Asters - The Butterfly-Magnet Your Garden Has Been Missing!

Asters - The Butterfly-Magnet Your Garden Has Been Missing!

Gorgeous native plants with clouds of frilly blooms and cheerful easy-going nature, the Aster may be an old-fashioned perennial but it’s been a garden standard for a hundred years for good reason!

Also known as Michaelmas Daisy for their tendency to bloom around the autumn equinox, they are beloved for their late summer and autumn color and their ability to draw pollinators galore!

Michaelmas Daisy

The name Aster comes from a Greek word that means "star" and the flower's heads are comprised of hundreds of blooms on a mound of fine-textured foliage! Featuring 250 species in North America, these are highly adaptable plants and extremely cold hardy! Forming airy mounds with lots of branching and finely textured lance-shaped tiny leaves, they look like green mist in the landscape and are loved for that textural aspect throughout the garden!

All About Amazing Asters!

Many varieties of Aster grow into a dome-shaped mound all spring and summer! These herbaceous perennials bloom later in the season, extending your flower enjoyment often right up until the first mild frost! 

The clouds of tiny blooms feature hundreds of fine-textured flowers with a fringe of slender, straight rays of petals, radiating around a cheerful center - similar to that of a Daisy! These members of the Sunflower family, these rays surround colorful centers that have loads of pollen and nectar for pollinators!

all about amazing asters

The blooms that smother these plants form at the ends of each of the multiple dense branches. Displayed in the late summer and through the fall, just when other flowers are beginning to fade! 

Incredibly cold hardy and even heat tolerant, most of these perennials thrive in chilly USDA growing zones 3 and 4, all the way up to hot hardiness zones 8 and 9!

  • Drought, salt, and occasional wet soil tolerant
  • Deer and rabbits do not prefer the taste!
  • Attracts butterflies and bees, hummingbirds, and even songbirds!
  • Late summer through autumn flowers
  • Fast growers!

How to Use Asters in the Landscape

Use these cheerful blooms in borders, Rock Gardens, Children’s Sensory Gardens, or in any sunny area that needs some color! With a tidy, mounding habit, these are ideal along the edge of garden beds or use as spillers and fillers in containers! Foundation plantings and front-of-the-border garden plants, the dwarf and low-growing varieties of Aster are perfect to ease the transition between lawn and garden!

Rock Garden

Very versatile plants, many are tolerant of any kind of well-drained soil and tolerate moderate to low moisture. So they’re easy and tough plants en masse and in rows along sidewalks, sunny driveways, and that ‘hell-strip’ along the road! 

Any garden becomes a Pollinator garden with these nectar and pollen-rich blooms! Extend the bloom time of plants in a cottage garden and perennial border to enjoy color and butterflies right through the first frost in many cases!

Since the native varieties like the Smooth Aster and New England Aster are wildflowers, any naturalized planting, prairie garden, and butterfly garden are perfect locations for these hardy herbaceous perennials! You will even enjoy Asters as cut flowers on your kitchen table!

Perfect for ‘Flying Flowers’!

As mentioned, these are vital nectar resources for pollinators! Especially Monarch Butterflies that are getting ready for fall and migration and need that boost of nutrition late in the season! Pearl Crescent Butterfly caterpillars use New England Aster as a host plant and food source for their larvae!

Since they have dozens to hundreds of blooms on a single plant plus such an extended bloom time, we’re sure you’ll enjoy parking a bench or chair by your bank of Asters just to watch the butterflies flutter and bee buzz around their new habitat you’ve created for them!

Perfect for flying flowers

The native varieties even have some seeds that feed songbirds too! Unfortunately, those seeds that some natives have spread a bit too well into the landscape and can jump their garden borders. That’s why Nature Hills has created Plant Sentry™, which helps us comply with all local and state regulations for potentially invasive plants.

Types of Asters

The native Smooth Aster is the original lavender flowering ornamental with clouds of tiny blooms and airy, fine-textured leaves on loose, informal plants! These natives are so easy-care and look gorgeous doing it! A similar and improved version of this native is the New England Aster with its larger flowers and orangy yellow centers, bigger blooms, taller stems, and all the carefree ease of its native cousin!

The easy native blooms of the New England Aster have a vibrant cultivar called Purple Dome that will brighten any wildflower garden and cutting garden with their lovely deep purple hue!

The big bold blooms of the KICKIN® Aster line have loads of flowers on compact domed mounds and feature brilliant, saturated color! Likewise, the Alma Potschke Aster features vibrant, rosy-pink blooms and matching centers! These cheerful blossoms and would look great planted alongside the purple semi-double blossoms of the Professor Kippenburg Aster! 

Kickin Aster

The tiny double-petalled Alert Dwarf Aster is an eye-popping burst of color in vivid magenta packed in a tiny plant, barely 12-15 inches tall and wide! Just like the diminutive Woods Aster Series, which includes rosy Pink, vibrant Purple, and periwinkle Blue forms! Growing only a foot high and about 2 feet wide, they're sure to light up your fall border gardens and porch pots with lovely color!

You’ll enjoy weeks to months of blooms and butterflies - regardless of which variety you choose! Available in a variety of colors, these sunny blooms are so cheerful! With this variety of choices, we’re sure you can find a plant for almost any sized garden! 

The best part of these incredible ornamental flowering plants is that they are reliable perennials that come back year after year without fail!

Caring For Your Asters!

Caring for these carefree perennial plants is quite easy if you follow just a few simple tips and procedures. 

  • It is best to plant it in the spring, after the first frost. But you can plant successfully any time!
  • Plant in almost any kind of well-drained soil 
  • Best exposed to full sun and light shade - full sun for the most blooms
  • Divide if needed, every 3-4 years in the early spring or fall

Native Asters need average to low moisture and are drought tolerant and Xeric plants, while other modern Asters need moist to average moisture conditions. Even though most Asters are drought resistant, they all need regular watering in the summer. 

Water in the mornings and avoid wetting the leaves since this plant is susceptible to leaf fungus and powdery mildew when in a poor air circulation location or the leaves remain consistently wet from sprinklers and excess water. 

  • Provide moderate moisture throughout the summer heat and dry seasons
  • A spring application of fertilizer is best as soon as you see new growth

Pruning / Pinching Back Asters

One important chore that’s needed for these low-maintenance tender perennial plants, is they really look their very best with an annual pruning (or pinching back). 

If you want a thick, bushy plant with a full blanket of blooms, cut all stems to half their size in early to mid-June. Doing this to the entire plant evenly encourages dense branching and lots more blooms!

This little bit of pruning and care will keep your Asters in a neat and tidy mounded, rounded size and retain that well-known domed shape. Asters make great plants to leave uncut for the winter to catch and sculpt the snow, then in early spring cut all stems to the soil just as it starts to grow.


Grow The Incredible Aster!

Check out these unusual old-fashioned flowers today and be sure to include one or more in your own garden! Soon you’ll enjoy loads of flowers for your vases, for your late-season enjoyment, for planters, and of course - for your butterflies!

Let ship your frilly garden upgrades today and find out what the hype about Asters is all about! We’re sure your pollinators will thank you!

Happy Planting!

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