as the New England aster.

A. novi-belgii

Known as the New York aster, comes in colors like white aster, pink aster, and purple aster. They can grow anywhere from about 1 foot to 4 feet tall.

Aster Flower Care

These plants are very easy to plant. It is easiest to start out with purchased plants. Simply place the plants in any average soil, and water them daily. Give them lots of sun, with a little bit of shade. After this plant grows for a few years, it can begin to look over grown. If this happens to you, dig up some of the plants, divide and replant them. This really is a great plant to have. They are so easy to take care of, and they make for a gorgeous fall flowerbed.

Asters are popular garden and bouquet flowers. These colorful flowers are also fragrant and attract bees, butterflies and flies.

Asters belong to the sunflower family and has over 600 species of which only 180 are recognised today as true asters. For the past 4,000 years, these flowers were cultivated as ornaments. People also used to burn them in the belief that its smoke would ward off evil spirits. Revolutionaries that took part in the Hungarian revolution in the 20th century all placed asters in their hats and caps. The event is remembered as the “Aster Revolution.”

The name aster originated from the Greek word for star as reference to the flower’s star-shaped flowerheads. Asters are also known as frost flowers because they’re often used in floral arrangements during the autumn and winter seasons.

Ada Ballard (Aster novi-belgii)

This type of aster is a little larger than other types, with petals that get up to three inches across. It has petals of a soft lavender-blue color with cheery yellow centers. They bloom in late-summer to mid-fall and are sturdy and easy to grow. They also grow up to 40 inches high and are resistant to both rabbits and deer.

Audrey (Aster novi-belgii)

Native to North America, this dwarf aster grows only up to 18 inches in height, but its color makes it stand out nonetheless. Light-lilac-pink petals encircle a bright-yellow center, and butterflies and birds love it. As a flower that does well in salty or dry soil, the Audrey makes for beautiful cut flowers for vases and containers, and it blooms in late-summer to mid-Fall.

Barr’s Pink (Aster novae-angliae)

Dense lilac-pink petals that grow up to 2.25 inches across are what make up this beautiful flower, which also has a golden-yellow center that turns to bronze when it ages. Its sturdy, multiple stems have light green leaves and are hairy-looking, and they are the perfect complement to the flower’s extraordinary petals.

Chatterbox (Aster novi-belgii)

With dense soft-pink petals and a striking yellow center, this flower has lance-shaped, grey-green leaves and can grow up to 16 inches in height. It is a dwarf plant native to North America, and butterflies and birds love it. It also does best in full sun and moist soil, and looks spectacular in vases and containers.

Coombe Violet (Aster novi-belgii)

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This type of aster has very large yellow centers and petals that are purple-violet in color. It blooms from early to mid-fall, and it looks beautiful in fall borders and in cottage and butterfly gardens. Best when grown in full sun or partial shade, the flower is a great source of nectar for butterflies and brings beautiful color to anyone’s garden.

Fellowship (Aster novi-belgii)

The Fellowship aster is a beautiful shade of pale pink that gets to over two inches wide and has petals that are quill-shaped. It blooms from late-summer to late-fall and has won several international flower awards. Its slender dark green leaves perfectly complement its petals, and it is very attractive to butterflies and birds.

First Snow (Aster ericoides)

The First Snow is unique in that it is low-growing and has very tiny petals. It is bright white in color with bright-yellow centers, and it comes with massive amounts of linear green leaves that look prickly but are actually very soft. The plant gets up to two feet high and 40 inches wide, and it is best to divide them every three to five years.

Grunder (Aster amellus)

With large deep-lavender blooms and bright-yellow centers, this flower has strong, upright stems and blooms in early to mid-fall. For late-season gardens, the Grunder adds a touch of color, and it grows up to 32 inches high and two feet in width. It is drought-tolerant, attractive to butterflies and birds, and looks beautiful in cottage or butterfly gardens.

