Fall is Aster season and here at Shooting Star Nursery we love these bright, cheery perennials!
As a group, Asters (which have now mostly been categorized as the genus Symphyotrichon, for all you plant nerds out there) are sturdy, long-lived, and unfussy about soil type - they even tolerate clay soils well.
Planting Asters is also a great way to extend the flowering season in your perennial garden. They generally come into bloom in mid to late summer – just as most perennials are finishing up their flowering season – and continue blooming right up until frost.
One of the things Asters are best known for, though, is their ability to attract butterflies and other pollinators. Their simple, daisy-like flowers provide a great platform for butterflies to land on while they nectar from the plants. In fact, if you’d really like to roll out the red carpet for butterflies, consider planting both Asters and Erigerons. Erigerons begin blooming in early spring and continue flowering into summer, at which point Asters come into bloom.
Most of the Asters we carry here at Shooting Star Nursery fall into two groups: dwarf Asters that about 12-18” tall (October Skies, Purple Dome, Wood’s Pink, Wood’s Purple) and standard Asters that get between 2-3’ tall (Avondale, Moench, Raydon’s Favorite). Snow Flurry is a prostrate Aster that only gets 4-6” tall, and our native Douglas Aster can range in height from 1-3’ tall.
Asters prefer average water, and will do well in full sun to part shade, depending upon variety. For a great show of fall color, consider planting them with a mix of goldenrods and ornamental grasses. We like to leave their dried flower stalks standing throughout the winter months (their seeds are really popular with wintering songbirds), and cut plants back in early spring as new growth begins to emerge.