Asters are the show-stopper of the perennial garden, with beautiful fall colors of pink, purple, blue, and white. They’re also one of the few remaining excellent places for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators to find food. Beautiful blossoms and a flurry of fascinating creatures make the Asters, particularly the New England Aster, a two-for-one offer for gardeners. This particular deer-resistant native favors wet, rich soils but thrives in all but the driest soils, flourishing in full sun or moderate shade in all but the driest soils. Cutting down the stems before mid-July can help limit the requirement for staking if height becomes a concern.
Growing New England Aster
The two most common asters, New England and New York are perhaps the most difficult to distinguish. The average height of a New England Aster is 3 to 4 feet, while shorter and taller varieties are available. It has strong stems with hairy leaves. The blooms of the New England Aster are generally large and dense, flowering in late summer or early autumn and lasting for many weeks.
New York Aster, like New England Aster, has numerous small cultivars, but there are also several that grow 2 to 4 feet tall, including some that are over 4 feet tall. The stems and leaves of the New York Aster, on the other hand, are slimmer and smoother.
- Latin name: Symphyotrichum novae-angliae
- Other names: Michaelmas Daisy
- Native to: Central and Eastern North America
- Invasiveness: No
- Tenderness: Herbaceous perennial
- Sun: Full Sun
- Water: Once or twice a week
- Soil: Clay, Loam, Sand
- Hardiness zone: Zones 4 to 8
- When to plant: Spring to early fall
- Spacing: 18″
- Plant height: 3′ to 6′
- Bloom period: Late summer through early fall
- Time to maturity: 1 year
- Container friendly: Yes
- Fertilizer: 0-10-10
- Toxicity: No
- Deer resistant: Yes
- Pest resistant: No
Asters are a bright collection of hardy, easy-to-grow perennials that bloom throughout the fall. New England Asters are tall perennials that give spectacular displays of reds, pinks, purples, and white in the fall. They are hardy and have minimal maintenance. Asters give vital blooms for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators during a time when most other perennials have done flowering. Ornamental grasses, rudbeckia, and coneflowers go nicely together. The majority of Asters like full sun, while some will tolerate partial shade with fewer flowers and reduced vitality. Asters thrive in well-drained, medium to good loamy soil. Wet soil causes root rot, whereas dry sandy soil causes wilting.
New England Asters, like many other flowers, prefer damp soil. As long as the soil isn’t entirely dry to the touch, it can withstand reduced amounts of moisture. During dry spells, give your plants plenty of water. To keep the soil equally moist, water New England Asters deeply once or twice a week. This kind of Aster prefers damp soil. Mildew can grow on New England Asters if the soil is allowed to dry fully between waterings.
To grow and blossom at their best, New England Asters require full light. This means that on most days, their growth place should receive at least six hours of sunshine. In the afternoon, you may give it some shade to keep it healthy.
These plants grow best in rich soil with a slightly acidic pH and adequate drainage, although they can also thrive in various soil types. They may even grow on clay soil. Asters require well-drained loamy soil that is ordinary to good in texture. Root rot will occur if the soil is too moist, while withering will occur if the soil is too dry.
When new growth sprouts in the spring, fertilize your Asters. Use a flowering plant fertilizer that is water-soluble or granular. Compost may also be used to improve the soil. Bone meal or a low-nitrogen fertilizer can be fed to them.
They easily naturalize due to their robust growth habits and vast root systems, as well as via self-sowing. The trick is to appreciate them without allowing them to take over your yard. Even though aggressive growers are not classified as invasive species by the USDA, they can create difficulties rather than delight if they are not properly controlled. You may address these obstacles by taking proactive actions to limit their spread and keep their appearance.
Growing New England Aster in containers
Choose a pot that is slightly larger than the Aster plant for potting Asters. It should be able to drain well. Plant the Aster in a hole somewhat bigger and deeper than the container it came in, in well-blended compost. After flowering, cut down the plant and overwinter it in a window box or greenhouse. Transfer the Aster to a container that is a few centimeters wider than the old one if it gets root-bound.
Care & tips
New England Aster requires little care. Simply divide in the fall, fertilize, and prune in the spring. Pinching back stems every few weeks throughout the early half of the summer can help produce a bushier, more compact growth habit. If you don’t stop pinching by August, you could accidentally remove some flower buds. You may need to stake your Asters if they develop too tall and lanky to keep the stems from flopping over. After the Asters have finished blooming and the foliage has died in the fall, cut them to the ground.
“Aster yellows” is an issue that Aster plants have. This may happen to other plants as well, despite the name.
The Aster leafhopper, an insect that distributes a specific bacteria from one plant to another, is to blame for this issue. As a result, the entire garden suffers, particularly the Aster plants. Unfortunately, there is no cure, and the best you can do is remove the infected plants as soon as possible to stop the infection from spreading.
Propagating New England Aster
Division, cuttings, or seeds are all easy ways to grow 12 New England Asters. Many people believe that dividing the Aster is the safer option because it’s hard to predict how the Aster will appear when reproduced from seed.
Wait until the Aster plant is at least three years old before dividing it. Take a 5-inch length of stem from a healthy New England Aster in early spring to reproduce via cuttings.
The History Of The New England Aster
Introduced populations have expanded across North America, including Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming, thanks to extensive cultivation. It was discovered in Nova Scotia and was once thought to be an escapee from cultivation, but as of July 2021, it is recognized a natural species there. It was first spotted in British Columbia in 1993 and 1994 in Vancouver and is thought to have originated from railroad carriages and garden garbage.
The New England Aster is widely naturalized over much of Europe, including sections of Central Asia, Hispaniola, and New Zealand.
Uses for New England Aster
The flowers and leaves were burned, and the resulting smoke was utilized in religious rituals, as well as to resurrect the dead, and heal mental diseases, nosebleeds, migraines, and congestion. Leaves and blossoms were dried and used in smoking combinations with kinnikinnick Arctostaphylos uva-ursi. Earaches, gas pains, stomach aches, and fevers are all treated with this tea. The root has been used as a poultice to relieve the pain of diarrhea.
With clusters of rich violet to lavender-pink blooms, New England Aster brightens up the late-season landscape. This Aster may reach a height of six feet and is quite spectacular. Late-season pollinators, particularly Monarch butterflies, rely on the blooms for nectar as they prepare for their fall trip to Mexico.
This great pollinator favorite and larval host for the Pearl Crescent, Gorgone Checkerspot butterfly, and Northern Flower moth attracts a lot of bees and butterflies. Michaelmas Daisy is another frequent name for this flower.