Asters: Beautiful Fall Color

— Written By Shannon Newton
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Looking for a fall blooming plant? Look no further than Asters. There are several species that will grow well, bloom in the fall and provide late season pollen for our native pollinators.

Asters are long-lived perennials. If planted in rich soil, plants will tend to be taller. There are many varieties, so select one that fits your garden border or location. Mounds of color typically begin in September, blooming often until frost. Colors vary from white, pink and purple.

Climbing Aster, Ampelaster carolinianus

Climbing aster is a vining plant that can be trained like a climbing rose. It likes to grow along fences and other structures. Foliage often turns a deep burgundy to purple color after the first hard frost. If you would like to keep it a little smaller, cut the side branches back by 1/3 in the spring. Climbing aster will grow well in USDA Hardiness Zones 7 to 9.

Fall Blooming Aster, Aster sp.

There are many types of fall blooming asters. They come in short to tall variety’s. When planting, try to consider an aster native to your area. Otherwise, pick plants that match the location in your garden for sun, soil and moisture requirements.

Aster Plant Care

Overall, asters are an tough and easy to grow plant. Make sure the plants receive shade part of the day as they prefer cool night time temperatures. If planted in a wet area, you can have problems with root rot, so be sure to plant them in a well-drained soil. Insect pests can be a superficial problem. Both spider mites and lace bug can be found on your plants. With proper attention and application of insecticidal soap or other insecticides, you can manage these insect pests. Because many asters grow tall, pinch them back for the best display of fall color. The general rule of thumb is to pinch until 4th of July and not after. Pinching yields better branching and more flowers. As asters easily seed, consider removing the seed pods so they do not spread throughout your flower garden.

Aster propagation

Cuttings should be made in the spring. Cut a 3- to 5-inch section of stem and remove the lower leaves, keeping 3 or 4 of the upper leaves. Root the cutting in a medium such as sand or perlite, and place a clear plastic bag over the cutting to help it retain moisture. It is optional to use a rooting hormone

Division Asters can divided every 2-3 years by lifting clumps in the fall and dividing into rooted sections. It is recommended to compost the older parts of the original plant.

Seeds can be planted indoors during the winter months. Be aware that germination may be uneven. Start the seed in pots or flats by planting 1 inch deep. Place them in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 weeks. This mimics the winter dormancy they would receive if planted outside. After the chilling period, place the pots or trays in a sunny location. You can plant them out-of-doors after the last frost. Once acclimated to your climate, they will grow year-round.