Harrington’s Pink (Aster novae-angliae)

This flower has fine ray petals that are clear pink in color and get to one inch in width. Blooming from late-summer to late-fall, it is a type of New England aster and has won several international flower awards. It grows up to six feet tall, and it looks extraordinary in butterfly or cottage gardens, not to mention in prairies all over the country.

Jungfrau (Aster x frikartii)

Blooming from mid-summer to fall, this aster produces massive numbers of flowers that are blue-purple in color and get up to three feet in height. They are trouble-free, easy to grow, and need no staking. To show them off the best, place them in vases, cottage gardens, butterfly gardens, or borders.

KICKIN Carmine Red (Aster novae-angliae)

Thanks to its bushy, compact array of carmine-red petals and bright-yellow centers, you will notice these flowers as soon as you get anywhere near them. They grow up to three feet high and three feet wide, so it is difficult to miss them. Birds and butterflies love them, but deer and rabbits do not. They also make beautiful border plants and look fantastic in vases and containers.

KICKIN Lilac Blue (Aster novae-angliae)

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Growing up to three feet tall and three feet wide, these lilac-blue flowers look stunning regardless of where they are planted. They do best in full sun and well-drained soil, and they look perfect when used as a border or planted in cottage gardens. They bring a touch of color to anyone’s garden, and they are low-maintenance as well.

KICKIN Pink Chiffon (Aster novae-angliae)

These flowers have petals in pastel pink, almost white, and beautiful button centers in yellow. They bloom from late-summer to mid-fall, and they thrive best in soil that is rich and moist, but well-drained. The textured green leaves perfectly complement the beautiful petals, and they are sure to be a talking point when part of your garden.

Little Carlow (Cordifolius hybrid)

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With small, single petals that are lavender-blue in color and have bright-yellow centers, this flower is elegant and has beautiful dark-green leaves to complement its soft-colored petals. Blooming in late-summer to early-fall, it is attractive to both hummingbirds and butterflies, and, once you have a first look at it, you’ll see for yourself why it, too, has won several international flower awards.

Lou Williams (Aster novae-angliae)

These asters are spikey and showy, and their color can range from a ruby-red to a purple-red hue. They bloom from late-summer to late-fall and have large green petals that are clad with hair-like structures. They grow rather tall, up to six feet in height, and they droop and close when it’s dark or cloudy, but open up again when it’s bright and sunny outside.

Monch (Aster frikartii)

A perennial plant that contributes a bold splash of lavender-blue color to any garden, this type of aster is mildew-resistant, easy to grow, and needs no staking. It grows up to three feet tall and prefers medium moisture in the soil, as well as full sun or partial shade. The winner of several international flower awards, the Monch is eye-catching and looks astounding in vases and containers.

Nanus (Aster sedifolius)

The Nanus aster has star-shaped petals in a lilac-blue color and bright-yellow centers. It is native to Europe, and butterflies and birds love it. It is also easy to grow, long-lasting, and it has sturdy stems and dark-green leaves. Perfect for containers and vases, this aster needs an airy spot to prevent powdery mildew, but otherwise it is very low-maintenance.

Ochtendgloren (Symphyotrichum)

Considered a herbaceous perennial, this aster has won several international flower awards and grows up to five feet tall and three feet wide. Blooming in mid to late-fall, it has star-shaped petals in a beautiful shade of pink and centers that are yellow-green in color. It also has narrow dark-green leaves that bring out the pink color, and it makes a beautiful border or edge.

October Skies (Aster obligonfolius)

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With spiky sky-blue petals and a cheery yellow center, this type of aster blooms from late-summer to fall and grows up to two feet tall. Their bushy, blue-green foliage makes their color stand out even more, and they bring both a beautiful splash of color to your garden and a bit of nectar for butterflies and bees to enjoy.

Pink Victor (Aster novae-angliae)

With double medium-pink petals, this flower can show up almost anything else in your garden, and its bright-green leaves look magnificent next to its petals. They droop and close when the sun is down, or when it is cloudy, and open back up when the sun returns, and they are low-maintenance and resistant to both deer and rabbits.

