Your garden shouldn’t look like a sick person at the end of summer.
A garden with dead flowers and foliage is a depressing sight.
With a decent dose of Fall Asters, you can make the sick person look alive with beauty! They will bloom till the frost and give a fresh look for the garden.
Every fall flowerbed should include these in addition to mums and others, to give a rainbow of fall colors till the end of the season.
And it is a great addition to all native and butterfly flower gardens. It is popular with pollinators. You will see a lot of Monarch butterflies and bees frequenting them. It is a great nectar provider for butterflies, especially Monarchs.
These New England natives (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) are hardy perennials and need a period of cool weather in winter. They can be grown from zone 4 to 8.
They bloom profusely and have clusters of daisy-like blossoms on the tip of each stem. They have a range of colors, such as pink, rose, lilac, white and purple.
And they are easy-care plants.
Asters are prolific self-seeders and have become a kind of invasive. You can see them growing by roadsides, fields and edges of forests in fall.
How to grow New England (fall) Asters
They like full sun, but can handle partial shade.
As usual, well-draining, rich soil would make them grow vigorously and give a lot of flowers.
They are maintenance-free plants once established.
So give good care till it establishes itself by giving enough water and nutrients.
They can be propagated by seeds, cuttings and divisions.
You can buy seeds and sow them in the bed in spring. Germination is uneven.
You can root stem cutting easily.
Remove leaves from two nodes and insert them in the soil and water them well.
At the beginning of spring and fall, you will find potted plants at garden stores.
Every few years, dig up the plant in spring when the shoots emerge, divide the clump and plant in other spots. It will give healthy plants.
They can grow to 1-6 feet tall and 1-4 feet wide. So give them 2-3 feet space in between depending their size. Tall varieties need support with stakes.
Care for New England Asters
Give them enough water. Even though they are drought-resistant, they like moist soil.
When the plants are 4-6 inch tall, pinch the center leaves of growing tips often until mid-August to force new growth by the sides and make a dense compact plant. Pinching after mid-August will prevent bud forming, also you might be removing flowering buds.
By pinching you can shape a bushy plant at required height. Otherwise, you will have long dry stems with flowers at the tip and they will be kissing the soil.
During flowering time, lower leaves of the long stems dry up and make the plant look dead.
Making the plant bushy will prevent that sad look.
Asters are good cutflowers. They flower from late summer to autumn. Remove the deadheads to encourage new flowers and prevent new seedling invasion.
In the fall, when it dies, cut back the foliage to the ground level.
Next spring, you will have new vigorous growth.
Disease and pests
Letting soil become dry between watering or overcrowding the plants might encourage mildew.
They also have problems with rusts, white smut, leaf spots, stem cankers, aphids, mites, slugs and snails and nematodes.
Having New England Asters along the borders and fences, you will have a lively garden till the snow covers it.