Perennials – Asters

As I wander through my garden this time of year, it’s always nice to discover that it still has some colorful surprises in store for me. Our fall-blooming asters are at their peak of bloom right now and are such tough plants for this region.

My favorites are Aster x frikartii and A. novae-angliae (New England aster). Members of the daisy family, asters are sun-lovers, like to be watered regularly and prefer well-drained soil. They should be divided every couple of years but that’s a task that I rarely seem to have the time for. Fortunately, the plants are very forgiving.

Fall-blooming asters are covered with blossoms from August to October. Boy, are the bees drawn to these flowers! They must appreciate having a reliable pollen source this late in the year. Butterflies love the plants as well.

Aster x frikartii reaches a height of 2-3 feet and have abundant lavender-colored blooms. ‘Monch’ is one of the most common cultivars and grows to about 30″ tall.

New England asters are true overachievers as some of the cultivars grow as tall as 5 feet. Mine tend to average about 3 feet tall, however. The blossoms are usually purple or magenta in color. A shorter cultivar is ‘Purple Dome’ that tops out at about 18″.