Aster: Growing & Caring Guide

Aster

Quick Overview

Plant Type: Flower
Family: Asteraceae
Sun Exposure: Full sun
Watering: From the base
Colors: Purple, Blue, Pink, Red, White
Size: 2–5 ft. tall, 1–4 ft. wide
Hardiness Zones: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 (USDA)
Soil Type: Well drained, loamy
Soil pH: 5.8 to 6.5
Propagation: Division, Seed, Stem Cuttings
Toxicity: Not poisonous to humans, dogs, cats or livestock

Aster plants are perennial plants blooming with lovely colorful flowers. They grow in many regions and come in vibrant assorted colors. Whether you are a beginner or more experienced, this guide will tell you how to successfully plant, grow and care for your asters to add charm and color to your home or garden.

These perennials prefer full sun and well-drained, nutrient-rich soil, and unlike many other blooming plants, Asters can flower from August to late October. Gardeners love Aster because it gives them a beautiful array of colors in the early Autumn months. The Aster’s star-shaped flowers are usually white and pink but can also be found in blue or purple.

Growing and taking care of Asters is a pretty easy task. They don’t require particular care and are resistant to pests and diseases. 

Related: Check more varieties of purple flowers.

Colorful Asters

How to Plant Aster

Planting Aster is pretty simple, and it’s mostly done in two ways:

Seeds

Plant in the middle to late spring. Mix the soil with some organic compost if this is a new flower bed. Plant seeds about 3 inches apart, ensuring there are no large clumps of dirt to block growth. Once they have grown a bit, you can thin the seedlings further apart to avoid overcrowding. Cover with about 1/8 inch of soil, watering after planting just enough to keep the soil moist until they sprout. If you prefer a “wildflower” type of garden since Asters grow in the wild as wildflowers, scatter them in a wildflower-type pattern instead of rows. Keep the soil moist. You can also plant the seeds in pots.

Cuttings or Starter Plants

Remove the lower leaves from the stem, leaving just a few at the top of the stem for cuttings. Plant in a pot, misting the cutting with water. Place a plastic bag over the pot and cut to keep the moisture in. You may also start from live plants using division. For example, if you already have some Asters growing, you can remove some and replant them in a new bed.

Blue Aster
A selective focus shot of aster flowers

General Care for Aster

Watering

Water the asters until they are no longer blooming. Make sure you water at the base. Pouring from the top can damage the leaves, petals, and stems and encourages mold. Asters don’t like too much water, so even during summer months try to be careful not to overwater them. Your flowery friend may start losing flowers if you give them too much or too little water.

Fertilizer

Feed your Aster monthly with plant food, or use mulch around the Aster to facilitate growth. The mulch decays into nutrients that the Asters absorb. For more blooms, deadhead the asters occasionally, also, stake the taller plants, so they don’t fall over and break the stem.

Help prevent mildew by thinning the Asters in the spring by removing one of every three stems.

Pest Prevention

Asters don’t have many pests at all. However, if you notice the leaves are turning yellow, you may have a common pest they do have. This pest is called the Lacebug. The lace bug is found on the underside of the leaves. They suck out nutrients that leave your plants without the nutrition to grow. When leaves start yellowing, use an organic repellent mist under the leaves. It is crucial to do this before the leaves go brown and die. Check routinely to make sure you have got all the bugs. Missing a few starts the whole process over and will kill the plants.

Winter Preparation

The Aster is a sturdy plant thriving through conditions that could kill other perennials. Nevertheless, they need a small amount of preparation for the winter season. Once the ground freezes, cut the aster flowerbed down to the ground, leaving the roots alone. Cover the area with a couple of inches of mulch. This protects the roots through the winter so they will grow new plants in the spring.

Pink Aster
Violet asters flowers autumn background

Types of Asters and their Care

The Aster is part of the Asteraceae family, which includes over 32,0000 species. Of these, there are 170 species in the Aster genus. Narrowing this further, there are two main types of Aster: New York Asters and New England Asters originating in North America. Both have been further selectively cultivated into other aster species through the years, but these two kinds started it all.

  • The New York Aster is thinner in the stem than its New England counterpart. It also has narrower petals.
  • The New England Aster has plumper blooms. The stem is more of a woody consistency and broader than the New York Aster.

Hundreds of asters in the aster family originate from the two types. Soil needs and shade can slightly differ depending on the kind. A few examples of care per the Aster’s kind are as follows:

Heath Aster

Good for medicinal purposes. Native Americans used them in sweat lodges. Also suitable for wildlife. It grows in part shade and part sun. The Heath Aster does best in rocky, sandy soil. It blooms from August to October and grows up to two feet. It looks like a mini daisy but is not an actual daisy. It is considered a wildflower, but many gardeners use them as backdrop flowers in a landscaped garden.

Smooth Aster

This smooth petal Aster blooms through November. Frost is not a problem for this hardy flower. This lavender blue flower attracts a lot of butterflies and is the host for the Pearl Crescent Butterfly.

Calico Aster

The Calico Aster is nearly unscented compared to other flowers. It is tall and slim and prefers moist soil and partial sun to shade. It does best in areas of the country with woodlands. The name refers to the changing colors in the petals and leaves as the plant matures.

Aromatic Aster

A favorite among many growers, this attractive purplish violet Aster is critical to bees. It has a high nectar content. It needs the sun with only partial shade and prefers well-drained, dry, or rocky soil. It tolerates heat and cold. Watering is minimal.

Wood Aster

These asters thrive in shady fall gardens, creating “clouds” of flowers grouped together, resembling a bush. Filtered to full-shaded areas are perfect for them. The preferred soil is normal to a little acidic mix. If you love small wildlife, this is the Aster you should grow as it attracts wildlife to it. However, deer are not drawn to the plant like other wildlife.

Asters
Close up background of fresh multi colored small aster flower heads, elevated top view, directly above

Benefits of Asters

Asters not only beautify your landscape with pops of cheery color, but they also offer other benefits to growing them.

  • Butterflies and Bees-If you love butterflies, these vibrant flowers attract them. Bees also flock to them.
  • Flexible Choices- Enjoy choosing from various colors and types of these flowers for growing. For example, one type needs more sun, and another might be fine in the shade, so finding a kind perfect for your garden needs is highly doable.
  • Easy to Grow- Asters are pretty easy to grow. While they do have some things to watch out for, for the most part, they are an issue-free flower and hardy. Additionally, they can be grown with seeds or cuttings.
  • Home Decor- Asters fit into any bouquet in your home. No matter which kind of central flowers a vase bouquet consists of, asters complement them and add extra oomph to the gorgeous scenery of fresh garden flowers in the home.
Purple Aster
A close-up on a beautiful blooming dwarf pink alpine aster with daisy-shaped flowers forming a low clump or hedge in autumn.

Fun Fact

Aster flowers are edible; in fact, Native Americans used them in soups and stews as filler and flavorings. Smaller leaves were cooked as greens and were also eaten for medicinal purposes. Today, if used at all, it is in salads or as a garnish. Asters are also used to make tea, both as a beverage and also for medicinal teas. The Aster was also infused with other plants by native Americans for use as a laxative or to treat headaches.

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