Asters are native to North America and Eurasia and come in a wide range of shades from pink, blue, purple, and white, providing a last burst of color in the fall. Being relatively easy to grow with few diseases or insect pests to bother them, they are a favorite among gardeners. Ranging from a height of 1 foot to 6 feet tall there is an aster to fill almost any space.
Asters prefer full sun but will do well in partial shade, although they will flower less. They are prolific growers and will rapidly reach flowering size with little help from the home gardener as they are a relatively carefree perennial. With few pests or diseases to bother them, they are a low-maintenance plant. Asters will spread to form a clump, which can easily be divided in spring or fall and replanted elsewhere in the perennial bed. Asters will also readily self-seed and naturalize an area over several years. This perennial is cold hardy in zones 3 to 9.
Asters will do well in average, well-drained garden soil and should be planted in full sun for maximum flowering. In the South, they are generally planted in spring and fall, while in the North, they are typically planted in the fall, although any time from spring on is good. A soil amendment of compost and peat moss would be beneficial at time of planting although not necessary. Asters prefer an acidic soil and adding the peat moss would accomplish that.
Asters prefer soil that is well drained and do not like to be soggy. They are equally as fussy about drying out. With asters, watering is a delicate balance, although it is better to err on the dry side as they will prefer drier conditions.
Asters do not require fertilizer to grow. If desired, a slow- or time-released fertilizer may be applied to the base of the plant twice a month from spring until flower buds appear. Asters would do equally well with an addition of compost topdressing applied in spring rather than a commercial fertilizer.
Asters require little in the way of pruning. If desired, they may be cut to half their height in midsummer to increase the bushiness of the plant. After flowering, give them a final cut to a few inches above the soil line in the late fall.
Caring For Asters in Pots
Asters do well in pots as long as they are provided ample drainage in a loose, friable soil. The pots can be placed in an area with full sun, but will do well in light shade, although flowering may be diminished. Watered well on a regular basis, asters will mature through the season and flower in the fall. When the plant starts to die back, cut back spent flower stocks to just above soil level and either store pot indoors or remove plant from pot and plant in the ground for next season. Repot in spring when the plant shows signs of active growth.
Winter Care for Asters
Asters do not require much in terms of winter care. They are tough perennials and survive the winter well in colder climates, where there are extended periods below freezing. Some gardeners may add a light mulch of salt marsh hay or straw to the top of the plant, but it is not necessary.
Common Aster Care Questions
Do Asters Need Light?
Asters grow and flower best in full sun. Some varieties will tolerate part shade but will have fewer flowers.
How Long Do Asters Last?
Most species of aster are perennial plants with a life span of more than 2 years and a few species are annual with a life span of one year
Are Asters An Herb?
The stems and roots are used as plasters or dressings in healing wounds and relieving pain. The root is also used to reduce fever and diarrhea. In China, the roots and leaves are used as traditional medicine for coughs and colds.
Are Asters Edible?
Aster's fresh flowers are added to salads and leaves may be dried or boiled for tea- for medicinal purposes.
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