Many people know what a mum is, but do you ever hear about these amazing fall-flowering plants called asters? For most avid gardeners, I am sure you know what an aster is, but for those of you who don't, let me introduce them to you!
Asters are often overlooked because they do not have as wide of a color range of flowers, compared to a mum. Instead of the burgundy, oranges, and yellows (among other colors) that mums come in, asters are on the cool spectrum of colors. They are instead found in unique shades of blue, purple, pink, and white.
Why should I grow an aster?
Reason 1: They bloom in the fall! When everything else in your garden is finishing up its bloom cycle for the season, asters are just coming into flower. They can really add a cheery, bright pop of color to your landscape in fall.
Reason 2: Asters attract butterflies! While they do not make the monarch caterpillars bitter to birds like a milkweed plant, you will often find monarch butterflies feeding on the nectar of the flowers.
Reason 3: They are deer resistant! If you have a problem with deer munching on your precious perennials, try growing asters. No plant is deer proof, but asters have a far less desirable texture to deer than many other perennials.
Reason 4: They love full sun! While it isn't hard to find sun perennials, there are few that look as stunning as asters late in the season. If you don't have full sun, this may be a plant to skip to avoid a leggy plant.
Reason 5: Asters look great with any plant combination! Whether they are mixed with shrubs in your formal landscape or in a perennial border, mixed amongst coneflower, black-eyed-susan, daisies, or daylilies, the mounded habit of an aster is hard to beat!
Reason 6: These plants are very hardy. With cold hardiness in Zone 3 to 4, these plants are hardy even in Minnesota.
Reason 7: Asters come in unique colors and create a full flower display. Often times when asters are in full bloom, it is hard to see the leaves of the plant. If you love blues, pinks, purples, and whites in your garden, these plants are certainly worth your time!
How do I grow asters?
Asters definitely need full sun to look their best, so make sure they are getting at least 5 hours of sun. More sun is always better, though! They also do best with plenty of room (some varieties can get 3 feet wide or bigger). With more room allows more air movement. This is best to ensure there is no mildew on the leaves of the plant. Most newer varieties, however, are mildew resistant. Lastly, they do best when they are pinched/cut back before July. This will help the plant stay full and avoid it from splitting once it is loaded with gorgeous blooms!