Prof. Anton Kippenberg (Aster novi-belgii)

Blooming from late-summer to mid-fall, this aster grows up to 16 inches tall and has narrow, ray, semi-double petals that are lilac-blue in color with beautiful yellow centers. Best when grown in zones four to eight, it resists powdery mildew as long as it is planted in an airy spot, and it looks beautiful in borders and vases.

Purple Cloud (Aster novae-angliae)

The Purple Cloud aster consists of large purple-blue flowers with brilliant yellow centers, and they are both easy to grow and cheery-looking. They grow up to 40 inches high and are both deer and rabbit-resistant, but they easily attract butterflies and birds. They also look beautiful in containers and vases.

Purple Dome (Aster novae-angliae)

A daisy-like flower with deep-purple petals and sunny-yellow centers, the Purple Dome closes up when it’s dark or cloudy and opens back up when the sun returns. If you pinch back the stems before midsummer, they can keep their shape better, and they always do best in full sun and moist, well-drained soil.

Rosa Erfullung (Aster amellus)

This type of aster is purple-pink in color and is produced in abundance from early to mid-fall. With striking yellow centers, it grows up to 20 inches wide and 20 inches tall, and, since it is resistant to powdery mildew, it is an easy-to-grow flower. Growing in beautiful sprays that are certain to attract attention, these flowers are also beautiful in vases and containers.

Royal Ruby (Aster novi-belgii)

These asters are a little unique because their centers often look like part of the flower, in a mulberry-red color and with only a touch of yellow. The eye-catching color perfectly complements the dark-green leaves, and, since they are sturdy and easy to grow, they are often found in borders, coastal gardens, containers, and cottage gardens.

Sapphire (Aster dumosus)

With bushy, fluffy petals that are large and lilac-blue in color with bright-yellow centers, this flower includes skinny leaves with rough edges and a dark-green color. It grows up to two feet tall but requires no staking, and it looks amazing in containers and vases. It also is easy to grow and looks great for a very long time, so it is one flower you’ll want to show off to your friends.

September Ruby (Aster novae-angliae)

This flower’s color is its most attractive feature because it has ruby-rose petals and bright-yellow centers, not to mention rich-green leaves that perfectly complement the petals. Perfect for butterfly or cottage gardens, this flower grows three to four feet high and is very attractive to birds and butterflies.

Snow Flurry (Aster ericoides f. prostratum)

With a large, dense mat and arching stems that instantly attract your attention, this flower has won several international flower awards and looks beautiful as a groundcover or planted somewhere where it can form a cascade. It can grow up to six inches high but can spread to two feet in width, and it even does well in soils made with clay or sand, or even soils that are dry.

Violet King (Aster amellus)

With star-shaped petals in deep-violet with large bright-yellow centers, this flower has won several international flower awards and makes a wonderful addition to a late-summer garden. It does best in full sun and well-drained soil, and it looks spectacular in containers and vases.

Violetta (Aster novae-angliae)

Blooming a long time, late-summer to late-fall, the Violetta has beautiful, daisy-like violet-blue petals and large, spiky yellow centers that highlight the petals’ exceptional color. Originating in New England, the flower grows up to five feet tall and three feet wide, and it can take both very dry and very wet conditions.

Wood’s Pink

This is a striking flower with cheery-pink petals and a bright-yellow center, and they bloom from late-summer to early-fall. Growing up to 18 inches tall, the Wood’s Pink prefers full sun or partial shade, and it can even grow in dry or salty soil. Birds and butterflies love it, and it is perfect for zones four to eight. It also makes a great border or edging.

Wood’s Purple

A dwarf aster with massive petals that are violet-blue or purple in color, the Wood’s Purple flower is bushy and can grow up to 18 inches high and 18 inches wide. These flowers have bright-yellow centers and are deer and rabbit-resistant, and they bloom in late-summer to early-fall. The flower is also very attractive to butterflies and birds, and it looks stunning in vases or containers.

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Tags: Flowers Categories: Gardens and Landscaping
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