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Easy-to-grow asters come in a variety of shapes and sizes to suit gardens of all dimensions, shapes, and styles—especially cutting gardens and sunny or lightly shaded borders. Although a few species bloom in early spring, most put on a spectacular flower display, supported by evergreen foliage, from late summer well into fall when other summer blooms may be fading.
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Part Sun, Sun
From 1 to 8 feet
1 to 4 feet
Asters get their name from the Latin word for "star," and their flowers are often the superstars of the fall garden. Some types of this native plant can reach up to 6 feet with flowers in white and pink but also, and perhaps most strikingly, in rich purple, showy lavender, and occasionally blue.
Aster Care Must-Knows
With several hundred species available, an aster can be found for most growing conditions short of full shade. This plant prefers moist, well-drained soil; overly wet soil leads to rot. Some asters require nutrient-rich soil; others need lean soil lacking organic material. Most asters should be grown in full sun to prevent flopping, especially in shady or windy locations. Woodland species tolerate shade, but need morning sum to produce the prettiest flowers. Watch for powdery mildew, rust, and chrysanthemum lace bugs that suck nutrients from the leaves and need to be combatted with chemical controls. Consult an expert at your local gardening center.
Aster can be grown from seed, but expect uneven germination. It may be easier to purchased plants at a garden center. Space the transplants 1 to 3 feet apart, depending on the species, add mulch to keep the soil cool and prevent weeds, and water generously. Pinch back the tips of young plants to encourage bushiness. If your region receives less than one inch of rain a week, continue to water aster on a regular basis. If your plants lose flowers, or are not flowering well, they are getting too much or too little moisture. Try a different watering method.
Remove spent flowers after aster has finished blooming for the season to prevent lanky unwanted seedlings that may not resemble the original plant. Divide fast-growing every few years in spring or autumn, which helps plants maintain vigor and keeps them from dying out in the center.