Aster

20 May

450px-Aster_alpinus_002Aster, deciduous perennial, 12 to 24 inches in height, large clusters of daisy-like flowers in many colors including blue, purple and white, dark green hairy foliage, full sun to part shade, great cut flower, divide yearly, Aster chilensis is native.

There are more than 600 species of true asters, ranging from 6-in.-high alpine kinds forming compact mounds to open-branching 6-ft.-tall plants. Flowers come in white or shades of blue, red, pink, lavender, or purple, mostly with yellow centers. Bloom time is generally in late summer to early fall.

Taller asters are invaluable for abundant color in large borders or among shrubs. Large sprays effective inarrangements. Compact dwarf or cushion types make tidy edgings, mounds of color in rock gardens, good container plants.

aster-prenanthoides-2009-10-24-zoo-01

True asters are adapted to most soils, but growth is most luxuriant in fertile soil. They have few problems except for mildew on leaves in late fall. Strong-growing hybrids have invasive roots; they can regrow from small fragments left in soil and spread to become nuisances. Divide yearly in late fall or early spring. Replant vigorous young divisions from outside of clump; discard old center. Divide smaller, tufted, less vigorously growing kinds every 2 years.

officialAster novi-belgii 

Native to eastern North America. To 4 ft. tall, 3 ft. wide, with full clusters of bright blue-violet flowers. Similar toA. novae-angliae but with smooth leaves. Hundreds of selections are available, varying in height from less than a foot to over 4 ft.; flower colors include white, cream, blue, lavender, purple, rose, and pink.

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