Aster, Michaelmas Daisy
Aster is ‘star’ in Latin and this is an allusion to the shape of the flower. Michaelmas is a reference to the time of flowering.
- Bloom time: Mid to late fall
- Height: 24” to 48”
- Sun needed: Full
- Bloom color: Red, violets
- Planting apart: 18” to 24” apart
- Soil preferred: Sand, well-drained
- Propagation method: Division, cuttings
This is a European species averaging 18 to 24” tall. Easily grown and hardy into zone 4 with no difficulty
- ‘Violet Queen’ – large flowers of violet-purple and yellow eye.
- ‘Coombe Fishacre’ is a 36” tall, strong growing plant with lavender-rose blossoms.
A North American native, excellent for part shade or naturalizing. More tolerant of dry soils than other asters. It has white blossoms that resemble small stars on well-branched plants. Grows to 18” tall.
Aster x frikartii
This is an excellent hybrid group that share several important characteristics. The first is that they are the longest blooming class of asters – starting in mid to late summer and lasting well into fall. The second is that they are quite disease resistant. The key to growing them is well drained soil (no clay for this plant) and growing them in at least a zone 5 garden. They do not grow reliably for me in zone 4 even though I have great soil for them; I’m not giving up yet though.
- ‘Flora’s Delight’ has lilac mauve flowers with a yellow eye. A bit shorter than others at 18”.
- ‘Monch’ is the classic representative of this group. Lavender-blue flowers over an extended time and a height of 30” make this an excellent plant for the fall garden.
- ‘Wunder von Stafa’ (also sold as ‘Wonder of Stafa’) 24” tall with delightful sky-blue flowers in mid to late summer throughout the fall.
This is a North American species that has naturalized itself in Europe. In the wild, it can grow up to 36” tall but the cultivated varieties vary in their height. It seldom needs staking due to its strong, woody stem.
- ‘Prince’ White flowers on interesting plum colored foliage makes this a good all summer plant for garden interest. The flower is small and white with a red eye and quite distinctively attractive in the profusion each plant produces. Good compact growth habit makes this plant a winner.
New England Aster is a North American native. Normally, it is one of the taller species, reaching upwards of 4 to 5 feet in the wild. It is hardy well into zone 3 and rarely needs staking due to the stiff, woody stems. This species also provides some of the best plants for taking cut flowers.
- ‘Andenken an Alma Potschke’ (also sold as ‘Alma Potschke’) is a salmon pink and growing just under 48”. It is one of the best and well deserving of a place in the garden.
- ‘Pink Winner’ a medium pink and quite an upright form even though it is short (36”) for the species.
- ‘Purple Dome’ is an introduction from the Mount Cuba Center in Delaware and is deep purple and only 18 to 24” tall.
- ‘Rudelsburg’: 36” tall and a strong grower. Bright red blossoms cover this plant in the fall.
The species is a 48” tall plant with woody stems that requires no staking in its native North America. Now, widely naturalized in Europe and hybridized for gardens, it comes in a variety of colors and heights. All are quite hardy into zone 2 and are delights in the fall garden. The shorter forms were bred as hybrids using A. dumosus as the other parent. There are literally hundreds of available varieties in this species.
- ‘Audrey’ 12” tall and mauve blue. Good garden performer
- ‘Coombe Rosemary’ A double flowering, violet purple on 36” tall plants
- ‘Diana’ is a clear rose-pink on 24” tall plants
- ‘Lady in Blue’ a semi-double flower on 12” plants., mid-blue coloring
- ‘Little Pink Beauty’ is a semi-double, bright pink flower on 18” tall plants
- ‘Professor Kippenburg’ is a semi-double, bright blue flowering plant at 12 to 18” tall.
- ‘Royal Ruby’ a deep red, semi-double flower on 18 to 24” tall plants
- ‘Winston Churchill’ a bright red single flower on 18” tall plants.
This is an easy plant to grow. It thrives in almost any garden soil that is well drained and moderately fertile. It loves the full sun and will survive in light shade although the taller forms will get a bit floppy if given too much shade.
Some forms will require an annual edging as they are good spreaders. Many of the taller varieties benefit from staking or planting next to something (plant or garden structure) that is sturdy to prevent flopping over in windy weather.