• An Explosion of Asters

    by  • October 21, 2010 • Fall, Plant Profiles

    Their colors are so intense, majestic, it is a privilege to be out among the asters and goldenrods and drying weeds under a hard autumn sky.
                                                                 Robert Morgan 1970

    In notes, after seeing the first blooms of some New England asters, Symphyotrichum novae-angliae, in my garden 3 years ago, I say, simply, ” Get more asters! ”  

    Never fear, I needed not to buy more, for these asters multiply readily on their own!  They spread out about a foot on each side every year and now since 2007, I have transplanted a clump in the patio bed close to the kitchen window. I’ve also put some down into the ‘flower garden’ (over the septic tank) as well as sharing many rooted young plants with my friends.  My friend, Cheryl’s gift has grown to over six feet tall this year! 

    Mine get a little additional water in July and August and no fertilizer, blooming reliably in the middle of October. About two weeks before that, you can see the plants stretching up high, about four feet tall in this case, and loaded with buds. Here is before and after bloom:

    Native to all areas of the US east of the Rockies, New England asters, sometimes called Michaelmas daisies or Hardy asters, adapts easily to other areas,likes sun and any type of soil.  Deer don’t like them and they don’t seem bothered by other animals or diseases. Asters can easily be divided in the spring, and some consider them invasive in a good way, not unmanageable.   They are tall, 3-4 feet usually, but normally need no staking, looking best in an area where they can spread out and go wild.  If they do lie down from heavy bloom that will actually help flowering shoots grow up from all along the stems.

    The periwinkle blue color brings out the blue in the nearby Manzanitas in my garden and I’ve thought they would also look striking with the Copper Canyon daisy or Mexican daisy, Tagetes lemmonii, which haven’t bloomed yet, but are as tall and bright yellow, and Autumn sage in a red or magenta.  What a riot that would be!  Get more asters!


    Sue Langley, a passionate gardener and photographer lives and gardens with her husband and Corgi, Maggie on 7 acres just south of Yosemite, Zone 7 at 3000 feet. She also manages the Flea Market Gardening Facebook page and website.