Mild weather, back-to-school shopping, and abundant garden harvests are here, leading the way into the beautiful fall months ahead and signaling that some of the most anticipated late season perennial color is just about to pop in the garden. One of the best late season perennials sure to excite even the most hesitant of fall skeptics, Asters are phenomenal for providing long-lasting color to refresh late summer beds and act as the perfect complement for fall displays.
Commonly referred to as Asters, despite their reclassification as Symphyotrichum (sim-fy-oh-TRY-kum), Asters are excellent late season bloomers ideal for mixed borders, pollinator gardens, cottage gardens, and countless other spaces, providing striking color and crucial late season pollen and nectar for local and migrating pollinators alike. Largely native to North America, Asters thrive in well-drained soil in areas of full sun, though they are tolerant of partial sun. Asters typically range in size from 12-48” tall and 12-24” wide depending on variety and species, pairing wonderfully with Goldenrod (Solidago spp.), Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia spp.), Hardy Mums (Chrysanthemum spp.), as well as countless other garden favorites. The most popular varieties of Aster are typically cultivars or hybrids of one of three species: New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae), New York Aster (Symphyotrichum novi-belgii), or Bushy Aster (Symphyotrichum dumosum).
Native to much of North America including here in Minnesota, New England Aster is a wonderful upright mounding perennial growing upwards of 48” tall, with many popular cultivars and dwarf selections including the abundant lavender purple flowers of the popular ‘Purple Dome,’ and the vibrant royal purple blooms of ‘Grape Crush.’
New York Asters are fast-growing, fascinating plants, with countless blooms that close each evening or on cloudy days, reopening each morning, and are available in many varieties including the unique double blooms of ‘Showmakers Blue Bayou’ and ‘Showmakers Lilac Sunset.’
Bushy Asters are excellent for providing texture and dense, bright blooms, with branched stems of fine leaves and abundant color perfect for low borders and mass plantings, including the popular ‘Woods’ series providing timeless color in ‘Woods Purple,’ ‘Woods Pink,’ ‘Woods Blue,’ and ‘Woods Light Blue.’